By Tommy McGowan, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) - After earning in at large-bid to the NCAA Tournament, the No. 25 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire softball team will square off against Wartburg (IA) Thursday, May 9th at 2 PM. This regional will be hosted by No. 4 St. Thomas and the other team in the pod will be Northwestern-St. Paul.
This will be the 12th NCAA Tournament appearance for the Blugold softball team and their first since 2013. They are hoping to ride their recent momentum and make a deep postseason run, as they did when they won the National Title in 2008 and finished third in 2007.
The Blugold offense has been fueled all season long by catcher Abbey Place (So.-Naperville, IL/Naperville Central) who has a .330 average and leads the team with 20 runs batted in. Mikayla McEnery (So.-Savage, MN/Prior Lake) will also hope to continue her offensive success, as will Brooke Varian (Sr.-Madison, WI/West), who leads the team with 12 doubles.
Pitching will also be key for Eau Claire, with Sarah Peka (Jr.-Chanhassen, MN/Minnetonka) and Cheyenne Johnson (Jr.-Poplar, WI/Northwestern) leading the way. Peka has gone 12-6 on the season and recorded a 1.71 ERA. Johnson has managed a 1.82 ERA and pitched well in the clutch, with four saves.
Wartburg sits at 26-11 overall on the season, with an 11-5 record in the American Rivers Conference. The Knights have an explosive offense, coming in 20th in DIII in batting average (.350) and second in stolen bases per game with 4.22.
The winner of this game will play Friday, May 10th at 12 PM again on the St. Thomas campus. The NCAA Finals will wrap up May 23-28 at Suddenlink Field in Tyler, Texas.
Live stats and video will be available on Blugold Game Day or on the free 'UWEC Blugolds' app on your mobile device as will the link to the audio broadcast, which will also be available on Converge Radio 99.9 FM.