Softball: ‘Hawks win WIAC title

 

May 7, 2014

By Ryan Altman

 

Every time the UW-Whitewater women’s softball team found themselves trailing on the scoreboard, the ’Hawks immediately had an answer for their opponents in the WIAC tournament.

In the five games of the tournament last weekend, hosted by UW-Stout, the ’Hawks’ resiliency eventually earned the team back-to-back conference and WIAC championships, and a spot in the NCAA Division-III tournament. This win also marked their seventh overall WIAC title.

In their opening game May 2, the ’Hawks (31-9) scored one run in both the second and fourth innings to slip past No. 5 UW-La Crosse, 2-1.

Junior Bekka Houda (15-4 overall record) pitched seven innings, striking out six, while giving up one run on four hits.

“I just really wanted to do as good as I could on the mound,” Houda said. “I don’t get to hit, so it was also important for our offense to score as many runs as they could.”

The Warhawks returned to action on May 3 against No. 4 UW-Eau Claire (20-16). Six ’Hawks recorded two hits each, while putting up an offensive display in their 9-1 second-round victory over the Blugolds.

Freshman designated hitter Amy Ricci led the ’Hawks with three RBI, going 2-for-4. Also, senior left fielder Samie Seamon went 2-for-2 with an RBI.

The Blugolds’ lone run came on junior Kelynn Sporer’s wild pitch in the fifth inning. Sporer (12-5) gave up one unearned run on four hits over seven innings, while recording seven strikeouts.

“We knew our pitching was going to be key this weekend,” head coach Brenda Volk said. “Bekka had some great games and Kelynn pitched a good game against [UW]-Eau Claire.”

Junior Paige Evangelista’s ninth inning homerun against the UW-Stout Blue Devils propelled the ’Hawks into the championship series with a 3-2 walk-off victory.

After the Blue Devils jumped to an early lead in the top of the first inning, the ’Hawks responded in the bottom half of the inning, as Evangelista singled up the middle to bring in Kelly McGrail from third.

The score remained the same into the eighth, until Blue Devils catcher Sam Hastings launched a solo homerun, putting the Blue Devils ahead again, 2-1. The ’Hawks answered back, tying up the score again, 2-2, when McGrail scored on a wild pitch. McGrail was 3-for-4, scoring two runs.

“The team always believes they can come back,” Volk said. “It’s something that we feel we are always capable of doing.”

Leading off the bottom of the ninth, Evangelista (3-for-4, 2 RBI) connected with her fourth homerun of the season to give the ’Hawks the 3-2 win. Houda picked up another win on the mound.

The championship pitted the Warhawks against their first round opponent, UW-La Crosse, but it would take two games for the ’Hawks to clinch the title.

The ’Hawks fell short in their comeback bid, dropping game one, 5-4.

In game two, the ’Hawks scored five runs on 12 hits, beating the Eagles, 5-1, to win the WIAC crown.  McGrail, Ricci, Seamon and senior shortstop Lauren Eichenold all recorded RBIs for the ’Hawks. Houda gave up only one run for her 15th win of 2014.

The ’Hawks now move onto the NCAA Regionals on May 9 in Chicago, Ill., where they will face Benedictine University.

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