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UW-Whitewater softball team wins two to join final three

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John Montgomery/Special to the Gazette
May 19, 2008
— Prolonged rain delays and doubleheaders normally don’t make for pleasant theater, but after Sunday’s experience in the NCAA Division III Softball World Series, UW-Whitewater wouldn’t mind a few more such scenarios.

Behind the arm of freshman pitching sensation Jessica Stang, the Warhawks shut out Ithaca (N.Y.) College, 4-0, late Sunday night, recording their second victory of the day.


Whitewater came from behind to knock off Muskingum (Ohio) College, 5-3, earlier in the evening. That game was supposed to start at 2:30 p.m. and concluded at 7:15 because of two thunderstorms.


With a 3-1 tournament record, Whitewater (38-10) is one of three teams still in contention for the national championship. The other two are Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival UW-Eau Claire (35-11) and No. 1 seed Louisiana College (44-6), which lost 2-1 to Eau Claire in a battle of unbeatens Sunday afternoon.


Stang (15-5) picked up both Whitewater wins Sunday, relieving Nikole Schulty after just one inning in the first game and throwing a complete game against Ithaca.


Stang has pitched 26 2/3 innings in the tournament, recording 21 strikeouts and allowing just two earned runs. She has thrown 399 pitches in slightly more than 48 hours.


Whitewater coach Brenda Volk was non-committal as to whether Stang would pitch today.


After a series-opening, 5-4 loss to Cortland (N.Y.) State on Friday, Whitewater has won three consecutive games in the losers’ bracket. The Warhawks play Louisiana College at 11 a.m. (CDT) today for the right to face Eau Claire a few hours later.


Eau Claire, whom Whitewater has beaten twice this year, is the only team without a loss in the double-elimination tournament. As a result, the Blugolds are seeded into today’s second game.


The Blugolds would take the title by winning today. If they lose, the championship will be decided Tuesday in a rematch of the final two teams.


Volk was jubilant as the rains returned for the third time minutes after Sunday’s final game.


“I thought this was one of our best games all year,” she said. “Our pitching was amazing, our defense was outstanding, and we also got some timely hits.”


Suzanne Gersich and Lauren Cruz, Whitewater’s No. 3 and No. 4 batters, had two hits apiece, with Gersich’s fifth-inning single driving in three runs against Ithaca.


Whitewater had loaded the bases without a hit—as catcher Liz Yucuis walked, designated player Alli Driscoll was hit by a pitch and center fielder Amy Gahl reached on an error. Second baseman Ashley Smith then forced Yucuis out at home on a fielder’s choice, but Gersich followed with a bullet down the right-field line that cleared the bases.


Driscoll and Gahl scored easily. Smith, running all the way, slid under catcher Stacy Pelesz’s tag.


Third baseman Lauren Rankins drove in Cruz with a fourth-inning single for Whitewater’s first run against the Bombers.


Stang was dominant against Ithaca (36-12), striking out five of the first six batters and allowing just four hits overall. No Bomber made it past second base.


Volk went with Whitewater’s No. 2 pitcher, Schulty, against Muskingum, hoping to rest Stang. Schulty had a 10-2 record and a 2.50 ERA this season, but she ran into trouble against the Muskies.


Muskingum catcher Kari Hoying hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and even the Muskies’ outs were hard-hit balls. When Schulty allowed another single to open the second inning, Volk called for Stang.


As the rain returned, Stang lost the grip on her first pitch and bounced the ball halfway to the plate. The umpires stopped the game, and after an approximately 90-minute delay, Stang and Warhawks returned to the diamond refreshed.


In the top of the third, Gahl, Gersich and Cruz hit home runs as Whitewater gained a two-run advantage.


The Warhawks now have hit 66 home runs on the season, five in the national tournament.


“We’ve hit three home runs in one game (previously) this season, but I don’t recall us doing it in one inning,” Volk said.


Smith drove in Driscoll with an insurance run in the fourth.


Gersich and Cruz have been jockeying back and forth for the team lead in RBIs, and after her five Sunday, Gersich now leads on the season 52-48.


“I know if I don’t knock in the runs, someone else on our team will,” Gersich said.


And the Muskies know all about that.


“There’s no one in Whitewater’s first six hitters you can pitch around,” said Muskingum coach Donna Newbury, the all-time career leader in NCAA Division III with 858 wins.


WHITEWATER 5, MUSKINGUM 3


Whitewater—Gahl, cf, 4-1-1-1; Smith, 2b, 3-1-1-1; Gersich, rf, 4-1-2-2; Cruz, lf, 3-1-1-1; LeBeau, ss, 2-0-0-0; Brennfleck, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Rankins, 3b, 2-0-0-0; Solberg, pr, 0-0-0-0; Yucuis, c, 2-0-0-0; Driscoll, dh, 3-1-1-0. Totals: 26-5-6-5.


Muskingum—Mann, rf, 3-1-0-0; Echelberger, ss, 3-0-0-0; Dance, dh, 3-0-0-0; Hoying, c, 3-1-1-2; Boda, 1b, 2-1-0-0; Hay, lf, 3-0-1-0; Fields, 3b, 3-0-2-0; Warner, 2b, 3-0-0-0; Bosway, cf/ph, 1-0-0-0; Thompson, 1-0-0-1; Reese, ph, 1-0-0-0. Totals: 26-3-4-3.


UW-Whitewater 004 100 0—5


Muskingum 200 100 0—3


E—LeBeau, Rankins. LOB—Whitewater 4, Muskingum 5. 2B—Fields. HR—Gahl, Gersich, Hoying. SH—Yucuis, Echelberger.


UW-Whitewater IP H R ER BB SO


Schulty 1 2 2 2 1 0


Stang (W, 14-5) 6 2 1 0 1 1


Muskingum IP H R ER BB SO


Mattin (L, 29-8) 2.2 4 4 4 1 3


Martin 4.1 2 1 1 2 1


PB—Yucuis.


Time—3:15. Attendance—362.


WHITEWATER 4, ITHACA 0


Ithaca—Cutspec, ss, 2-0-0-0; Feldman, cf, 3-0-1-0; Greaney, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Barger, dh, 3-0-1-0; Lillie, pr, 0-0-0-0; Cade, lf, 3-0-0-0; Kowalsick, rf, 3-0-0-0; Ryan, 1b, 2-0-1-0; Corrado, pr, 0-0-0-0; Pelesz, c, 2-0-0-0; Stangarone, 2b, 2-0-1-0. Totals: 23-0-4-0.


Whitewater—Gahl, cf, 4-1-1-0; Smith, 2b, 3-1-0-0; Gersich, rf, 3-0-2-3; Cruz, lf, 3-1-2-0; LeBeau, ss, 1-0-0-0; Brennfleck, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Rankins, 3b, 2-0-1-1; Bothun, pr, 0-0-0-0; Yucuis, c, 1-0-0-0; Driscoll, dh, 2-1-0-0. Totals: 22-4-6-4.


Ithaca 000 000 0—0


UW-Whitewater 000 130 x—4


E—Myers 2. DP—Whitewater 1. LOB—Ithaca 3, Whitewater 6. 2B—Barger, Gersich. HBP—Driscoll. SH—Cutspec, LeBeau, Yucuis. SB—Corrado, LeBeau.


Ithaca IP H R ER BB SO


Myers (L, 19-6) 6 6 4 3 3 2


UW-Whitewater IP H R ER BB SO


Stang (W, 15-5) 7 4 0 0 0 8


HBP—by Myers (Driscoll).


Time—1:25. Attendance—246.


NCAA DIVISION III SOFTBALL


World Series


At Salem Va.


(Central Times)


RESULTS FRIDAY


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


RESULTS SATURDAY


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


RESULTS SUNDAY


Game 9—Ithaca 8, Corland State 1 (Cortland eliminated)


Game 10—UW-Whitewater 5, Muskingum 3 (Muskingum eliminated)


Game 11—UW-Eau Claire 2, Louisiana College 1


Game 12—UW-Whitewater 4, Ithaca 0 (Ithaca eliminated)


GAMES TODAY


Game 13—UW-Whitewater (38-10) vs. Louisiana College (44-6), 11 a.m.


Game 14—UW-Eau Claire (35-11) vs. Game 13, 1:30 p.m.


GAME TUESDAY


Game 15—Game 14 rematch, if necessary, 10 a.m.



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