PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) — The spring weather has not been kind to many of the softball fields around the area. But on Saturday, many of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association teams were able to open conference play at Pioneer Stadium in Platteville.
Butch Leitl Field uses field turf, rather than natural grass, allowing for a playable surface despite the wet conditions. In the WIAC opener, UW-Eau Claire defeated UW-Stevens Point 8-0 in five innings and in the second game, they held on to beat UW-Superior 4-2.
The Blugolds began the conference season with a dominating victory over the Pointers. They scored at least one run in each of the first three innings and ended the game with a 4-run fifth inning.
Jenny Hess (Sr.-Wisconsin Rapids, Wis./Lincoln) singled to start the inning and stole second shortly after. Sarah Fern (Sr.-Brooklyn Center, Minn./Park Center) doubled to center to bring home Hess for the 1-0 lead.
Hess singled to drive in one more run and the Blugolds shut the Pointers down in the bottom of the fifth to end the game due to the 8-run rule.
Emma Wishau (Jr.-Burlington, Wis./Waterford Union) gave up two hits in five innings to pick up the shutout and improve to 3-1 this season. She struck out two and walked two in the victory.
Hess led the Blugolds with three hits and Arnold finished with two. Seven other Blugolds finished with a hit each to give them 12 total in game one.
In the second game, the Blugolds took on the Yellowjackets in a much closer matchup. UW-Eau Claire got on the board first in the bottom of the inning when Fern drove in Hess on a fielder's choice for the 1-0 lead.
Fern drove in another run in the bottom of the third and Arnold added an RBI single for the 3-run lead. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when Nikki Brooks (So.-New Richmond, Wis./St. Croix Central) hit a solo homer with two outs to give the Blugolds a little insurance.
The Yellowjackets mounted a rally in the top of the seventh. With one out, UW-Superior got a 2-run homer off of Laura Raflik (So.-Plover, Wis./Pacelli) to cut the lead to two. The Blugolds brought in Zana Lorbetske (Fr.-Rhinelander, Wis./Three Lakes) to get the final two outs and pick up her first save of the year.
Raflik improved to 5-1 this year, giving up two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. She struck out three and walked one. Lorbetske did not give up a run or a hit in her save opportunity.
Fern led the Blugolds with two hits while Arnold and Brooks added one each giving them four total for the game. The win gives the Blugolds a strong start in WIAC play, starting out 2-0.
The Blugolds are now 14-3 on the season and have pushed their conference game winning streak to 13, the second longest in school history (longest is 17 straight conference games). The streak began last season on April 4.
They will be back at Pioneer Stadium again Sunday afternoon for another double-header with the Pointers and Yellowjackets. They will play the UW-Stevns Point at 11 a.m. and UW-Superior at 1 p.m. UW-River Falls, UW-Stout and UW-Platteville are also playing at Pioneer Stadium this weekend in their conference opener.