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Falcons softball team struggles in WIAC play

April 9, 2009

After winning seven out of 10 possible non-conference games in Florida over spring break, the UW-River Falls softball team has hit a wall, dropping four straight to begin conference play. Losing two games each to UW-Eau Claire and UW-Whitewater has left the Falcons last in the WIAC.

“It’s a very tough way to begin the conference season, playing the national champion and the runner up in back to back games,” senior shortstop Mindy Rudiger said.

On April 2, the Falcons played a doubleheader on the road at Eau Claire. In game one, the Blugolds got two in the second and one in the third to take an early 3-0 lead. The Falcons tied it with a Dana Book three-run home run in the top of the fourth. After a scoreless fifth inning, the Blugolds took the lead back with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth by freshman Jenny Janke. The Falcons failed to score in the top of the seventh, leading to a 4-3 victory for Eau Claire.

In game two, Eau Claire once again scored first with two runs in the third and three runs in the fourth thanks to RBI by Aleisha Harper and Bekki Kidnie. The Falcons were able to cut into the lead in the fifth thanks to a two-run single by Rudiger, and an RBI single by freshman Jamie Klein. Those three runs were the last runs to come across, as Eau Claire took the game 5-3.

“After facing Eau Claire, we really felt like we could compete on the same level as them,” Rudiger said.

On April 4, the Falcons played a doubleheader at home against Whitewater. In game one, the Falcons struggled to put any runs on the board against Warhawks’ sophomore Jessica Stang, as she pitched a two-hit shutout, walking one and striking out eight. Patty Olson and Rudiger were the only two Falcons who got hits against her. The Warhawks won the first game 10-0.

In game two, the Falcons put freshman Heidi Emmer on the mound looking for revenge for the game one blowout. After each team put a run across in the first inning, Whitewater took off, scoring five more runs over the next three innings to lead 6-1. In the fifth, senior Rachel Mathias scored on a wild pitch, and freshman Sarah Fern drove in a run with an RBI single, leaving the Falcons down 6-3. In the end, the Warhawks shut down the Falcons the next two innings winning the game 7-3.

“Losing is always tough, especially after playing well and bonding in Illinois and Florida,” Rudiger said.

With 11 freshmen on the team, the seniors feel like they need to show leadership on and off the field.

“We [the leaders] know that there is a leadership role and we need to spend some time talking to and teaching the freshmen how to play UWRF softball,” Rudiger said.

The Falcons attempted to turn their poor conference start around, but their game April 5 against UW-Oshkosh was postponed due to inclement weather. The Falcons return home with their next game 2 p.m. April 10 at Ramer Field, vs. UW-Stout.