Over-shadowed by great pitching this season, the offense of the Warhawks has gone unrecognized.
But the balance across the ’Hawks’ lineup makes them a nightmare for any opposing pitcher.
“It’s peace of mind to know that if I do my job to hold our opponents to as few runs as possible, the hitters will back me up 100 percent and score as many runs as possible to give us the best chance to win,” senior pitcher Jessica Stang said.”
Much of the production has come through the play of sophomore outfielder Amanda Mertes. She leads the team in hits (32) and runs (20), and is doing her part to keep the pressure off the pitching staff and provide some run-support.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to get on base, because I know that I have amazing hitters behind me,” Mertes said. “I am confident that they will hit me in.”
The team seems to see the ball clearly, maintaining a batting average of .318. Senior third baseman Lauren Rankins is second on the team with a .431 batting average and two triples on the season.
“I think we’re going up to the plate more confident than we have in the past,” Mertes said. “I think as a team we have to stay confident up at the plate and believe in our preparation and abilities.”
The small ball style of the ’Hawks gets the team out and running the bases and stretching the innings for the opposing pitcher and wearing out the oppositions defense.
A big reason for the long innings, is due to the base running of the ’Hawks. The team has 25 steals and is led by Mertes, who has 11 steals on 12 attempts. Their ability to advance their runners from first base helps contribute to the ’Hawks not hitting into a double play l this season.
Their strong play is getting attention outside of conference play.
UW-Whitewater is now ranked No. 8 in the nation by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III poll.
The ’Hawks hosted the UW-La Crosse Eagles April 9 and split the doubleheader, winning the first game, 2-0, while losing the second game, 3-2, in extra innings. The ’Hawks are now 4-2 in conference play.
The ’Hawks’ next three opponents are conference foes (UW-Oshkosh, UW-Eau-Claire, UW-Platteville). They travel today to face the UW-Oshkosh Titans.