UWRF softball remains undefeated at home with doubleheader win
The Falcons softball team continued its home-field advantage in 2017, taking down Martin Luther College 9-1 and 13-3 on Thursday to stay undefeated at home this season.
UW-River Falls has won all four of its games in River Falls this year, with the doubleheader on Thursday bringing the most lopsided wins of the year.
UWRF started the day off slow, with the game staying scoreless through the first two and a half innings. Sophomore pitcher Payton Speckel was on fire, delivering a ridiculous eight strikeouts in her first nine batters faced. She would finish with 14 strikeouts between the two games.
“Her pitches were on point and [Martin Luther] couldn’t read them. Hopefully she can carry that into the games this week because we all have confidence in her,” junior right-fielder Shannan Borchardt said.
The Falcons’ bats started firing in the bottom of the third, with five quick runs being put on the board. Ali Krohn added two RBIs in the third to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Martin Luther added one unearned run off an error in the fourth, but that would be the last time they put points on the board in game one. UWRF tacked on one more run in the fourth, and blew the game open on Mady Bunnell’s two-run home run in the fifth. Kaia Dorn brought home Borchardt in the bottom of the fifth to clinch game one and impose the mercy rule at 9-1.
“They love playing at home, because so many things come into play. They’re a lot more excited with having family and friends at the game, and they’re so much calmer and relaxed. It’s definitely a different team with music and walk up songs and a different mood,” Head Coach Amber Dohlman said.
But even with a dominant win in the first game, coming back focused for the doubleheader has been a challenge for the Falcons all season long.
“It’s hard [coming back right away], but Coach said she wanted us to come out right away and get locked in and get those bats going. That changes the tone as a whole,” Borchardt said.
The Falcons seemed to take the advice to heart, scoring six runs in the first inning and working their way through the order to bring everyone around. The lead only grew in the second inning after a two-run double from Borchardt and a two-run homer from Maddie Studnicka. By the time the second inning was over, UWRF was up 10-0 in the blink of an eye.
“They’re all swinging and competing. The same person doesn’t always have to produce, and anyone one through nine can drive in runs. We’ve been focusing on quality at bats and it takes pressure off people,” Dohlman said.
After avoiding the early inning struggles that have plagued the team, they faced another challenge in the third inning. Audrey Trimm crushed a three-run home run to left center for Martin Luther to bring the game to 10-3.
“They got two girls on base on bloopers, but we came back [after the home run] and stayed focused. It was 10-3 at one point, but we came back and got more runs and it didn’t really faze anybody,” Borchardt said.
This growth in handling adversity will be important for UWRF moving forward. With the season starting to wind down, the team seems to be improving every week.
“You have to go out and compete, because nothing is guaranteed. The bats are alive right now, and the pitching is starting to get better and we’re starting to get into a groove. Success is happening, and hopefully that’s contagious,” Dohlman said.
Borchardt and Krohn had huge days at the plate for the Falcons. Krohn was 6-7 with four runs and four RBIs, while Borchardt added six RBIs and three runs in the second game alone.
The Falcons now set their focus on a busy week of action. They host UW-Stout on Wednesday before traveling to University of Northwestern on Thursday, UW-Platteville on Saturday and UW-La Crosse on Sunday. Playing these eight games in four days will be one of the most crucial stretches of softball in the team’s season.
“Hopefully they go into conference this weekend and can pull out sweeps of Stout and Platteville and pull off another win somewhere. I’d be really happy with three of four [wins]. Realistically, we’re fighting for the five spot [in the WIAC playoffs],” Dohlman said.
UWRF will look to sweep the teams below them in conference and split with the stronger teams to maintain a strong finish in WIAC play. The Falcons currently sit at 2-2 in conference and 10-15 overall. They will look to maintain their current pace on their six-game road trip this week.