By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
CLERMONT, Fla. (blugolds.com) - The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team shifted northwest from Kissimmee for the latter half of their 2017 Spring Break trip, partaking in the PFX Games over the course of the remaining three days of said trip. On Monday's slate, the Blugolds took on Hope College and Bowdoin College.
The match-up with Hope pitted two teams against one another, each with one loss on the season to date. Hope's lone loss happened to be a one-run deficit to conference foe, UW-Oshkosh, earlier in their trip.
In Monday's game, the Blugolds jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Rachel Heffel (Sr.-Racine, WI/Case) reached on an error to start the game, and two batters later, Brooke Varian (So-Madison, WI/West) made the Flying Dutch pay with a two-run shot over the left field fence.
Despite the quick start, this would mark the end of the scoring for UW-Eau Claire against Hope. That is not to say that the Blugolds did not have other chances of bringing in more runs. In the fifth and sixth innings, baserunning miscues with runners in scoring position halted their opportunity to drive in more runs.
Hope cut the lead in half with a pair of doubles in the fourth and then tied the game up at two an inning later. In the bottom half of the sixth, a 13-pitch at-bat for the Flying Dutch clean-up hitter Sierra Mutschler, including fouling off nine pitches, eventually resulted in a home run to center field. The four-bagger would be enough to hold off the Blugolds for the 3-2 win for Hope.
In the defeat, Lauren Blasczyk (Sr.-Appleton, WI/East) received just her second loss on the season. She dazzled early, striking out the side in the second, and ended the game with six punchouts. Two earned runs, five hits, and one walk round out her statline.
Game two of the day against the Bowdoin College Polar Bears ended in the win column for the Blugolds, but they needed to scrap for it, as Bowdoin nearly overcame an eight-run deficit.
Sarah Peka (Fr.-Chanhassen, MN/Minnetonka) got plenty of run support to begin the game. Eau Claire's offense put up three runs in the first, including RBIs from Evie Schaller (Sr.-Chippewa Falls, WI/Chi-Hi), Emily Pomykalski (Sr.-Cross Plains, WI/Middleton), and Carlie Christensen (Jr.-Ellsworth, WI/River Falls). They then batted around in the second inning, adding five more runs to the total.
From then on, though, the Blugolds' run production came to a stop. The Polar Bears scored three unearned runs off of Peka in innings three and four to make it an 8-3 ballgame. The defensive woes continued in the top of the seventh, as Cheyenne Johnson (Fr.-Poplar, WI/Northwestern) gave up four runs, albeit them all unearned. The ERA's of the Blugolds pitchers may have gone unaffected, but four errors in the game almost cost UW-Eau Claire.
Christensen (3), Schaller (2), and Leah Wolff (Sr.-Middleton, WI) (2) all had multiple hits in the win.
Now with a record of 9-2 on the season, the Blugolds will attempt to add two more to the win column Tuesday morning when they face the University of Chicago and Carthage College.Follow the action all season long on Blugold Game Day.