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Six softball seniors add leadership, vitality to team

May 1, 2008

  The UW-River Falls women’s softball team is led by a group of six seniors that have been providing leadership to younger players and bringing dynamic play on the field.

  “The seniors on the team have provided a lot of leadership,” interim head coach Jody Gabriel said. “They set the tone for the level of play, they help get things going everyday, they don’t need a lot of direction, they have high expectations and they’re good role models.”

  Emily Howlett, Brittany Rathbun, Amanda Peters, Ashley James, Ashley Bertrand and Keri Feller are this year’s seniors. Two years ago, there were no seniors on the team, according to the 2006 Falcon softball roster.

  Rathbun, one of the team’s pitchers, has taken to her leadership role on the team.

  “I’ve really enjoyed providing leadership to the younger players—they are a great group of girls,” Rathbun said. “I remember being a freshman—it’s a tough adjustment with the whole college thing in general. There were a couple of the seniors that really made me feel welcome and helped me to enjoy it. I told myself that I wanted to be that person when I am a senior. Now it’s my turn.”

  Peters, the team’s first baseman, has also taken time to mentor the younger players.

  “I spend time with especially the freshmen and I share with them my personal experiences playing,” Peters said. “College athletics are so much more competitive than in high school, so it is a big transition.”

  With the WIAC women’s softball tournament coming up May 2-3 at Steven’s Point, the Falcon seniors will be called upon to bring their A-game along with the rest of the team.

  “A good portion of our team knows what conference tournament is all about because we have played in it,” Rathbun said. “We know what to expect, and just practicing hard every day and learning from every game is what we need to do in order to be prepared.”

  Last year the team was 30-10 heading into the tournament and ended up finishing the season at 32-12 after the conference tournament, Gabriel said. The team has a chance to match last season’s regular record and improve their overall record.

  “If we win out we’ll be 30-[10]. We lost two games due to weather,” Gabriel said.

  The team started out the season on a hot streak, winning 21 of their first 22 games, according to the WIAC women’s softball Web site, but they have been in a bit of a slump in recent weeks with two shutout losses to UW- Whitewater April 21, and two more losses to UW-Eau Claire April 23.

  “[The season] has been a rollercoaster of emotions,” Rathbun said. “We began with a lot of success, which was expected with the amount of talent that we have on this team. Lately things haven’t gone our way, but if I know our team, I know that we will pull it together in time for the conference tournament.”

  Peters echoed Rathbun’s sentiment about preparing for the tournament. “We are taking all the conference games we have played and using them as learning experiences so that when we do go to the tournament, we are ready for each and every team,” Peters said.