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Softball swept in Big Rivers play

Wildcat sophomore Rachel Matzek gets all of this pitch but lines it directly to the rightfielder in the Cats' 8-0 loss to Eau Claire Memorial in the first game of a doubleheader last Tuesday at the high school field. Memorial went on to win the second game, 8-2. Bob Burrows photo

The Wildcat softball team dropped a pair of Big Rivers Conference doubleheaders to Eau Claire Memorial and Menomonie last week before losing twice at Saturday's Pepin Tournament.

The Cats were swept by Memorial, 8-0 and 8-2 last Tuesday, and by Menomonie, 4-1 and 11-4 Thursday, before losing to Durand, 9-8 in the bottom of the seventh and Chippewa Falls McDonnell, 10-0, on Saturday.

River Falls, now 0-8 in the BRC, 3-11 overall, will host Baldwin-Woodville (9-6) Thursday at 5 p.m. and return to BRC action with a doubleheader at home against Rice Lake (4-4, 8-5) Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The Cats' best chance for a victory last week came in the first game of the Pepin Tournament against Durand. Hayley Heschke, Masy Engel, Lauren Cernohous and Caitlyn Ahlborn drove in two runs apiece but Durand got the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh to escape with a 9-8 win.

Heschke and Engel had three hits each, including a double apiece, while Ahlborn doubled and singled. Bethany O'Leary and Erin Temme also had two hits each in the loss.

"That was a tough game to lose," head coach Rick Hansen said. "We may have taken that game for granted.

"Hayley Heschke and Masy Engel had great days hitting and are really coming along," he added. "We need more hitters in our lineup to be more consistent getting on base."

The Cats had to turn right around and face Chippewa Falls McDonnell in the next game and Hansen said they "had no get up and go" in a 10-0 loss.

The Cats started the week by dropping a doubleheader at home to Eau Claire Memorial, 8-0 and 8-2.

"That was a tough night to evaluate," Hansen said. "Memorial didn't necessarily sting the ball against us, but we didn't really hit too well either. We walked way too many batters and gave up extra bases on errors in untimely situations."

The Cats were also hurt by the bat of Memorial's Tess Fadness, one of the best hitters in the BRC. Fadness had four hits in the two games, including a two-run homer in the opener and a double and triple in the nightcap.

"When Tess Fadness comes up with runners on base, it's all a matter of time before she capitalizes," Hansen said.

Engel had three of the Wildcats' six hits in the first game while Pam Obermueller reached on a single, walk and scored both Wildcat runs in the nightcap.

Hansen said the Cats played better at Menomonie Thursday.

"We played two pretty good games," he said. "The second game was 5-3 going into the sixth and they strung a bunch of base hits together to score six runs that inning."

Heschke walked and later scored on an error for the Cats' only run in the first game. Engel and Ahlborn had two hits and an RBI each and O'Leary and McKel Heebink drove in a run apiece in the nightcap.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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