Story Courtesy of WMU Media Relations
AKRON, OHIO -- The Western Michigan softball team captured the 2011 Mid-American Conference Tournament Title for the first time since 2003 and claimed the regular season and tournament titles in the same season for the first time in program history. Meredith Whitney was named MAC Tournament MVP after throwing three complete-game victories and 281 pitches.
This is the second MAC Tournament championship for head coach Kathy Leitke and fourth tournament title in program history for Western Michigan. It marked the first time WMU has ever come from the consolation bracket to win the tournament in program history as well. The last time it happened was 2004 when Bowling Green took two from Miami. WMU joins the Falcons and Central Michigan as the only three programs to accomplish the feat.
The Broncos headed into the day needing three wins and a dominant performance from its star pitcher, and it got both. The junior right hander threw every pitch on Sunday, 281 in all, en route to throwing 615 pitches for the tournament, with 355 of those landing in the strike zone.
She wasn't just dominant in the circle, she helped her own cause offensively, namely with her third lead-off home run of the season to open the championship game. That sparked a five-run first inning for WMU, which outscored its opponents 20-7 on the final day of the tournament. That five-run lead would be the difference as Ohio scored four runs throughout the game.
Myranda McDonald added a pinch-hit RBI in the third and Courtney Rousseau scored an unearned run in the seventh to cap the scoring and ice the championship for the Broncos.
The WMU offense helped Whitney out in the opening game of the championship series, evening the score at one run apiece in the bottom of the second on Kayla Houston's ground rule double. Rousseau doubled in the third inning to plate a run and Houston followed with an RBI-single to score another.
Gracie Barstad accounted for what was ultimately the winning run with a home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Barstad and Whitney were joined by Houston and Rousseau on the MAC All-Tournament Team.
Barstad and Houston each hit over .500 for the tournament, hitting .586 and .529, respectively. Rousseau led the team with led the team with nine RBIs with seven of those coming on two home runs. WMU hit eight home runs during the tournament to go along with six doubles for 14 extra-base hits.
Whitney worked 33.2 innings in the circle, striking out 26 with a 2.29 ERA and finishing with a record of 5-1. Opposing batters hit a miniscule .180 with her in the circle.
The Broncos will find out where they will go and who they will play in the 2010 NCAA Softball Tournament Sunday night at 10 p.m. when the selection show airs live on ESPNU.
011 MAC Softball All-Tournament Team
Abbey Ledford, Kent State
Amanda Montalto, Ball State
Megan Mawn, Miami
Molly Coldren, Central Michigan
Jillian Van Wagnen, Ohio
Emily Wethington, Ohio
Courtney Rousseau, Western Michigan
Kayla Houston, Western Michigan
Gracie Barstad, Western Michigan
MVP - Meredith Whitney, Western Michigan