The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Blugolds split weekend doubleheader with UWSP

Three runs in the 6th inning propels Blugolds to game one victory
Photo by Erik Mikalofsky
First-year Breann Blanchard slides home safely on a sacrifice bunt in game two.

The UW-Eau Claire softball team split a Saturday doubleheader with the 20th-ranked UW-Stevens Point Pointers, winning game one by a score of 5-4 and losing game two by a score of 8-4. 

Saturday served as the Blugold’s home opener. Their original home opener was rescheduled due to rain in the forecast last weekend. The fans had plenty to cheer about in the first game of the doubleheader.

After falling behind 2-0 in the second inning, first-year Molly Marquardt hit a two-run home run to tie the game up. Marquardt’s home run was her fourth on the campaign, continuing to swing a hot bat at the plate. 

The Pointers would jump back on top in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI double and another run courtesy of a throwing error, making the score 4-2. 

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The Blugolds would fight back and get ahead in the game for good in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, first-year Miranda Gernander cleared the bases with a three-run triple putting the Blugolds ahead by a score of 5-4. 

First-year Lauren Trottier would close the door on the Pointers in game one, as she pitched a scoreless seventh inning to secure the victory for the Blugolds. 

The Blugolds played well in front of the crowd, who were excited to see the team back in action for the start of the home schedule. Fourth-year Jocelyn Hancock, who was the starting pitcher in game one, says that the energy of the crowd really helped motivate the team. 

“We have the best family and support system,” Hancock said. “Being at home the energy is just different, especially when we’re playing WIAC opponents and the crowd brought it today.” 

The Blugolds would carry over the offensive success at the start of game two as second-year Hailey Hagedorn and Marquardt drove in back-to-back runs in the bottom half of the first inning. 

The speed of the Blugolds paid off in the bottom of the third as first-year Ella Henderson laid down a sacrifice bunt that forced an errant throw from Stevens Point’s catcher, scoring the runner from third base. 

Third-year Megan Patterson would drive in another run on an RBI double in the same inning to make it a 4-0 ball game. 

A staple of the offensive play for the Blugolds was the emphasis on the small ball with sacrifice bunting and hustling out plays on the bases, which forced in runs and sped up the defense for the Pointers, who committed four errors in total on the day. 

Blugolds Head Coach Leslie Huntington says that the team takes a lot of pride in their base running and hustle on the offensive side of the ball. 

“We spend a lot of time working on base running and they take a lot of pride in that,” Huntington said. “They don’t just look at going 60 feet at a time and they’re always looking ahead to take the next base.”

The Pointers would chip away at the Blugold lead in the fifth and sixth innings, scoring one run in each inning. The defensive play of Henderson, who made a diving catch in short right field to record the final out of the sixth inning kept the game at 4-2. 

Henderson’s diving play was a key defensive highlight for the Blugolds in the afternoon, who played sharp defensively all afternoon.

Huntington made it a point of emphasis for the team to bring their A-game defensively against a team that only had two losses on the season coming into the game. 

“I believe that pitching and defense wins us games,” Huntington said. “Seeing that performance out of our defense was very encouraging for us going forward.” 

However, Stevens Point would continue their rally in the seventh and final inning, scoring six runs to make it an 8-4 ballgame. The Pointers would pitch a clean, scoreless bottom half of the seventh to force a split in the doubleheader. 

Despite the game two loss, there are a lot of positives to be taken away from the series split in the WIAC opener but some things that the team can improve upon according to Hancock. 

“We can improve upon those little mistakes and fielding errors,” Hancock said. “Just have to execute on those plays and extend the positive plays that we make going forward.”

The Blugolds will continue WIAC conference play on the road at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 when they travel to UW-La Crosse for another doubleheader. 

Mikalofsky can be reached at [email protected]

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