Falcons rebound to win tourney

Liz Vrabel, senior, was named the Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Week yesterday as the BGSU softball team went 5-1 at the University of South Florida Speedline Invitational to win the tournament.

This is the first time this season that Vrabel has been given this tribute and the seventh time in her BG career.

Vrabel pitched a two-hit shutout against Fordham University. With just one walk and five strikeouts plus the Falcons’ offensive, they won the game 3-0.

“The wins this weekend really felt more like a total team effort – 17 players, three coaches and one trainer,” said BG coach Leigh Ross.

Vrabel completely agrees with Ross and said that every player puts 100 percent effort into every game they play.

Although the team played some great games in the tournament, they started out a little rocky in the first game. The Falcons hadn’t gotten into their groove against Troy University and lost 1-0. They then retaliated against Towson University with a winning score 10-0.

“The girls seemed to be pushing too hard offensively during the Troy game,” Ross said. “Our hitters weren’t relaxed at the plate and started to put too much pressure on themselves.”

The team met after the loss and talked about having fun on the field and relieving the stress of being too anxious at the plate, Ross added.

Vrabel said that after the defeat to Troy, the team had an optimistic outlook and tried to learn from the loss.

“No one enjoys losing a game. We picked each other up and kept a positive attitude and that was extremely important to set the tone for the following games,” Vrabel said.

Lauren Hoffman, junior, was certainly calm pinch-hitting at the plate in the Towson game and pummeled a two-run homerun. Teammate and pitcher Emily Gouge, sophomore, joined Hoffman in the spotlight and closed the game with a shutout.

After the win against Towson, the Falcons shutout the next three teams they played: Winthrop University (2-0), Purdue University (6-0) and then Fordham (3-0).

The Falcons pulled together as a team, not only in the four shutouts, but also in the close championship game against Florida International University. Both teams battled for control of the score in this intense game.

Teammates Jeanine Baca, junior, Dawnjene DeLong, sophomore, and Desiree Miller, freshman, each contributed two hits in the winning game. Miller also drove in two RBI’s to add to the Falcons’ score.

Vrabel got the win on relief and walked only one batter and struck out six. This was the second win on Sunday and her eighth of the season.

“Of course, it’s great for any pitcher to add a win to his or her record,” Vrabel said. “But it could not have been done without the other 16 girls putting in their best effort as well.”

The final score of the championship game was 5-4.

“Our biggest strength is our team chemistry,” Ross said. “We have so many different players that have been stepping up to lead this team in different ways.”

The Falcons showed how well they play together at the tournament as they continue to add to their winning record. Vrabel and her teammates rely on each other in every game and have confidence that each player is doing their best.

“The biggest strengths we have are our minds, attitudes and trust in each other. We are all playing for each other and I really saw that in our eyes this weekend,” Vrabel said.

The team will get to show their attitude and talent against Detroit on Saturday in a doubleheader. The Falcons (15-8) will host the Titans (2-8) and the first game is scheduled to begin at noon. With the positive morale of the team, the Falcons are confident they will play well as the season continues.

Ross added: “This team works hard every single day. They will not settle for anything less. They are playing hard and playing together.”