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Falcon softball starts season at Rebel Games in Florida

March 11, 2010

The Falcon softball team starts its season on March 14, with two games. The games are not played in the Midwest, but instead 1,500 miles away in Kissimmee, Fla.

The Falcons start the season playing the Rebel Spring Games, a collection of games being played to give teams from across the country a warm-up to the regular season.

According to the Rebel Games Web site, the games are played at three different areas in Kissimmee: The Osceola County Complex, the Fortune Road Athletic Complex and Oren Brown Park.

Falcon outfielder Dana Book said the games are a good way to help the team prepare for the regular season.

“It’s good practice to get ready for the season,” Book said. “Our conference is a tough conference, so it is a great experience to come together as a team before our conference games.”

According to the Rebel Games Web site, there are 65 teams in Div. III softball competing in the games, including UW-River Falls.

The reason the team starts their season in Florida is to get an early start to a season that is otherwise difficult in the climate of Wisconsin, said head coach Jody Gabriel.

“In Wisconsin it is very difficult to get 40 games scheduled by the first week in May with the weather we have, so we are forced to go south to begin our season,” said Gabriel.

The Falcons will play 10 games over the course of the games in the span of six days. Gabriel said that there are a lot of tough match-ups that the team is scheduled to play.

“One of the biggest [games] is on the first day [against] Illinois Wesleyan,” she said. “They have been picked to win their conference for a third straight season and have been to postseason play the last three years.”

According to the NCAA Web site, Illinois Wesleyan is ranked no. 12 in the nation in the preseason poll.

Players also said the travel and games are good for the team to get together and become more comfortable as a team.

“It allows us to see how each of us plays, help us know the boundaries to be able to push each other and a good team bonding experience,” Book said.

The games are also good for helping the team learn the pieces to the puzzle the team needs.

“We are able to experiment more into who plays where,” said Book. “We’re a very versatile team, making the options endless to who plays where, so it’s a great opportunity to be able to try girls at different positions before we take on our conference.”

The Falcons will play Millikin University in the first game March 14, followed by Illinois Wesleyan.

The other schools that the Falcons will play in the games includes Endicott college, Fontbonne University, Simpson College, Transylvania University, Nichols College, Springfield College, Framingham State College and Ramapo College of New Jersey.

After the games in Florida, the Falcons play in the Augastana tournament March 27-28. Their first conference game is April 8 against UW-Eau Claire.