WHITEWATER, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – While the first four innings of today's NCAA Division III Softball Regional saw just four hits and two runs, UW-Eau Claire and North Central College (Ill.) combined to score 19 more runs and 16 hits but the Cardinals came out on top, beating the Blugolds 12-10 at van Steenderen Field.
The Blugolds struck first with Amanda Fischer (So.-Wausau, Wis./West) scoring a run in the bottom of the second. North Central tied the game up in the top of the fourth and the score remained tied at 1-1 after four innings.
In the top of the fifth, the Cardinals scored twice with just one out and then with two runners on bases, Amanda Walker hit a three-run homer down the left field line to give North Central a 6-1 lead. North Central scored one more run in the top of the sixth.
Down 7-1, the Blugolds didn't go quietly and regained the lead (8-7) with seven runs in the bottom of the sixth. Amanda Houle (Jr.-Chisago City, Minn./Chisago Lakes) scored the Blugolds' first run and Sarah Fern (Sr.-Brooklyn Center, Minn./Park Center) hit a double right after the run, scoring Abby Hansen (Fr.-Kaukauna, Wis.) and Jenny Hess (Sr.-Wisconsin Rapids, Wis./Lincoln). After two more runs came in, the Blugolds took the lead following a throwing error as Brooks and Taylor Pierce (So.-Ashwaubenon, Wis.) scored runs.
But just when Eau Claire had some momentum, the Cardinals took back the lead with five runs in the seventh to go up 12-8. With one more chance in the bottom of the seventh, Hansen got on base right away but North Central recorded two straight outs before Pierce cleared the bases with a home run to center field. One more Blugold got on base but a groundout ended the Blugolds' comeback short.
Three Blugolds finished the game with two hits each as the team recorded a total of nine hits. Fischer stole two bases and now has a total of 31 for the season, fourth most in school history. She needs just three more to tie a school single season record.
In the circle, Emma Wishau (Jr.-Burlington, Wis./Waterford Union) pitched 4.1 innings but was relieved after giving up seven hits and six runs while striking out three batters. Zana Lorbetske (Fr.-Rhinelander, Wis./Three Lakes) came in next and pitched 1.2 innings before Laura Raflik (So.-Plover, Wis./Pacelli) relieved her to close the game. Lorbetske gave up four runs while Raflik gave up two to receive the loss. She dropped to 7-2 on the season.
The Blugolds are now 26-8 overall while North Central improves to 33-10.
Eau Claire will now play at 1 p.m. Friday in an elimination game but an opponent will be determined tomorrow morning. Illinois Wesleyan University and Benedictine (Ill.) were scheduled to played Thursday evening but rain postponed the game until Friday at 9 a.m. The Blugolds will take on the loser of Friday morning's contest.