Softball splits conference opener

Blugolds drop two against La Crosse, rally to beat Platteville in doubleheader



Story by Meghan Hosely, Staff Writer

This past weekend, the UW-Eau Claire softball team traveled to UW-La Crosse on Saturday and to UW-Platteville on Sunday for its first conference games of the season.
La Crosse handed the Blugolds their first two losses in conference play, winning 5-3 and 5-4, respectively. On Sunday, the Blugolds swept Platteville, 13-7 the first game and 13-3 the second.

In both games against the Eagles, La Crosse was able to find a way to edge out the Blugolds.

In the second game, it came down to the last play for La Crosse to break the tie, handing the Blugolds another loss.

“We had a lot of chances to win the La Crosse games,” head coach Leslie Huntington said. “We left runners on base, we left runners in scoring position and we didn’t come up with the clutch RBI hit.”

Huntington also said her pitchers need to be able to start games. If they’re sharper, the team will play better.

Junior infielder Taylor Pierce had two hits during both La Crosse games, leading the team. She said the game was a back and forth

“They’d score, and then we’d score,” Pierce said. “A couple of innings, it was three up three down.”

On Sunday, it was a different story for the Blugolds. The team beat Platteville by five runs the first game and 10 runs the second.

The Blugolds got off to a slow start in the first game, tying the Pioneers in the third. Two home runs and four innings later, Eau Claire captured its first win of conference play.

In the second game, the Blugolds produced the majority of their runs in two of the five innings played. The top of the third was the first big inning for their offense, as they tacked six runs. The Blugolds struck again in the top of the fifth, scoring six more runs. This ended the game early due to the 10-run rule.

Junior catcher Casey Arnold recorded team-high hits in the second game against Platteville, with two. She said the team played at 100 percent against the Pioneers, but everyone still needs to bring their confidence.

“I think we’re trying too hard,” Arnold said. “What we’re doing is, we’re just pushing ourselves too hard and expecting this insane amount of perfection … getting the job done is what you need.”

The Blugolds still haven’t had much luck with practicing outdoors, so their practices haven’t changed much either. During one practice last week, the team fielded about 1,000 ground balls on the gym floor. Huntington said the team focuses mainly on defense and pitching.

Although, with the weather warming up earlier this week, the team saw time outdoors on Bollinger Field. On Tuesday, Arnold said some of the assistant coaches picked off ice from the dugouts and around the field, so it will soon be ready for practices.

The Blugolds will travel to Illinois this weekend to play four non-conference games before heading back to Eau Claire to face the WIAC conference in the upcoming weeks.