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

    Softball team keeps rolling along

    The way they are playing, the only thing slowing down the UW-Eau Claire softball team is the long Wisconsin winter.

    Playing ten games in the Florida sunshine over spring break, the team went 9-1 and moved their overall season mark to 11-1. The Blugolds notched three shutouts, scored double-digit runs four times and outscored their opponents 76-21 in the ten games.

    Sophomore outfielder Amanda Fischer said the team’s confidence continues to grow with each victory.

    “From the very first game we came out just ready to go and pumped up,” Fischer said. “We have such a talented team.”

    Story continues below advertisement

    Senior first baseman Sarah Fern had a particularly successful trip, hitting .533 with six extra-base hits and driving in 14 runs. Fern was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Div. III Player of the Week for her performance.

    The Blugold offense was very balanced on the trip, as the team hit four home runs and stole 28 bases. Head coach Leslie Huntington said the mix of power and speed makes the lineup dangerous.

    “I really like where we are right now and I like what we’re able to do offensively,” Huntington said. “I think our identity is just having a diverse offense and that’s where I want us to be.”

    Fischer and senior second baseman Jenny Hess have provided the vast majority of the team’s steals this year, combining for 30 of the 38 swipes. Hess is a perfect 14-for-14 on the basepaths, while Fischer has been caught just once in 17 attempts.

    Both Fischer and Hess are on pace to shatter Tammy Brandt’s single-season school record of 34 steals set in 1995. Fischer and Hess hit first and second, respectively, for many of the spring break games and provided the middle of the order with countless chances to drive in runs. Hess’ .512 on-base percentage is currently second on the team, while Fischer’s is a healthy .435.

    Huntington has given the green light to Hess and Fischer to run whenever they see an opportunity. Fischer said there are other players on the team who can take advantage of the speed game as well.

    “We have a very quick team this year, so pretty much anybody can steal,” Fischer said. “It’s going to throw our opponents off.”

    Huntington said she would like to see improvement from her pitching staff, particularly in getting ahead in the count. The Blugold coaching staff uses a metric called “A3P,” which measures the pitcher’s ability to be ahead in the count after three pitches.

    All five pitchers on the staff saw work in Florida, including freshman Zana Lorbetske. Lorbetske brings swing-and-miss stuff to the team, as evidenced by her 18 strikeouts in 15.1 innings and 8.22 strikeouts per seven innings.

    Lorbetske has been most successful in a relief role so far this season, a role in which Huntington said Lorbetske thrives. Lorbetske said she does not prefer either starting or relieving.

    “I think that could definitely be a big possibility,” Lorbetske said of taking on a more permanent role as a late-game specialist. “That’s what I did all throughout break.”

    The team will head to Iowa this weekend for four games against some stiff competition, including Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) and St. Scholastica (Minn.).

    “The competition is going to be phenomenal and we’re really embracing the opportunity to play these four games this weekend,” Huntington said.

    These trips also serve the purpose of helping the players avoid cabin fever.

    Weeks of practicing indoors with inches of snow still on the ground have been frustrating for some players, including junior pitcher Emma Wishau.

    “What’s hardest is keeping the mentality of pushing forward and keeping the game pace that we were able to pick up this past week,” Wishau said.

    The Blugolds home opener is currently scheduled for April 4 at Gelein Field, but Huntington said it is highly doubtful the field would be in game condition by then.

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
    All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Activate Search
    Softball team keeps rolling along