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Falcons split against MIAC teams

March 12, 2009

The UW-River Falls softball team is at a 2-2 record to begin the season, after winning two games against Augsburg College, but then losing two games to St. Thomas. All the games were held in the Rosemount Dome last week. Even though the record doesn’t show it, Head Coach Jody Gabriel said she was enthused by what she saw.

“I was impressed with our hitting, especially our power,” Gabriel said.

The Falcons hit six home runs over the four game span, three of them by senior shortstop Mindy Rudiger, including two in the season opener against Augsburg.

The Falcons got their scoring started early in their opener, putting three runs on the board in the second inning. Back-to-back singles by Patty Olson and Rosa Tusa put the Falcons with runners at first and second with only one out. After a sacrifice, Rudiger hit her first home run of the game, putting the Falcons up 3-0. Augsburg tied up the score in the bottom of the third, with three runs of their own, thanks in part to two Falcon errors.

With the score tied 3-3, Rudiger put the Falcons up for good with her second home run of the game, a solo home run in the top of the fourth.  The Falcons scored two more runs in the fifth and sixth, resulting in an 8-3 final.

In game two of the doubleheader, Augsburg jumped out to a 4-0 lead, scoring one in the first and three in the third, two of those runs on a home run by Kylee Persing. The Falcons were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a two-run home run by sophomore Dana Book.  A five-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth gave the Falcons the lead for good. Olson started with a single, and then Tusa reached on an error. After Rachel Mathias sacrificed them to second and third, Rudiger doubled to left center, scoring both runners. Lundgren kept the inning going with a single, followed by a three run home run by freshman Jamie Klein, her first of the year.  The Falcons won game two 10-4.

On March 5, the Falcons played a doubleheader with St. Thomas. In game one, a five-run third inning by St. Thomas helped lead them to a victory. The Falcons pitchers ended up walking four batters in that inning, capped off by a three run double by catcher Steph Moores.

In game two, the Falcons were held scoreless until the sixth, when they tied the game up at one on an RBI double by Klein. With the score tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, St. Thomas took the lead right back with a three run home run by Moores. The Tommies won the game 4-1.

Before the games against St. Thomas, Gabriel talked about leadership this season.

“Lack of college experience may be a problem this year, so we are definitely looking for leadership from our seniors,” Gabriel said.

Krista Friberg is a catcher for the Falcons, and even though she is not a senior, is showing leadership skills because of her position.

“We have eleven freshmen this year, so as a catcher, it is my job to control and settle down the defense,” Friberg said.

One of those freshmen would be Jamie Klein, who splits time between pitching and third base. She said that fitting in was difficult to begin with, but because the team chemistry is so good, everyone gets along. She also said she was not worried about playing time.

“At most schools, freshmen don’t play much,” Klein said. “That won’t be the case here, though, because we have so many freshmen.”

For that reason, Gabriel has to change up her practices a little bit.

“I spend a little bit more time teaching and directing the team how to play together well,” Gabriel said.

Klein said that this early in the season, practices don’t focus on any one specific area of the game.

“Every practice is different, we work on multiple aspects of the game at each practice, and then we try and put it all together for the games,” Klein said.

The Falcons will be in Florida for spring break this year, playing 10 games against teams from around the country.

Even though WIAC play doesn’t begin for another month, the team is already looking for ways to improve on their 8-8 record in WIAC play from last year.

Klein said that improvement will not be easy, as the WIAC is one of the toughest conferences.

“Improvement is going to be tough, but we have a lot of talent on the team,” Klein said.

“We just need to focus on the fundamentals, and play our game,” Friberg added.

All the players’ goals may be different, but they all share the same team goal, getting a banner, which signifies postseason play.

“Our team goal for this year is to get a banner hung from the rafters,” Gabriel said.

The Falcons first game in Florida will be March 15 vs. Illinois Wesleyan.