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Softball coach returns after four years to lead UWRF

March 2, 2012

Faye Perkins returns to head coaching the defending Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) regular season and playoff champion Falcon softball team after four years off.

Perkins coached the Falcons for 19 years when in the summer of 2007 she was asked to step in as Interim Dean for one year with no time to coach, Perkins said.

“I’m glad to finally be back, it was supposed to be one year and it turned into four years,” said Perkins.

Chancellor Don Betz asked Perkins to step in as Interim Dean of College of Education and Professional Studies for one year. The provost then resigned the next year, thus Perkins moved up to Dean of College of Education and Professional Studies for one year. After two years of search and screen for a replacement, Larry Solberg was hired and Perkins is back to coaching.

Assistant Coach and UW-River Falls alumna Jody Gabriel stepped up as head coach during Perkins absence and received WIAC Coach of the Year in 2011. UWRF alumnae Pam Latterell and Ashley Bertrand helped Gabriel as assistant coaches, and will be assisting Perkins again this year. Gabriel is now the head coach at Macalester College.

The Falcons return this season with eight of ten starters back and gained four freshmen. Eleven players received numerous awards in the 2011 season, according to the UWRF website.

The Falcons are coming off their best season in school history as WIAC champions. The team hosted and went undefeated in the WIAC tournament last season with a 4-0 record.

According to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, the Falcons are ranked 21 in the Division III top 25 poll. Senior infielder Jamie Klein said the team is a group of very talented athletes all working hard towards the same goal: to win conference.

“Team cohesion is going to be a big thing like it was last year. We will always have to practice and play hard but being able to trust coaches and teammates I believe is one of the biggest contributors,” said Klein.

Perkins said the team has to continue to be committed to working hard to have the success like they did last year. “I expect nothing less than I always expect for the team, hunt for the conference championship, to move onto the NCAA Championship, that’s always the expectation,” said Perkins.

The Falcons have a strong core returning this year and the team’s annual spring break trip to Florida anticipates a strong schedule as they will be playing 10 games, said Perkins, as well as a strong season ahead.

Perkins explained that the competition of the WIAC is always tough. In the 2011 season, four out of the nine teams in the conference advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Senior pitcher Rose Tusa said last year’s success comes from the team’s hard work, dedication, all of the elements of the team working together and a great coaching staff.

“Every team in the WIAC will be after us and we need to know we are better and perform like we are better every pitch of every game,” Tusa said.

The team will be losing four seniors after this season, Tusa, Patty Olson, Klein and Jessie Bester. The team will have to continue to keep up the hard work to make up for these spots, as well as the four freshmen will have to step up.

“We have an excellent and fun team this year and the drive to win, and as long as we act on that I don’t have a doubt that we can win,” said Tusa.