May 15, 2011 | WMU News
AKRON, Ohio--The Western Michigan University 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.
Bronco junior Meredith Whitney was named MAC Tournament MVP after throwing three complete-game victories Sunday.
This is the second MAC Tournament championship for head coach Kathy Leitke and fourth tournament title in program history. The Broncos join Bowling Green and Central Michigan as the only tournament champions to come from the consolation bracket. Western Michigan dropped to the consolation bracket in the double-elimination tournament after an 8-3 loss to Ohio Saturday.
The Broncos headed into the day needing three wins and a dominant performance from their star pitcher, Whitney, and they got both. The right-hander threw every pitch on Sunday, 281 in all. She threw 615 pitches for the tournament, with 355 of those landing in the strike zone.
Whitney wasn't just dominant in the circle, she helped her own cause offensively with her third lead-off home run of the season to open the championship game. That sparked a five-run first inning for WMU.
MAC Player of the Year 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 Kayla Houston and Courtney Rousseau on the MAC All-Tournament Team.
Barstad and Houston each hit over .500 for the tournament, with .586 and .529, respectively. Rousseau led the team with nine RBIs, 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, striking out 26 with a 2.29 ERA and finishing with a record of 5-1. Opposing batters hit a miniscule .180 against her.
WMU began the day with a 9-0 win over Central Michigan, then downed Ohio twice, 4-3 and 7-4, for the come-from-behind championship.
NCAA Softball Tournament
WMU dropped decisions to Michigan, 5-0, and Notre Dame, 4-0, in the double-elimination NCAA Regional Tournament at Ann Arbor May 20-21. The Broncos finished with a 25-30 record after beginning the season 0-10. More at wmubroncos.com.