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Courtesy: Jamie Hines Photo

WMU Softball Holds On for MAC Opening Win

Courtesy: Mat Kanan, director of athletic media relations
Release: 03/31/2012
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Western Michigan softball held off Miami for a 3-2 win in its home and Mid-American Conference season opener Saturday at Fran Ebert Field.

Heading into the bottom of the seventh with a 3-0 lead, the Broncos surrendered back-to-back doubles to left center field to see their lead shrink to one run with one out.  Determined to learn from the Notre Dame game on March 27, Meredith Whitney and the rest of the team secured the final two outs to capture their first win of the conference season.

Whitney, who struck out nine batters and now has 577 for her career, was in control early in the circle, striking out two batters in each of the first three defensive innings for WMU.  She also set the tone early for the Bronco offense, smacking a lead off home run over the left center field wall for her second of the season and 16th of her career.

That would be the game's offense until the bottom of the fifth.  Whitney singled up the middle to lead off the frame and advanced to second on Elisha Handshoe's sac bunt.  Facing two outs after a Courtney Rousseau strike out, WMU's Tara Buchanan stepped to the plate and belted the first pitch of the at bat over the left field wall to give WMU a 3-0 lead. 

It was Buchanan's third of the season and 11th of her career, which ties Amanda Heckaman for fourth on the career list at WMU.  Whitney's 16 career home runs ranks second alone.

In between Bronco home runs, WMU's defense held the RedHawks at bay, most notably from center field.  Jennifer Tschetter had four put outs and one assist in the field on Saturday.  She was personally responsible for all three outs in the fourth inning.

After a lead off single by Kirstie Fehrenbach, Jordan McElroy sent a ball to short center field.  Charging, Tschetter made the catch and instinctively through to Buchanan at first base, doubling up Fehrenbach.  The Scottsdale, Ariz., native made the final out of the inning as well, squeezing a routine fly ball off the bat of Daniela Torres.

Whitney finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and her 75th career RBI, ranking fourth at WMU.  Buchanan was 1-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs.  Handshoe, Tschetter, Diana Patterson and Christina Pigozzi also collected hits for WMU in the victory.

Western Michigan looks for its first season series sweep of Miami since April 7, 2006 when the Broncos take the field against the RedHawks Sunday at 1 p.m.