Warhawk Almanac: 2008 Softball Team’s Remarkable Run

Written by Jacob Ober

In 2008, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks softball team made their longest postseason run since 1987 by advancing to the NCAA Division III World Series. This would mark the 13th overall appearance for the Warhawks softball team in the NCAA Division III tournament.[1] The Warhawks defeated defending national champion DePauw University in back-to-back games with final scores of 2-1 and 6-2 in the regional round, moving them forward to the championship round. Head Coach Brenda Volk said, “This team is amazing…There is not just one individual that we rely on. It seems like every game someone different steps us with a big hit or a big play. Every single person on the field and in the dugout has contributed to our success this year and it is a great feeling.”[2]

Photo of promotional shot of Warhawk softball players for 2008 NCAA Division III tournament
Promotional picture for the 2008 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament, featuring two UW-Whitewater Warhawk players.[3]

At the start of the championship round, the Warhawks would lose 5-4 to New York-Cortland before notching four straight wins to earn a spot in the World Series Title Game.[4] The Warhawks advanced thanks to a 2-1 victory over Louisiana College, the number one-seeded team in the tournament. They were led by a stellar performance from starting pitcher Jessica Stang, co-winner of the 2008 WIAC Pitcher of the Year Award, who went the full 7 innings and only allowed one run on seven hits. After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the 6th inning and down to their final three outs, the Warhawks roared back in the top of the 7th and took a 2-1 lead thanks to a 2-run home run by right fielder Suzanne Gersich, her 12th of the year.[5]  In securing the victory, the Warhawks earned their spot in the World Series Title Game.

Photo of 2008 softball team posing with 2nd place trophy
UW-Whitewater 2008 softball team posing for a team photo with the NCAA Division III Runner-Up Trophy.[6]

Unfortunately, the Warhawks’ remarkable run would end in the final game, where they lost to UW-Eau Claire 4-3 in extra innings. Despite getting out to a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning on a home run by Gersich, UW-Eau Claire would strike back to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 9th, UW-Eau Claire slugger Jill Janke hit a 1-1 pitch over the fence for a walk-off home run, ending the Warhawks’ season in heartbreaking fashion.[7] However, the 2008 Warhawks softball team would be a team to remember, as they set numerous school records, including most runs scored in a season (319), most home runs (68), most RBIs (275), most total bases (751), and most strikeouts (337) and strikeouts per game (6.74).[8] Individually, center fielder Amy Gahl set a record for most hits in a season (70), a record that would stand for almost a decade before being broken by Mallory Klotz in 2017, who recorded 71 hits.[9]

Members of the 2008 softball team posing with trophy
UW-Whitewater softball players hold the NCAA Division III National Runner-Up Trophy.[10]

The Warhawks would return to the NCAA Division III Championship in 2014, although they failed to qualify for the World Series Title Game. No Warhawk softball team has made it to the World Series game since the record-breaking 2008 team.  

[1] Mike Daly, “Warhawks eliminate No. 1 team to advance to final 8,” The Royal Purple, May 14, 2008.

[2] Sara Kuhl, “Quest for national championship titles continues for softball, baseball team,” University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletics, May 12, 2008, https://www.uww.edu/news/archive/2008-05-softball-baseball-playoffs.

[3] “Warhawks Earn Spot in World Series Title Game,” University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletics, May 19, 2008, https://uwwsports.com/news/2008/5/19/softball_05192008_louisiana.aspx.

[4] “2008 Softball Schedule,” University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletics, https://uwwsports.com/sports/softball/schedule/2008.

[5] “Warhawks Earn Spot in World Series Title Game,” University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletics, May 19, 2008, https://uwwsports.com/news/2008/5/19/softball_05192008_louisiana.aspx.

[6]“Warhawks Finish Second in NCAA Division III Tournament,” University of Wisconsin Whitewater Athletics, May 19th, 2008, https://uwwsports.com/news/2008/5/19/softball_05192008_eauclaire.aspx.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Softball Season Records,” University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletics, https://uwwsports.com/sports/2024/5/2/softball-season-records.aspx.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “2007-08 athletics year in review,” The Royal Purple, August 27, 2008.

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