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 lose 2 in a row for first time this season

    The UW-Eau Claire softball team is in the midst of its first losing streak of the year after dropping its final two games last weekend in Iowa.

    The Blugolds defeated Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 7-4 in the first game of a doubleheader March 29 before losing to Simpson College (Iowa) 4-1 later that day and falling 9-1 to Central (Iowa) March 30. The team’s scheduled second game for March 30 was canceled due to rain.

    Head coach Leslie Huntington said despite the team’s 12-3 record, the team still has much work to do, as evidenced by the weekend losses.

    “We haven’t beaten a good team yet, or a really good team, a nationally-ranked team,” Huntington said. “Really, I don’t think there’s any reason for (the team) to be over-confident right now.”

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    The offense struggled to produce runs in both weekend losses, which Huntington attributed to a lack of execution and sophomore shortstop Taylor Pierce said came from a lack of clutch base hits. The Blugolds outhit Simpson College 6-5 in their game and had four hits and drew four walks against Central.

    Senior Emily Haluska, a former first-team all-conference performer, went 2-3 against Simpson College and 1-2 against Central to raise her season average to .306. After hitting just .242 a season ago, Haluska said she has avoided looking at her statistics so far this year.

    “I’m feeling slightly better (than last year), but it’s still early in the season and there’s always room for improvement,” Haluska said.

    Huntington said while the offense had a rough stretch this weekend, she remains confident in her team’s ability to score.

    “I don’t think that offense is our problem,” Huntington said.

    Huntington instead pointed to her pitching staff and the team’s defense as areas that need to be cleaned up. The Blugolds committed three errors in the loss to Simpson College, playing for the first time this season on a wet field.

    Pierce said the work the team has done in the gym got them ready for the hard dirt infields in Florida over spring break, but a lack of practice field work may have hurt them defensively in Iowa.

    “With the rain, it made the field soft, so we had to charge the ball more and we didn’t adjust to that very quickly,” said Pierce, who leads the team with seven errors in her first season at shortstop. “It makes a big difference practicing inside then going outside.”

    Huntington said the pitching staff has to do a better job of throwing strikes and getting ahead of batters. Freshman Zana Lorbetske started the Central game but was removed after walking the first two batters.

    Lorbetske, who has excelled in a relief role this year thanks to her ability to miss bats, may be moved to the bullpen permanently after struggling in her starting opportunity, Huntington said.

    The team’s scheduled Thursday home opener against Luther (Iowa) has been postponed, and Huntington said she has been told it may be two more weeks until Carson Park is playable.

    Haluska said the long winter has made for a frustrating season, especially when trying to balance being both a student and an athlete.

    “You just have to be extremely organized and be ahead as much as you can,” Haluska said. “If we have to push all those games back and have two weeks straight of playing games, we’ll have our schoolwork all aligned.”

    The team’s weekend games against both UW-Stevens Point and UW-Superior in Platteville have not yet been canceled, but Huntington said she cannot imagine being able to play the games.

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    Blugolds lose 2 in a row for first time this season