Royal Purple

Softball secures sixth straight WIAC title

The+Warhawks+celebrate+after+recieving+the+WIAC+Championship+Tournament+trophy+for+the+sixth+consecutive+season.+The+six+straight+tournament+championships+is+the+longest+streak+in+conference+history.%0A
The Warhawks celebrate after recieving the WIAC Championship Tournament trophy for the sixth consecutive season. The six straight tournament championships is the longest streak in conference history.

The Warhawks celebrate after recieving the WIAC Championship Tournament trophy for the sixth consecutive season. The six straight tournament championships is the longest streak in conference history.

Jack Miller

Jack Miller

The Warhawks celebrate after recieving the WIAC Championship Tournament trophy for the sixth consecutive season. The six straight tournament championships is the longest streak in conference history.

Kolton Hegstrom, Sports Editor

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After winning back-to-back regular season WIAC championships for the first time since 2008-2009, the Warhawks softball team won their sixth consecutive WIAC Conference tournament.

The Warhawks defeated the UW-Oshkosh Titans 6-5 on championship Sunday to claim their automatic bid to the NCAA DIII tournament.

 

Championship Game: UW-W 6 – UW-O 5

 

For the fourth time this season the Warhawks softball team topped the Titans by one run, this time to claim the WIAC Tournament championship. The Warhawks’ 6-5 victory came in a back and forth affair that saw the Titans grab a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth off a home run. The Warhawks tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back errors from the Titans.

After tying the game 3-3 the Titans responded with another home run to grab a 4-3 lead, but that lead didn’t last long as the Warhawks’ catcher Nicole Neitzel knocked a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth to grab a lead UW-W would never surrender. The Warhawks added an insurance run on a single from freshman Michelle Birkholz later in the fifth to increase the lead to two.

“This last week we focused on just winning each inning, kind of having seven separate games,” UW-W head coach Brenda Volk said. “So every time Oshkosh scored we came in the huddle the team was like ‘hey, let’s win this inning,’ and they did.”

The Titans scored a run in the top of the sixth inning to trim the lead to one, but could not muster the game-tying run down the stretch.

Junior pitcher Julia Camardo got the start on the mound for the Warhawks allowing seven hits and four earned runs in a little more than four innings. Sophomore Dani Biesiada came in for relief duties and allowed just one run and one hit in a little over two innings of action.

 

UW-W 7 – UW-EC 0

 

The Warhawks looked the part of the No. 1 seed in their opening win of the WIAC tournament when they defeated UW-Eau Claire 7-0.

UW-W scored five runs in the third inning to break the game open. The first came when junior shortstop Kelly Berglund reached home plate after a bases loaded single from Klotz. It was Klotz’ 32nd RBI of the season as the senior got her team’s scoring started in her fourth straight appearance in the WIAC Tournament. In the Warhawks’ next at-bat, junior Emily Rux single to right-center drove in home two runs, handing the Warhawks a 3-0 advantage. During the next at-bat Klotz was able to reach home plate off a wild pitch. The Blugolds were eventually able to retire the Warhawks’ side, but not until junior first baseman Molly Ethington’s two-out double drove Rux home to give the Warhawks a commanding 5-0 lead.

UW-W added two runs to their lead in the bottom of the fifth. Ethington recorded her second and third RBIs of the game on a double that drove home Klotz and and junior Kayla Seymor. Ethington led the bats for the ’Hawks as she finished the game with two hits and three RBIs, and Klotz wasn’t far behind with two hits, two runs scored and one RBI.

“Top to bottom, one through nine we’re all great hitters,” Rux said. “On any given day I’d put money on anyone in the lineup to get a run, and I’m confident with anyone at the plate.”

With the way that UW-W Julia Camardo was pitching the Warhawks would have only needed one run to come out on top. Camardo pitched a shutout through the entire game. Through seven innings Camardo only surrendered three hits compared to eight strikeouts.

“Eau Claire is really good at catching up to speed, so my pitching coach had me throw a lot of change ups to keep them off balance and I think that’s what allowed us to not let any runners score,” Camardo said.

The Blugolds were close to scoring on a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning when Warhawks right fielder Kaiden Jackson reached over the right field fence robbing the Eau Claire player of the score.

“I joked with her right after saying ‘that’s gonna be in my dreams for the next three months,” Camardo said about the play from Jackson. “That was the definition of a Sports Center play.”

The win earned UW-W a second round matchup with the UW-Oshkosh Titans.

 

UW-W 6 – UW-O 5

 

It took five unearned runs, two comebacks – including one in the bottom of the sixth – and a bases loaded walk in extra innings for the Warhawks to come out on top in the second round of the WIAC Championship.

The Titans got the scoring started in the top of the second inning when Tupa knocked a three-run home run deep into left center, handing the Titans a 3-0 lead.

The Warhawks answered in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore Nikki Mikosz hit a shot deep into left field that the Titans could not handle, driving in three Warhawks’ runs.

“We persevere no matter what and that’s what is so great about us,” junior Caitlin Catino said. “That comeback was the epitome of Warhawk softball.”

The Titans added two runs in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Tupa, but the Warhawks were quick to answer. In the bottom of the sixth inning Berglund had an infield hit that split the legs of the Titans’ first basemen. This error allowed Catino and Jackson to reach home plate, tying the game at five a piece.

Both teams couldn’t find a rhythm in the first set of extra innings, but the Warhawks got the bats going in the bottom of the eighth. Mikosz and Berglund were able to load up the bases, bringing the Warhawks back to the top of the order with Catino up to bat. Catino then took a bases loaded walk with a full count to register the Warhawks only RBI in the game handing UW-W the 6-5 win.

“I was chasing balls earlier so my mindset was if it’s there it’s there, but if it’s not just take the ball so I think that really helped me get the walk,” Catino said.

Sophomore pitcher Bella Matthias got the start on the mound for the Warhawks. She allowed three hits and three runs while recording four strikeouts in a little over four innings of play. Camardo came in for relief duties, allowing five hits and two runs in a just over three innings.

The win earned the Warhawks a spot in the championship game on May 6 where they defeated UW-O.

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Softball secures sixth straight WIAC title