Softball Falls to 12th-Ranked Central in Doubleheader

PELLA, Iowa (Blugolds.com) — The UW-Eau Claire softball team squared off with Central College (Iowa), the 12th ranked team in the latest NFCA poll, for a doubleheader Monday afternoon. It was a tail of two games as the first one was a dramatic extra inning game, while the second game lacked any drama and ended early due to the eight-run rule. Despite the drastic differences in the games, there was one constant and that was Central coming out on top with a 9-8 win in eight innings in game one and an 8-0 victory in game two.

The first game got interesting late, but was rather quite in the early innings. Central (18-4) got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second and in the bottom of the fourth to take a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, the Blugolds (13-7) got on the board and took their first lead of the game.

With the bases loaded and one out, Amanda Houle (Sr.-Chisago City, Minn./Chisago Lakes) drew a walk for the first run of the inning. Amanda Fischer (Jr.-Wausau, Wis./West) flew out to right field to bring in the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly. Rachel Heffel (Fr.-Racine, Wis./Case) then singled through the left side of the infield for the 3-2 lead.

Central tied it back up with a run in the bottom of the sixth and then things got interesting in the seventh. Zana Lorbetske (So.-Rhinelander, Wis./Three Lakes) doubled to lead off the inning and Fischer singled to left field to bring her home for the first run of the inning. Heffel followed with an RBI double down the left field line, brining home Fischer.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Taylor Pierce (Jr.-Ashwaubenon, Wis./Ashwaubenon) singled through the left side of the infield to bring home the third run of the inning. Deanna Gilane (Jr.-South Milwaukee, Wis./South Milwaukee) followed with a two-RBI double to left center to give the Blugolds the 8-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

Central put together their own rally against the Blugolds in the bottom half of the inning. They loaded the bases with no outs, forcing the Blugolds to bring in Laura Raflik (Jr.-Plover, Wis./Pacelli) to replace Lorbetske, who came in to pitch the sixth in place of starter Emma Wishau (Sr.-Burlington, Wis./Waterford Union).

The big blow was a three-run homer to left center with one out that knotted the game up at 8-8. Raflik escaped the inning though and got the game to extra innings. The Blugolds went down in order in the top of the eighth and that gave Central a chance to end it. The leadoff batter reached on an error and two batters later she was brought home an a single up the middle for the winning run.

The Blugolds finished the game with 11 hits, including a four-hit game from Gilane, who had three doubles and two RBIs. Fischer, Heffel and Pierce all had two hits each as well. Wishau went five innings and picked up a no decision after giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits. Lorbetske went one-plus inning and was charged with three runs on just one hit. Raflik was hit with the loss and she went one-plus inning and gave up three runs on three hits.

Game two was less dramatic, as Central put up three runs in both the first and second innings. Raflik started but went just one-third of an inning. She gave up three runs, two earned on four hits before giving way to Wishau. Wishau did not fair much better, going one and two-thirds innings and she gave up three runs on five hits. Lauren Blasczyk (Fr.-Appleton, Wis./East) came on to pitch the third inning. She pitched one and one-third innings and gave up two runs on three hits. Lorbetske was the fourth and final pitcher for the Blugolds and she went two-thirds of an inning and did not give up a run on one hit.

The Blugolds finished with three hits, one each by Fischer, Heffel and Nikki Brooks (Jr.-New Richmond, Wis./St. Croix Central). Fischer also added a stolen base.

Next up for the Blugolds is a doubleheader Saturday in La Crosse, the first conference matchup of the season. The doubleheader scheduled for Thursday, April 3 at River Falls was postponed to April 16 due to field conditions. The doubleheader with La Crosse is set to start at 1 p.m with the second game to follow that.

-JM-