UW-Eau Claire softball hits an end

    The Blugolds’ season comes to a close in NCAA Regional final with a loss against to University of St. Thomas

    More stories from Kaitlyn Zenner


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    After making it to the NCAA finals game, UW-Eau Claire softball team ended the season with a loss to University of St. Thomas.

    UW-Eau Claire’s first NCAA softball tournament appearance since 2013 ended in the regional final this past Saturday.

    After defeating Wartburg College 4-3 on Friday, the Blugolds struggled to get an offense going against the University of St. Thomas, resulting in a 6-1 loss.

    In the final, University of St. Thomas was able to put up six runs on the board throughout the game before Eau Claire answered in the seventh inning. Brooke Varian, a fourth-year athlete, hit a double to right center, with Allison Schultz, a fourth-year athlete, coming in to pinch run for Varian.

    Shultz later scored when Gretchen Arneson, a third-year athlete, hit a double. Despite putting up a run on the board, this was the only offense the Blugolds were able to generate, bringing an end to their season.

    Mikayla McEnery, a second-year outfielder, noted the difficulty the team had in hitting the ball to the gaps in order to score runs and compete against the Tommies, which contrasted with their experience playing Wartburg College.

    “In our games against St. Thomas, the balls we hit on offense weren’t finding the gaps in the defense even though they were hard hit balls,” McEnery said. “In our Wartburg games, the balls were finding those gaps, and that can be the difference of a game.”

    Leslie Huntington, the UW-Eau Claire softball coach, also discussed the role pitching played in their final games.

    “I don’t necessarily think much was different in our play, but rather the adjustments St. Thomas made to our pitching,” Huntington said. “We pitched well all weekend, but St. Thomas just made adjustments that we didn’t have an answer for.”

    Though the team was not able to pull out a win against the Tommies, McEnery said she was excited to have the ability to go to the tournament and play against other competitive teams.   

    “It was incredible for us to have the opportunity to play in the Regionals Tournament this past weekend,” McEnery said. “The atmosphere was super cool and fun, and we enjoyed every second of it. It also allowed us to become stronger as a whole and getting that experience will continue to make us stronger in each year to come. It was truly an honor.”

    Though the Blugolds knew they would be facing tough competition in the NCAA tournament, Huntington said she was proud of the fact that the team went into the weekend with ample energy and grit, ready to play hard and win.

    “The team wasn’t satisfied with just being there,” Huntington said. “They wanted to win. We pitched well and got timely hitting. We had great dugout energy and never gave up.”

    Despite the tough loss in the NCAA finals game, looking back on the season McEnery reflected on her enjoyment and appreciation of being part of the experience. 

    “This season has been a blast,” McEnery said. “There is never a dull moment with the UWEC Softball group. The team knows how to laugh, and have fun, but then when it comes time to get down to business, we do just that. I could not ask for a better group to be a part of.”

    Zenner can be reached at [email protected].