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UW-Eau Claire Picked To Win Softball Title

03/09/2017, 3:30pm CST
By Contributed

Blugolds seeking 12th WIAC title in program history

MADISON, Wis.--University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the two-time defending conference champion, has been picked to win the 2017 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) softball championship, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.

The Blugolds captured the 11th WIAC regular-season title in program history last season and welcome back 15 letterwinners and three all-conference first team selections from that squad. UW-Eau Claire entered the 2017 season ranked No. 19 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Senior infielder Evie Schaller was selected the WIAC Co-Position Player of the Year in 2016 after she led the league with 15 doubles and 43 RBI, while ranking second with a .409 batting average and 52 hits. Senior righthanded pitcher Lauren Blasczyk has secured All-WIAC first team accolades the last two years, and a season ago, led the conference with a 1.51 earned run average, while ranking second with 14 wins and third with 134.2 innings pitched.

 

UW-Whitewater is slotted for second in the eight-team league race and has won four straight WIAC tournament crowns – the longest streak in conference history. The Warhawks bring back four All-WIAC first team honorees from last season, including sophomore righthanded pitcher Julia Carmado and sophomore outfielder Caitlin Catino.

 

The Warhawks are followed in the predictions by:  UW-Oshkosh; UW-La Crosse; UW-Stout; UW-River Falls; UW-Stevens Point; and UW-Platteville.

 

UW-Oshkosh brings back sophomore catcher Abby Menting, who shared Position Player of the Year recognition with Schaller. The Titans also return senior Sara Brunlieb, who claimed Pitcher of the Year recognition in 2015. UW-La Crosse’s roster features sophomore Caitlyn Hughes the 2016 WIAC Pitcher of the Year.

 

The 2017 campaign welcomes a new head coach to the conference as Andie Varsho assumes the lead role at UW-Platteville. Most recently, she was a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin. Varsho played collegiately at Purdue University where she holds the school record for longest hitting streak at 22 games.

 

2017 Preseason Predictions (Voted on by WIAC head coaches and sports information directors)

                                                                2016 Record

1. UW-Eau Claire                              (26-13-1 overall, 11-2-1 WIAC)

2. UW-Whitewater                          (29-14, 8-5)

3. UW-Oshkosh                                (26-13, 10-4)

4. UW-La Crosse                               (26-14, 10-4)

5. UW-Stout                                       (17-21, 6-8)

6. UW-River Falls                              (14-22-1, 5-8-1)

7. UW-Stevens Point                      (14-22, 3-10)

8. UW-Platteville                              (4-26, 1-13)

 

Team Vitals (Entering the 2017 season)

 

UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach:  Leslie Huntington; 16th season at UWEC; 421-217-1

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  15/8
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  7/2
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  1/2
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  0/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Lauren Blasczyk, Sr., RHP (2015-First, 2016-First); Rachel Heffel, Sr., OF (2016-Honorable); Evie Schaller, Sr., INF (2016-First/Co-Position Player of the Year); Brooke Varian, So., C/INF (2016-Honorable); Leah Wolff, Sr., INF (2016-First)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Bri Calder, So., 1B; Kelsey Meredith, Sr., OF

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  None

 

 

UW-La Crosse
Head Coach:  Chris Helixon; 16th season (12th at UWL); 324-264-1 (overall) / 272-173 (UWL)

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/10
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  3/6
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/1
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Brittany Baldwin, Jr., OF (2015-Honorable, 2016-First); Caitlyn Hughes, So., RHP (2016-First/Pitcher of the Year); Katie Klein, Jr., RHP (2015-Honorable)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Lane Dickman, Sr., SS/2B; Ashley Lindstrom, So., OF; Sydney Murphy, So., 3B

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Jessie Carignan, Sr., RHP

 

 

UW-Oshkosh
Head Coach:  Scott Beyer; 4th season at UWO; 79-36
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  10/6
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  7/2
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  4/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/0
Returning All-WIAC:  Erika Berry, Jr., 3B (2015-Honorable, 2016-First); Sara Brunlieb, Sr., RHP (2015-First/Pitcher of the Year, 2016-First); Abby Menting, So., C (2016-First/Co-Position Player of the Year); Lauren Torborg, Sr., OF (2016-First)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Paige Giese, Jr., 1B/RHP; Caitlin Hoerning, Jr., OF; Kaitlyn Krol, So., 1B

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Paige Giese, Jr., 1B/RHP; Clare Robbe, Jr., RHP

 

 

UW-Platteville
Head Coach:  Andie Varsho; 1st season at UWP; 0-0
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  7/3
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  5/3
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  1/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  0/0
Returning All-WIAC:  Emily Woodford, So., OF/2B (2016-Honorable)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Thianna Wegner, Sr., DP/C

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Jessica Butzen, Sr., RHP

 

 

UW-River Falls
Head Coach:  Amber Dohlman; 5th season (2nd at UWRF); 67-79-1 (overall) / 14-22-1 (UWRF)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/5
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  5/5
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/1
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  2/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Shannan Borchardt, Jr., OF (2016-First); Aiyana Ledwein, Jr., OF (2016-Honorable)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Ali Murray, Sr., SS; Erin Ralph, Jr., 3B

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Payton Speckel, So., RHP

 

 

UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach:  Ashley Steltenpohl; 7th season (3rd at UWSP); 88-139 (overall) / 29-46 (UWSP)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  16/9
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  8/2
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/0
Returning All-WIAC:  Paige Allen, Jr., OF (2015-Honorable); Alyssa Cooper, So., OF (2016-First)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Paige Kitzing, So., C

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Maddie Durie, So., LHP; Amelia Heup, So., RHP

 

 

UW-Stout
Head Coach:  Becky Iaccino; 3rd season (2nd season at UWST); 35-39 (overall) / 17-21 (UWST)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  8/8
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  6/4
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/1
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  0/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Rachel Thomas, Jr., C (2016-Honorable); Beth Wood, Jr., RHP/1B (2016-Honorable)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Heather Bol, Sr., 1B; Kaylee Francois, So., OF; Alicia Meyer, So., INF

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  McKayla Brunner, Sr., RHP

 

 

UW-Whitewater
Head Coach:  Brenda Volk; 19th season at UWW; 557-228-4

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  13/7
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  6/3
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  3/1
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/0
Returning All-WIAC:  Julia Camardo, So., RHP (2016-First); Caitlin Catino, So., OF (2016-First); Mallory Klotz, Jr., OF (2015-First, 2016-Honorable); Amy Ricci, Sr., 1B (2014-Honorable, 2016-First); Emily Rux, So., SS/C (2016-First)

 

Notable Returning Position Players:  Jessica Kaemerer, Sr., OF; Haley Morelli, Sr., OF; Michayla Swanson, Jr., INF

 

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Molly Ethington, So., LHP; Cara Smoczynski, Sr., RHP

 

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