Softball: Krisch rides power surge


Junior first baseman Morgan Krisch


By Zach Hicks

Warhawks first baseman Morgan Krisch has always been a good hitter.
In 23 at-bats as a freshman, Krisch hit .391 with a .500 on base percentage. Not too shabby for your first year of NCAA softball. It wasn’t until last season, her sophomore year, that Krisch became a regular on the diamond for the ’Hawks.
She started all 43 games while batting .345. Krisch had become known for hitting the ball hard but lacked power.
While she led the team in doubles with 15, Krisch had two home runs and one triple. This season, through 33 games, Krisch has taken a huge step forward.
Her six homeruns tie Samie Seamon for the team lead. Krisch also is first in hits (37), at-bats (106), RBIs (28) and second in triples (3). Coming into the season, we expected big things from the softball team.
We knew what we had: nine returning starters to a team that had narrowly missed an NCAA Tournament berth and a conference championship in 2012. As the team enters the WIAC Tournament this weekend, it has a slightly different look to it.
Reigning WIAC Position Player of the Year Emily Epifanio is, as always, the big bat teams will look to avoid being punished by. Seamon also boasts a big bat that has exhibited power since last year. Seamon saw a big jump in her power production from her freshman year to her sophomore year.
What we did not expect is Krisch to join Seamon and Epifanio in the slugger category. Her aggressiveness at the plate always has led to good production, although it’s also led to a team-leading 21 strikeouts. Krisch’s emergence gives the ’Hawks something they might not have expected.
Their entire lineup is riddled with great hitters. Krisch’s surge means the team has yet another elite power bat in the lineup that can provide some pop and also protect Seamon and Epifanio from being pitched around.
Boyle rules
Senior pitcher Katie Boyle, 15-2, saw her scoreless innings streak come to an end against UW- Eau Claire on Saturday. Boyle went into the fifth inning before giving up a run, and was coming off back-to-back shutout performances against UW-Platteville and UW-Stevens Point.
Boyle, along with sophomore pitcher Bekka Houda, 14-3, have been instrumental in the ’Hawks’ success this year. While the ’Hawks score runs easily, it’s important that fans don’t overlook the pitching duo of Boyle and Houda.
They are two big reasons why the ’Hawks have the No. 1 seed in the WIAC Tournament. With the WIAC Tournament upon us this weekend, the ’Hawks will look to exact revenge on UW-River Falls, who knocked them out of the tournament last season.
Surprisingly, the ’Hawks did not receive an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Unlike basketball, where a team that has a great season but does not win its conference tournament usually receives an at-large bid, softball is not the same.
It’s much harder to secure an at-large bid, even with a strong record. The ’Hawks defeated the University of Chicago this year, which should help. Unfortunately, the doubleheader scheduled with Illinois Wesleyan, a top softball program, was cancelled.
The ’Hawks should win the WIAC tournament, and we at the Royal Purple, predict them to. This team’s lineup, with Kirsch’s emergence, is too powerful. Houda and Boyle seem to be pitching their best softball of the year.
A WIAC Championship is within reach for the ’Hawks, which would be their first victory since 2009.

Powerful, aggressive and tough, this team should win its conference and contend for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
The ’Hawks will host the WIAC Tournament starting on Friday.
Be sure to follow @RP_Sports on Twitter for updates about the WIAC Tournament schedule.