Softball wins home debut

Pioneers defeat Clarke 2-1, 6-3 in doubleheader sweep

Jeremy Williamson, Sports Editor

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville softball team (10-9) swept its home-opening doubleheader against Clarke University (11-9) on March 31.

The Pioneers pulled out a narrow 2-1 victory in the first game and used a four-run first inning to take the second game 6-3.

Both games were held at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium due to poor field conditions at the UW-Platteville Softball Complex.

Both teams failed to gain the upperhand early in game one, as neither lineup scored until the fifth inning when the Crusaders used three consecutive singles to bring a runner home.

UW-Platteville tied the game in their half of the fifth when junior shortstop Lisa Karau walked and immediately stole second to put herself in a scoring position. She later scored on freshman third baseman Chelsey Walker’s RBI single.

In the bottom of the seventh, Karau acted as the table-setter, singling up the middle and stealing second again during the next at-bat.

Two batters later, senior centerfielder Becca Lowe, who was 0-3 at the plate for the game, belted a walk-off single to center to secure the win.

“I had to go up there with a lot of confidence and realized that I had to come up big and pull through for my team,” Lowe said.

The Pioneers’ freshman starting pitcher Jessica Butzen earned her fourth victory of the year with a complete-game, five-strikeout performance.

“Jessica is a kid with a rubber arm; she never gets tired,” head coach Lee Negrelli said. “She would throw every day and every minute if I would let her.”

The second game began with a stressful inning for Pioneer sophomore starter Keri Treml, who allowed two walks to start the inning but bore down to get a strikeout for the first out.

The Pioneer infield did their part to get Treml out of the jam, as Walker fielded a hard-hit grounder and got a force out at third base for an out, followed by junior second baseman Katie Huss, who got the third out on a grounder between first and second.

UW-Platteville’s top of the order loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, and Walker sent a two-RBI double to deep center for the first runs of the ballgame.

One batter later, junior first baseman Haley Salazar sent a RBI single to left field, and was able to reach third base after a fielding error by the Clarke catcher, which also allowed another base runner to score.

After the Pioneers’ 4-0 start, the Crusaders were able to score two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to cut the UW-Platteville lead down to 4-3.

In the bottom of the sixth, Salazar drilled a two-run home run to left, bringing in two insurance runs, and Butzen shut the door in the top of the seventh to earn her first save of the season.

Treml earned the win, pitching five innings, allowing six hits and two runs, while sophomore pitcher Cassie Roach helped the Pioneers through the sixth inning, allowing just one run.

“I think we’re definitely a good trio,” Butzen said. “The three of us handle things pretty evenly together.”

Salazar and Walker paced the offense, as both went 2-6 in the evening with three RBIs and one run scored.

“From the start, we knew that we were going to have to play tough. It was our first game at home and at the stadium,” Negrelli said. “We were comfortable and strong with our hitting, which was amazing. We had to adjust to the winds, but we did a good job of recognizing where we needed to make changes.”