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Tusa has solid first year

April 16, 2009

It has not taken Rose Tusa, freshman pitcher for the UW-River Falls softball game, long to adjust to the collegiate game.

The St. Anthony High School (Minn.) standout pitched most of her team’s games at the prep level, but now gets a day off here and there with the Falcons filled with a full pitching staff. “I’ve learned a lot,” the Roseville, Minn. native said.

“In high school I had to pitch almost every game for my team, so I knew that I was going to be out there a lot. Now I am on a team that has more pitchers and I get a rest every now and then.”

With rest, Tusa said she will be more effective toward the end of the season because her arm will not be worn down from the season. Tusa was an All-Conference, All-Section and All-State pitcher during her high school career for St. Anthony.

One of the most important events that took place this season for Tusa was UWRF’s road games in Florida during spring break, where the Falcons got the chance to get to know each other, especially for the freshmen.

“We spent a week just by ourselves,” Tusa said. “It was great for us. I have found out that teams spend a lot more time with each other in college sports. Our team eats together all the time and we did not do that too much in high school.

It’s great.” What Tusa said she has quickly learned is the WIAC has some of the best talent in the nation, with UW-Whitewater being a traditional powerhouse and 2008 national champions, UW-Eau Claire, in the conference as well.

“There is no doubt that the competition in this conference is better than the one I played in high school,” Tusa said. “I come from a smaller school where you play teams that might have a good player. Here, every team has players that were good in high school. Whitewater and Eau Claire are filled with a lot of great players and they were two of the better teams last year.”

Eau Claire is rated fourth in the nation and Whitewater holds down the No. 11 ranking in the national poll. “There is just no comparison to what my team faced in high school,” Tusa said. The Falcons started their WIAC season against Eau Claire and Whitewater and lost all four games. They swept UW-Stout 3-2 and 8-0 last weekend for their first conference wins of the season.

Despite the tough competition, Tusa has gotten her feet wet and has produced some stingy numbers. In 12 appearances this season she has 38 strikeouts, second on the team to Jamie Klein’s 56. She is also second in innings pitched, meaning she can be called on at any time for the Falcons. She has a 4-2 record, with the best overall winning percentage of any UWRF pitcher of .667.

Brittany Rathbun, current assistant coach and former pitcher for the Falcons last season, said Tusa has the ability to learn at a fast pace and has the drive to become one of the elite pitchers in the game. “Rose has many strengths, including her mental game, her ability to learn quickly,” she said. “Rose understands the game, the situations she faces and she knows what she is capable of.

As a freshman, this is hard to come by because the transition from high school softball to college softball is such a huge jump. Now you are facing a line-up that has the best of the best and Rose has done a nice job of understanding the mental part of the game.

She possesses a drive to be the very best day in and day out. She is constantly working on making herself better as an overall pitcher. She asks a lot of questions and works hard until she gets to where she needs to be.”

Rathbun has been by Tusa’s side all season and she said having a former player, who is right out of the college game, is a great fit for her. “Brittany has been so important to me,” Tusa said. “She understands what I am going through because she was in my position not that long ago.

She really knows what is going through our heads.” When asked what Tusa needs to work on when it comes to pitching, Rathbun said adding new pitches to Tusa’s arsenal. “We are simply working on developing a couple of new pitches,” Rathbun said.

“And perfecting the ones she already has. She has been so open to new ideas and is such a quick learner, which makes it easier for me to focus on fine tuning rather than the beginning mechanics.”