Softball splits weekend twin bills

Colten Bartholomew, Sports Editor

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Inconsistency has been a central theme of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville softball season.  After sweeping the No. 25 University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Saturday, the Pioneers were swept by University of Wisconsin-Stout Sunday.

“We can’t play that inconsistent,” senior catcher Molly Rice said Sunday.  “We have to play to win no matter who we play.  Good or bad.”

Saturday’s games started with a 3-2 win in 8 innings for the Pioneers.  After four scoreless innings, University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ designated player Brooke Lauritzen belted a two-run home run over the left field wall off of UW-Platteville starter Jeni Freiburger.

The Pioneers answered in their half of the fifth when a wild pitch brought a run home.  A second run was negated on a questionable foul ball call down the line by first base umpire Tom Ueberroth.

Freiburger found her groove on the mound again, keeping the Falcons off the scoreboard for the rest of the contest.  The Pioneers tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when senior catcher Molly Rice’s groundout brought home senior third baseman Collen Lowe, who tripled to start the inning.

The Falcons went down in order in the extra frame and set up a dramatic finish.  Junior first baseman Becca Lowe singled to start the inning and moved to second on a throwing error.  Lowe moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and with two outs, freshman designated player Carley Rote singled Lowe in for the walk-off win.

“I knew I had to come up with a big hit, and I came through,” Rote said after the game.

Rote continued her hot day at the plate in the first inning of game two of the double header, drilling a two-run home run over the left field fence.

That was all the offense that senior pitcher Melissa Anderson would need in the game, as she shut out the Falcons for a 3-0 win.

Anderson struck out seven and limited the Falcons to just three hits in the complete-game win, her third win of the season.

“I feel pretty amazing right now,” Anderson said.  “It was very empowering.”

Anderson and head coach Lee Negrelli cited a high-level understanding of the scouting report against the Falcons as a key factor in the win.

“Our pitchers did a really great job of studying the scouting report, knew what pitches to throw to what hitters, and knew where to throw the ball to get the outs that we needed today,” Negrelli said.

The Pioneers’ momentum did not carry on into Sunday’s matchups with UW-Stout.

After building a 4-1 lead in game one, Freiburger started losing control of her pitches, allowing Blue Devil hitters to get in good hitter’s counts and be selective of pitches to swing at.  After surrendering two runs in the sixth, Freiburger allowed a solo home run which tied the game in the seventh.  The Pioneers lost the game in the ninth inning after interference was called on Rice on a play at the plate.

“It’s hard to come off a game that ended like that did, and it’s frustrating,” Negrelli said.

In game two, Anderson struggled early, allowing back-to-back home runs to the second and third batters that she faced.  Her day would not improve allowing seven runs, three unearned, in just four innings of work in the 13-6 loss.

“(Saturday) all her pitches were working, and she was hitting her spots. Today just wasn’t her day,” Negrelli said. “Stout was sitting over the plate a little bit too much and took advantage.”

Rice who went 0-4 in the first game, went 3-3 with two RBIs in game two, helping to pace the offense.

“I was swinging angry,” Rice said.  “The first game fired me up because I went 0-4, so I was just swinging hard trying to drive the ball.”

All four games were played at Butch Lietl Field at Pioneer Stadium because field conditions at the UW-Platteville Softball Complex did not allow for play.  Butch Lietl Field also hosted eight other WIAC games as fields across the state were not playable.

“It looks different spatially, but after the first couple innings, you just get used to it,” Rice said.

Rice also mentioned that batted balls bounced more off of the turf as compared to grass, but the Pioneers were ready for that having practiced on the field twice before the weekend.

The Pioneers play next Friday night against Millikin College in a non-conference game hosted by Beloit College; then, they will return home for a WIAC double header against University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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