Softball squad headed to NCAA Regionals

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May 6, 2015 By Andrew Lowe

The Whitewater women’s softball team overcame an opening game slip up against Stout to rally back to win four games, winning the WIAC postseason tournament and clinching an automatic bid into the NCAA regional.

The Warhawks opened up the tournament against UW-Stout Friday, dropping the game 9-5 to the Blue Devils.

The ’Hawks battled from behind right from the start as the Blue Devils led off the game with a leadoff home run.  UW-Stout scored five runs up in the third inning, set the ’Hawks behind 6-0, which would be enough to hold on for the victory.

Seniors Paige Evangelista, who went 1-for-2 with two RBIs, and Caitlin Snyder, 2-for-3, led the Warhawk offense.

With the loss to UW-Stout, the ’Hawks dropped into the loser’s bracket and had to face top-seeded UW-Eau Claire, who beat the ’Hawks in both regular season matchups in an elimination game Friday night.

Whitewater head coach Brenda Volk tried to get her team to refocus between games, using prior scenarios to show the team that it could still win the tournament.

“I told them that if any team was able to come back from a first game loss, it was us,” Volk said.  “I also reminded them that we lost our first game at regionals last year and came back to win it all.   We just needed to come back and play Warhawk softball, and I knew we would be fine.”Snyder_Caitlin_1_WEB

The ’Hawks would bounce back in the second game of the day, as they eliminated the Blugolds by a final score of 6-4.

Senior Kelynn Sporer and sophomore Hannah Taylor led the Warhawk offense, as they both went 3-for-3 in the game.

Senior Caitlin Snyder hit a deep sacrifice fly to put the Warhawks ahead 5-4 in the top of the seventh inning. Snyder, who is hitting .421 in the last 15 games, contributes her recent success to her teammates and coaches.

“Offense is a game of failure, and it’s so easy to lose confidence,” Snyder said. “I have to give credit to my teammates and coaches who pick me up after every at bat. We worked on the mental part of the game a lot these past few years and it’s starting to pay off at the plate. I’m just happy I can contribute the best way I know how.”

Whitewater took on UW-LaCrosse the next day and beat the Eagles by a final score of 10-3.

The Warhawks trailed for much of the game, but rallied back with five runs in the fifth and seventh innings, respectively.

Junior Maggie Hansen, 2-for-3 with four RBIs, sparked the Warhawk offense with her fifth inning grand slam home run, giving the ’Hawks the lead for good at 5-3.

Freshman Mallory Klotz went 3-for-4, and seniors Jo Jablonski and Snyder went 3-for-5 and 2-for-4, respectively, driving in a total of five runs.

The Warhawks then took on the Titans of UW-Oshkosh, beating them by the mercy rule 8-0 in five quick innings.

The ’Hawks offense scored early and often, driven by seniors Jablonski, Sporer and Deven DuCharme, who hit her team-high tenth home run of the season. Houda threw a complete-game shutout, only allowing four hits.

The victory over the Titans led to a championship matchup against UW-River Falls, who the ’Hawks defeated by a final score of 4-0. Sporer followed up Houda’s complete-game shutout of the Titans, with one of her own, shutting out the Falcons through seven innings.

The game stayed 0-0 through the first five innings, until the Warhawks scored three runs to take the lead for good. Offensively, seniors DuCharme and Jablonski drove in a total of two runs to lead their team to the win.

Moving forward, the ’Hawks look to the NCAA regional after clinching the automatic bid.

“The team is so excited to start the road to a championship,” Snyder said. “We have a lot of new faces and many of them learned quickly just how fun the ride is.”

Volk is also excited for her team to start the NCAA tournament.

“I am just really proud of what this team has accomplished so far and truly believe our success this year has been a complete team effort,” Volk said. “I am excited for the NCAA tournament and feel if we play like we are capable of, good things are going to happen.”headshot_1_BrendaVolk2012_croppedWEB

The Warhawks will face Lake Forest College at 11 a.m. on May 7 in Lake Forest, Illinois in the NCAA Regionals. It is guaranteed a game May 8 win or lose, but if it loses two games, its season is over.

If they advance to the Regional championship game, it will be played on May 9.

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