Softball Broncos earn MAC championship
May 10, 2003
AKRON, Ohio -- Western Michigan University's softball team defeated No. 6 seed Miami, 4-0, this afternoon (May 10) at Firestone Stadium in Akron to claim the program's first Mid-American Conference Tournament championship since 1984.
With their first championship in 19 years, the Broncos also earned the league's automatic berth in the newly expanded 64-team NCAA Tournament and will meet a first-round opponent to be announced Sunday night. The Broncos last advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1982.
Entering the MAC tournament as the No. 2 seed, the Broncos dominated, winning all three games they played in the double-elimination series. WMU defeated Miami twice, 2-1 and 4-0, and top-seeded Marshall, 7-5. The Broncos' season record improved to 30-22.
"I couldn't be happier," said head coach Kathy Leitke. "We started the season with a mission and our kids worked hard on a daily basis to accomplish our goals."
Junior Laura Stewart of Plymouth, Mich., pitched all three tournament games for the Broncos, was the only unbeaten pitcher in the tournament, and gave up only four hits in the series finale shutout. She was named to the all-tournament team along with teammates Angie Fiero, a junior from Rives Junction, Mich., playing shortstop; Erin Malloch, a senior left fielder from Tualitan, Ore.; Marie McCarthy, a senior from Lansing, Mich., playing third base; and Stefanie Scheumann, a junior catcher from Auburn, Ind. Malloch earned a spot on the all-tournament squad for the second straight season.
Stewart, who was 10-1 in league contests during the regular season, was named earlier in the week to the All-MAC First Team, along with junior Jaymie Voss. Fiero and senior Gina Dobbs received second-team honors.
In the fourth inning of the MAC Tournament final, with WMU leading 1-0, Amy Fleming launched a one-out pitch just over the fence in right field, and following a base hit by Scheumann, Malloch blasted a two-run homer well over the fence in left for the 4-0 final score. The Broncos hit seven home runs in their three-game series, accounting for nearly one-third of the 22 total home runs in the tournament.
Earlier this year, WMU won the MAC championship in women's basketball--the first for that program since 1985. The last time WMU had multiple conference champions in the same school year was 2000-01, when the women's tennis and volleyball teams both won MAC titles.
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