This season the UW-River Falls women’s softball team is aiming to do something both unprecedented in school history, and WIAC history: win a third consecutive conference title.
Five teams have won two consecutive titles, including the 2011 and 2012 UWRF team, as well as the 1993 and 1994 teams.
This year’s squad returns six of their nine starters from a year ago, which will be a strong point on the team.
“Hayley Buchanan is back and was First-team All-American, and so is Ashley Goettl who was All-WIAC,” said Head Coach Faye Perkins. Perkins is in her 19th year as head coach of the Falcons, and is second in WIAC history in wins with 418 at UWRF.
The only question marks on the team will be at the pitcher and catcher positions.
Rose Tusa, who pitched over 200 innings of softball last season, according to Perkins, graduated after last season.
Sarah Bohlen was recruited as a pitcher but made the switch to third base last season.
Abbie Morris will look to be the top pitcher this season, with a combined 49 innings pitched of experience. Joining her will be Andrea Krause, a transfer from Ridgewater College, who has collegiate game experience along with Brooke Lauritzen a transfer from NCAA Div. II Tusculum College in Tennessee.
“The challenge will be finding out where they all fit the best,” Perkins said.
At catcher, Perkins said Amber O’Connell and Shawna Middleton could both see action. Perkins said that it will really come down to whoever is hitting the ball better.
Last season the Falcons finished the season ranked No. 15 in the country and came a game away from reaching the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, but lost to Luther College in the regional final by a score of 3-2.
However, the Falcons will get another shot at Luther during the regular season this year.
“We do play them this year when we go down to Florida,” Perkins said.
During their annual trip to Florida, the team will play 10 games over a span of five days.
They will play Luther College, currently ranked No. 3 in the country, and St. Thomas, currently ranked No. 18.
Despite beginning the season unranked themselves, the team has already begun the season with a bang. In the Finlandia Tournament, held on Feb. 23 and 24, the team notched a 3-1 record over the two days. Even more impressive was the combined 28 runs the team scored in those games. That in comparison to the eight runs given up over the weekend.
During the first four games the team had a batting average of .348 while holding opponents to a .207 batting average.
Even after a strong start, Perkins knows that no game will be handed to the team.
“It’s the old saying that anyone can win on any given day, especially in this conference. Most of the time the conference champion has around four or five losses,” Perkins said.
The Falcons will be in action at 12 p.m. on both Friday, March 1, and Thursday, March 7, against St. Scholastica and Augsburg College, respectively. Both games will be played at the Vadnais Heights Dome in Minnesota.