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Falcon softball gains ground in WIAC

April 16, 2009

After losing four straight games to division powerhouses UW-Eau Claire and UW-Whitewater, the Falcon softball team seems to have righted the ship with a win over Bethel and two wins over UW-Stout.

“We felt like we needed to win over Stout” senior Mindy Rudiger said. “After losing the first four games of the conference season, it was important for us to get back on track.” The two games before Stout were at non-conference opponent Bethel. In the first game, Bethel scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning to lead 3-1.

UWRF scored a run in the top of the third thanks to an RBI single by Rudiger. The Falcons took the lead in the fifth, when Dana Book drove in two runs with a triple. After that hit, the Falcons controlled the rest of the game, winning 6-4.

Jamie Klein gave up two earned runs over six innings to get the victory for UWRF. She also walked just one batter while striking out five.

In game two against Bethel, Bethel was able to score early and never looked back. Bethel scored one run in the first and third innings on RBI hits by juniors Lynnae Thompson and Lauren Habisch. The Royals increased their lead to 4-0 in the fifth on a two-run home run by Habisch.

The Falcons were able to scrape a run across in the top of the fifth before the homer by Habisch. However, it wasn’t enough as the Falcons lost the second game of the doubleheader, 4-1.  Over the weekend, UWRF played a doubleheader at home against Stout.

In the first game, the Falcons scored first, with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Patty Olson scored on a wild throw, while Sarah Fern delivered an RBI single.  UWRF added another run in the bottom of the third with an RBI single by Rudiger. Falcon starter Jamie Klein was able to keep the Blue Devils scoreless over three innings.

When the Falcons went to the bullpen, Heidi Emmer came to complete the game giving up two runs, but still able to save the win for UWRF 3-2. In the final game of the double header, UWRF was once again able to score early and often. Sarah Fern got the scoring starting in the first inning, driving in two runs with an RBI single. Fern delivered another RBI single in the bottom of the third.

UWRF was able to add more runs in the fourth and fifth innings, winning the game after five innings 8-0. Klein pitched a complete game shutout for the Falcons, walking two and striking out three.

“Getting a sweep of Stout was really great for us,” Falcon Head Coach Jody Gabriel said. With the victories over Stout, the Falcons moved to fifth in the WIAC standings.

Gabriel talked about the difficulty of the conference in an e-mail interview. “We play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation and every team shows up to play so we have to be at the top of our game for every conference game,” she said. With 11 freshmen on the roster, this is a different Falcon team than in the past. The senior leaders and the coaching staff spend more time teaching the game and the way Falcons play softball.

One of the necessary improvements for this team to excel, according to Rudiger, is to make fewer errors in the field.

“Both team wise and personally, we need to learn how to play good defense without making too many errors, which gives our opponents extra outs for them to work with,” Rudiger said. The Falcons play next at UW-Platteville April 18 and at UW-La Crosse on April 19.