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Falcons softball splits weekend series against Whitewater and Platteville

Amber Galloway (17) and Ali Krohn celebrate in the outfield against UW-Stout last season. The Falcons are 18-10 this season and 3-5 in WIAC play.

April 25, 2018

The UW-River Falls softball team was finally able to get back on the field this past weekend, splitting two series against UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville to open up WIAC play.

Weather has thrown the Falcons softball season into disarray, but the team was finally able to play their first two series of WIAC action in Platteville.

“It’s good to be back on dirt and play on a real field,” Head Coach Amber Dohlman said. “Driving to Platteville wasn’t our favorite thing to do, but we had to break it up a little bit to try not to play 14 games in a week.”

The Falcons were originally slated to host UW-Whitewater in River Falls, but multiple rescheduled dates led to the team playing the Warhawks in Platteville on Saturday before facing the Pioneers on Sunday.

UW-Whitewater had already played eight conference games before the Falcons, sitting at 8-0 in WIAC play. Dohlman said there’s always an adjustment to actually playing outside and getting proper spacing again.

“It takes some time for them to get going, but once they get things figured out they get settled in, they can go to town,” Dohlman said.

The Falcons got off to a slow start in game one but bounced back by scoring runs in the third and fifth innings to take a 4-3 lead. Molly Kasper and Maddie Studnicka each drove in two runs after UWRF was trailing 4-0.

“In the game against Whitewater, they come out ready to battle and were gritty,” Dohlman said. “There’s a lot of excitement at the end (after the win) and strong momentum, but then we have this 20-minute break. Holding that momentum into game two is the thing we struggled with.”

Game two was a different story, as the Warhawks put up six runs in the first two innings to pave the way towards a 10-2 victory. The Falcons only managed six hits in the game while committing a costly four errors.

Senior Amber Galloway had never been on a team that had beaten Whitewater, and said it was incredible to show they can beat any team in the WIAC on any given day. However, she said they need to avoid splitting series so often.

“We get too relaxed (after game one), and we have to find that fight to win both,” Galloway said.

The team came out slowly the next day against Platteville, but unlike against UW-Whitewater, there was no comeback in game one. The Pioneers scored 10 runs on 18 hits, while the Falcons only managed seven hits and two runs. The 10-2 loss was only pitcher Hannah Stegeman’s third loss of the season (7-3).

Galloway said it was obvious right away on Sunday that they would have a difficult time in game one.

“Definitely you can tell from our warm up,” Galloway said. “Right then and there I could see we weren’t there to play.”

Unlike the last three splits in which the Falcons won game one, UWRF responded well in a hard-fought game two. UWRF only managed three hits but scored crucial runs in the fifth and sixth innings to prevail 2-1. The biggest moment came in the fifth when Shannan Borchardt got on base with a single before Galloway brought her all the way home with an RBI double to tie the game at 1-1.

“When Shannan gets on, it’s more of a fire in me to hit her home,” Galloway said. “I knew I was going to get a hit and it didn’t matter what. She did a great job scoring from first and reading it really well.”

The 2-1 victory was also the Falcons fourth-straight win that came by only a single run.

“Against Platteville we came out flat and had an error in the first inning, and it spiraled from there,” Dohlman said. “We came back in game two and had our backs against the wall. They’re fighters and they’re scrappy; putting themselves in pressure situations and proving themselves is what they’re really good at.”

Dohlman said the team especially struggled with working against Platteville’s changeup, which will lead to some teachable moments about pitching. The Falcons struggled with hitting for one of the first times this season, which has mainly been their strong suit in close games.

“Coach Dohlman told us to step in the box like we own it and take our hacks,” Galloway said. “We worked the pitcher instead or her working us in game two, and Payton (Speckel) pitched a really great game.”

Wins against strong teams like Whitewater or bouncing back for wins like Platteville are what Galloway said are the most memorable events from a season. However, they still need to become more consistent by coming to play every game.

“It’s about adjusting during the game and not between the games – that’s something that our coach preaches a lot,” Galloway said.

The team may have only gone 2-2 over the weekend, but the win over Whitewater is “huge regionally and in conference,” Dohlman said. She said that the momentum from that win will be important going forward, because they now begin playing WIAC teams that were swept by the Warhawks. The top five teams from the eight-member WIAC make the postseason tournament, and there is still a lot to be decided.

“We have to go out and get some sweeps into our win column,” Dohlman said. “We have to set ourselves up and hope some teams have their toughest competition ahead of them, because now we’re playing the middle of the pack.”

The Falcons will host their only three home doubleheaders this week with games against UW-La Crosse on Saturday, UW-Stevens Point on Sunday and UW-Eau Claire on Tuesday. First pitch for all three doubleheaders will be at 2 p.m.

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