By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
WHITEWATER, Wis. (blugolds.com) - After a very successful regular season that saw the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team get ranked in the top-ten in the nation at one point, the team's hopes for a bid in the NCAA tournament took a step in the wrong direction on Friday. While it is not out of the question that the Blugolds could still receive an at-large bid, the losses to UW-Stout and UW-Oshkosh quickly eliminated them from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) tournament and may make it tricky to get that bid.
In the tournament's opening game, the Stout Blue Devils overcame two losses to Eau Claire just a week ago to top the Blugolds 8-3. Despite outscoring Stout 14-1 in last week's doubleheader, the offense just wasn't enough in Friday's contest.
Stout opened the game with a two-run home run in the first inning and followed it up with a bases-clearing double in the second to push ahead 5-0 early. The Blugolds cut into the lead with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, and Taylor Mort's (So.-Zumbrota, MN/Zumbrota-Mazeppa) two-run shot made it a game in the fourth. Unfortunately, though, the sticks went quiet from there, and the Blue Devils responded with another two-run homer in the following half inning. They added an insurance run in the seventh on an infield hit to seal the upset win.
Brooke Varian (So.-Madison, WI/West) picked up half of Eau Claire's hits, going 2-for-3 in the loss. Stout out-hit the fourth-seeded Blugolds eleven to four.
With their backs against the wall, Eau Claire then faced the No. 3-seeded Oshkosh Titans in an elimination game. This served as a rematch from the pair of 2-1 wins Oshkosh had back in early April. This game was trending in that direction once again with the Titans ahead in a tight match-up, the score 3-1 entering the sixth.
From there, Oshkosh poured it on, posting a six-spot to enforce the mercy rule and bring the Blugolds tournament to a halt. The Titans used thirteen hits, two of which were round-trippers, on their way to the 9-1 victory. Five different Blugold hitters contributed a base-hit in the defeat.Follow the action for all sports this season on Blugold Game Day.