UW-Whitewater stays alive in softball World Series
Gahl, the Warhawks’ leadoff hit, opened the elimination game against Rhode Island College with an infield single. As Gahl is a .400 hitter this season, it wasn’t the hit itself that was unusual.
But before the next pitch, Gahl was standing on second. As Rhode Island College shortstop Kelsey Souza lobbed the ball back to her pitcher Jenna Deveines, Gahl saw the opportunity to bolt—and did.
“We’re always thinking about taking an extra base,” explained Whitewater coach Brenda Volk with a broad smile. “I was happy we jumped on them right away. It gave us a lot of confidence.”
Two batters later, Gahl scored the game’s first run. It was her 50th run of the season, tops on the squad.
Aggressive baserunning set the tone, as the Warhawks (36-10) dispatched Rhode Island, 4-1.
It was the second loss of the double elimination tournament for the Anchorwomen (36-9). Whitewater, which lost 5-4 to Cortland State of New York in Friday’s opening round, advances in the losers’ bracket to play Muskingum at 1:30 p.m. today. The tournament runs through Tuesday.
Three of the championship’s four opening-round games Friday were decided by one run, giving observers the impression that the competition might just be tighter than in years past.
Freshman pitcher Jessica Stang (13-5) limited Rhode Island to just four singles in Saturday’s complete game win. Two of the four hits allowed came in the first inning. She struck out seven, increasing her year’s total to 137, a school record.
Stang was boosted by Meghann Brennfleck’s two-run homer in the third, which made the score 4-0. The home run was Brennfleck’s third of the year, and the team’s 63rd.
“I just wanted to make contact,” the first baseman said. “I had been struggling a little at the plate.”
Brennfleck entered Saturday’s game hitting .307, but she had just nine extra base hits in 44 games.
Lauren Cruz, who provided significant offense (a home run and three RBIs, giving her the team lead for the season) in Friday’s game, opened the third inning with a single. Warhawk shortstop Amanda LeBeau, the team’s leading home run hitter (13), sacrificed Cruz to second, and then Brennfleck, who leads the team in sacrifices, delivered her clout over the right field fence.
It all made sense for a team whose mantra this season has been “Whatever It Takes.” “We’re able to manufacture one run at a time,” Volk said.
Whitewater’s other run came when Gahl drove in Lauren Rankins in the second. By that time, the Warhawks had already chased Deveines (14-4). Anchorwoman Melanie Neece, who won 21 games this season but had pitched Friday, relieved Deveines and finished Saturday’s game.
Rhode Island, which entered the eight-team tourney as the last seed, played top seed Louisiana College very closely on Friday, losing 1-0. On Saturday, the Anchorwomen scored their only run of the tournament in the top of the sixth. Pinch-hitter Cassandra Taverna connected on a single to center, scoring Kayla Jandreau and spoiling Stang’s shutout. “You learn from pressure situations,” Taverna said. “I wanted to contribute for our team.”
Stang threw 104 pitches, six less than she fired less than 24 hours earlier. In four separate innings Saturday, Stang retired the side. Stang has made three errors in the tournament, one more than she had made all season prior to Friday.
With two singles, Gahl recorded her 21st multiple-hit game, a team high.
Whitewater played just seven home games this season, a fact which Volk admitted might help the Warhawks as the tournament progresses. Saturday’s contest was the team’s 26th at a neutral site.
WHITEWATER 4, RHODE ISLAND 1
Rhode Island (ab-r-h-rbi)—Lotti, 1b, 4-0-1-0; Perrin, 4-0-0-0; Jandreau, dh, 2-1-1-0; Bilek, 3b, 1-0-1-0; Perry, 2b, 3-0-0-0; McCartin, lf, 2-0-0-0; Taverna, ph, 1-0-1-1; Mattoon, cf, 2-0-0-0; DeNoncour, ph, 1-0-0-0; Rosa, c, 3-0-0-0; Souza, ss, 2-0-0-0; Deveines, p, 0-0-0-0; Neece, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 25-1-4-1.
Whitewater (ab-r-h-rbi)—Gahl, cf, 4-1-2-1; Smith, 2b, 4-0-1-0; Gersich, rf, 3-0-1-1; Cruz, lf, 2-1-1-0; LeBeau, ss, 2-0-1-0; Brennfleck, 1b, 3-1-1-2; Rankins, 2b, 1-1-0-0; Yucuis, c, 2-0-0-0; Driscoll, dh, 2-0-0-0; Stang, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 23-4-7-4.
Rhode Island College 000 001 0—1
UW-Whitewater 112 000 x—4
E—Whitewater 1. LOB—Rhode Island 7, Whitewater 7. HR—Brennfleck.
Rhode Island IP H R ER BB SO
Deveines (L,14-4) 1 1/3 3 2 2 2 0
Neece 4 2/3 4 2 2 2 3
Stang (W, 13-5) 7 4 1 1 4 7
NCAA Division III softball
At Salem Va.
Game 1—Louisiana College 1, Rhode Island College 0
Game 2—Cortland State (N.Y.) 5, UW-Whitewater 4
Game 3—UW-Eau Claire 8, Ithaca (N.Y.) 0 (6)
Game 4—Lynchburg (Va.) vs. Muskingum (Ohio) 1, Lynchburg (Va.) 0
Game 5—UW-Whitewater 4, Rhode Island College 1 (Rhode Island College eliminated)
Game 6—Ithaca 4, Lynchburg 0 (Lynchburg eliminated)
Game 7—Louisiana College 3, Cortland State 1
Game 8—UW-Eau Claire 5, Muskingum 1
Game 9—Ithaca (35-11) vs. Cortland State (37-12), 11 a.m.
Game 10—UW-Whitewater (35-9) vs. Muskingum (41-11), 1:30 p.m.
Game 11—Louisiana College (44-5) vs. UW-Eau Claire (34-11), 4 p.m.
Game 12—Winner Game 9 vs. Winner game 10, 6:30 p.m.
Game 13—Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11, 11 a.m.
Game 14—Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13, 1:30 p.m.
Game 15—Game 14 rematch, if necessary, 10 a.m.