UWRF softball to start conference games after challenging pre-season experiences
April 6, 2016
The Falcons softball team may have gotten off to an inconsistent start, but they seem to be hitting their stride at the perfect time.
After an up and down start to the season and a successful Florida trip, the Falcons traveled to St. Kate's University to avenge an earlier 8-0 loss in the season opener. UWRF looked like an entirely different team in this meeting, stretching the undefeated Wildcats to 13 innings before they fell 7-6.
Sophomore outfielder Aiyana Ledwein said, “We had fantastic energy the whole game and the team was talking the entire time. We picked each other up and had the mentality of playing tough against one of the top teams in the country.”
The eighteenth ranked Wildcats were on UWRF's heels when sophomore Shannan Borchardt hit a two-run homer to put the Falcons up 6-4 in the top of the thirteenth inning. However, the Wildcats got two hits in the final inning to score three runs and snatch the victory from the Falcons.
First-year Head Coach Amber Dohlman was also impressed with her team’s effort. “We could tell they’re starting to buy in to what we’re teaching from the St. Kate's game. The team was starting to string hits together and Michelle LaCasse did a great job in throwing all thirteen innings.”
This strong effort comes off of a Florida trip that saw the Falcons play ten games in six days. The results were mixed, but the team definitely grew through the process.
“Being in Florida always brings the girls together because you spend so much time together as a group. We had a lot of learning moments in Florida, but everything up to now has been part of the process in getting ready for the conference games, which are the ones that really matter,” Dohlman said.
The Falcons hope to continue to improve as the season wears on. Ledwein said the team has “phenomenal defense,” but could “work on keeping their energy up in every inning."
UWRF now shifts their focus to WIAC play, where they begin the conference season by visiting UW-Oshkosh for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 9 and UW-Whitewater for a doubleheader the following day.
Ledwein said, “Oshkosh and Whitewater are two of the better teams in the WIAC, but coming off our performance against a strong team like St. Kate's makes people more excited than nervous. We know we can keep up with any team if we play hard and with focus.”
The Falcons definitely have confidence and belief going into conference play, but need to prove they can be a consistent team to be a threat to the top teams in the WIAC. Dohlman said she believes that a few simple steps can make that difference.
“Trying to get out on the dirt as much as possible is a big key since we’re only getting outside about once a week right now. But making adjustments and knowing the teams we’re playing a bit more will let us make practice a little more specific to the competition,” Dohlman said.
After playing teams they had never seen or barely heard of in Florida, the Falcons can return to their conference rivals they see year after year. Hopefully this experience can make the Falcons contenders in the upcoming weeks.
The Falcons return for their home opener on Wednesday, April 13 for a doubleheader against UW-Eau Claire. They will showcase their brand-new softball complex and try to bring a sense of energy that can put the team over the top.