EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire softball team won the 2012 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title after defeating 14th-ranked UW-Whitewater twice on Gelein Field at Carson Park today.
The Blugolds and Warhawks both entered their final doubleheader of the 16-game WIAC slate with 12-2 records. UW-Eau Claire emerged with a 2-1 victory in the first game to claim at least a share of the crown, and followed that with a 5-4 triumph to earn the championship outright.
The league crown for UW-Eau Claire is the eighth in program listings and first since the 2006 campaign. By winning the regular-season title, the Blugolds will host the six-team WIAC Tournament, May 4-6. The winner of the league tournament earns the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship. The Blugolds will compete at 10 a.m. Friday against an opponent to be determined April 30.
Eau Claire has now won 14 straight games going back to April 14, the second longest winning streak in school history behind an 18-game streak during the 2006 season. The Blugolds, who are 8-6 in one-run games this season, improve to 30-10 overall and 14-2 in the conference. The 30 wins are the most Eau Claire has reached since the 2008 season while the 14 conference victories ties for most in school history (Blugolds went 14-0 in 2006).
In game one against the Warhawks, Taylor Pierce (Fr.-Ashwaubenon, Wis.) hit a two-run homer, scoring Jenny Hess (Jr.-Wisconsin Rapids, Wis./Lincoln), to give the Blugolds a 2-0 lead after the third inning. While the Warhawks answered with one run in the fourth, the Blugolds hung on for the win.
Pierce led the game with two RBI while four Blugolds each had one hit. The Warhawks finished the game with seven hits.
Emma Wishau (So.-Waterford, Wis./Union) pitched the complete game, her 15th of the season, and improved to 12-6 overall after finishing with two strikeouts.
In the second game, Eau Claire took an initial 1-0 lead after Amanda Houle (So.-Chisago City, Minn./Chisago Lakes) scored in the third but Whitewater used a five-hit, three-run fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Blugolds fought their way back and scored four runs to take a 5-3 lead. Emily Muller (Sr.-Lancaster, Wis.) drove in Pierce and Houle with a single and Amanda Fischer (Fr.-Wausau, Wis./West) scored later in the inning following a Nikki Bromelkamp (Sr.-Zumbrota, Minn./Zumbrota-Mazeppa) single. Bromelkamp later crossed home plate.
While the Warhawks brought in one more run in the sixth to make the score 5-4, the Blugolds held on for the win.
Muller finished with a game-high two RBI while Houle had a team-high two hits and two runs.
Ashley Meinen (Sr.-Chippewa Falls, Wis./McDonell) started the game and pitched 3.1 innings, striking out one batter but giving up five hits and three runs. Laura Raflik (Fr.-Plover, Wis./Pacelli) relieved Meinen and earned the win while Wishau closed the game to earn the save, her first of the season.