By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
ROCHESTER, Minn. (blugolds.com) - The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team kicked off their 2017 season with wins over Gustavus Adolphus and Washington University in St. Louis. The pair of wins on Friday afternoon were an excellent way for the No. 14-ranked Blugolds to begin the Rochester Dome Tournament and season as a whole.
In game one of their two-game slate, the Blugolds enforced the eight-run rule at the five-inning mark, topping the Gusties by a 9-1 score.
A Carlie Christensen (Jr.-Ellsworth, WI/River Falls) RBI single in the bottom of the first got the Blugolds off to a running start. Third baseman Brooke Varian (So.-Madison, WI/West) then doubled in a second run in the bottom half of the third. After the Gusties cut the lead in half in the fourth, the Blugolds responded with six runs when they came to bat that frame.
The UW-Eau Claire offense plated two of those runs via wild pitch, one on a Kelsey Meredith (Sr.-Golden Valley, MN/Armstrong) sacrifice fly, and the remainder on a bases-clearing triple from last year's Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Co-Position Player of the Year, Evie Schaller (Sr.-Chippewa Falls, WI/Chi-Hi).
In the fifth, Meredith would score the game-ending run as Rachel Heffel (Sr.-Racine, WI/Case) reached on an error. Picking up where she left off a year ago, Lauren Blasczyk (Sr.-Appleton, WI/East) was nothing short of dominant, striking out seven and allowing only three hits and one earned run.
Eau Claire's nine runs came on six hits, with the Blugolds stranding four runners on base.
Game two on the day saw the blue and gold get out-hit, yet they still shutout the Bears, 2-0. Blasczyk's strikeout totals were minimized to just one, but she relied on the Blugold defense for damage control. WashU accounted for six hits, but the senior kept them out on the basepaths in her complete game shutout.
UW-Eau Claire scored a run in both the third and sixth innings to pull ahead in the tight game. Varian went 2-for-3 against the Bears, including driving in an insurance run in the sixth. The other run came on a sacrifice from Christensen back in the third.
Each team committed two errors with Washington getting six hits to the Blugolds' five.
UW-Eau Claire will attempt to stay perfect on the season on Saturday when play at the Rochester Dome Tournament continues. They will take on a pair of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) opponents in St. Olaf (11 a.m.) and St. Catherine (1 p.m.). St. Kate's ranks one spot below the Blugolds at No. 15 in the most recent NFCA poll.
Follow the action all season long on Blugold Game Day.