Softball starts six-game winning streak

Story by Nick Gourdoux

The UW-Eau Claire softball team began the season with high hopes and title aspirations.

Unfortunately, a slow start to the season tabled the title talks temporarily, as the team sought to work out its issues. Thanks in part to a six-game home stand, the Blugolds have turned their season around and are now back at the .500 level.

Entering the home stand, the Blugolds were 9-15 on the season. After three consecutive sweeps of WIAC rivals -UW-Stout, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater – that record has improved to 15-15, and the home record has improved to 8-0 on the season. The undefeated home record could be something worth noting later in the post-season because the national tournament will be played in Eau Claire at Gelein Field.

“Since we found out that the national tournament is going to be in Eau Claire we’ve had it in the back of our minds,” senior Bekki Kidnie said. “We have to have some pretty good luck, and it takes a lot to get to the national tournament, but if we do get there, I have no doubt in my mind that we will do great because everybody will be there.”

A three-run second inning last Wednesday gave the Blugolds a lead they would not relinquish in game one against Stout, as the team went on to win 4-2. To win the second game of the doubleheader, the Blugolds needed a late-inning rally.

Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kidnie hit a two-run home run to knot the game at 4.

“The way that we’re executing is much better,” Kidnie said. “We’ve always been able to get people on base, but we haven’t always been able to get them across the plate. When someone is on base, someone steps up and gets the job done.”

Then, in the bottom half of the seventh inning, junior Sara Baumgartner hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in the winning run.

Once again, it was late-inning heroics by Baumgartner that propelled Eau Claire to victory over Stevens Point on Saturday. With the game tied at two in the bottom of the seventh, Baumgartner singled to right field, scoring sophomore Aleisha Harper from third base and ending the game.

The Blugolds scored early and often in the second game against Stevens Point, winning 9-3.

The opener of Sunday’s doubleheader against Whitewater was a thriller. Tied at four, the game went in to extra innings. With two outs and a runner on second, Harper singled and drove in the winning run. A three-run fourth inning propelled Eau Claire to a 5-2 victory in the final game of the home stand, giving the team a six-game winning streak heading into today’s doubleheader at UW-Superior.

The Blugolds return home on Saturday to host a doubleheader against UW-Oshkosh in the final home games of the regular season.

“We haven’t had any doubters on the team, and our fans have stuck with us through our tough times,” Kidnie said. “I think we need to look forward and enjoy this hot streak and remember the hard work that it took to get here.”

UW-Eau Claire vs. UW-Oshkosh
Time: 2 p.m.
Date: Saturday, April 24
Place: Gelein Field