Wolverines have eluded coach Ross

Since Leigh Ross became head coach in 1999, the BGSU softball squad has had a history of starting out below .500 in their first 25 games.

In the eight seasons of Ross’ tenure, the Falcons have only had a record above .500 three times after 25 games, including this season.

Their worst start came in 1999, Ross’ first season as head coach, when the team started off 7-18.

However, the year after that, the team made an amazing turnaround and began the year 17-8, which is what they currently stand at and is their best start since Ross took over.

In eight seasons as head coach, all Ross has done is become the winningest coach in school history, compiling a record of 217-183-2 (.540) and in 2004 led BGSU to their first Mid-American Conference tournament title in school history. She is also the fastest coach to reach 100 wins in BGSU softball history and the only coach to reach the mark of 200 wins.

Against Michigan however, Ross and the Falcons haven’t had the best of luck.

Since 2000, the Falcons have a record of 1-7 against the Wolverines from Ann Arbor and have been outscored 10-45 in those contests.

The lone win against Michigan came on March 25, 2003 when the Falcons upended the Wolverines, 3-1 in Bowling Green. Seniors Lindsay Heimrich, Liz Vrabel and Gina Rango are the only Falcons from that squad still currently playing for the Falcons.

“We were just so excited to beat them,” Rango said about the victory her freshman year. “People just looked at us like we were a MAC school and we couldn’t compete with teams that were in the elite eight or 10 in the nation.”

Through 26 games so far, the No. 12 ranked Wolverines stand with a record of 17-8 and like the Falcons before last weekend, have yet to play a home game.

Also, like the Falcons, Michigan has also been on a hot streak, winning six out of their last 10 games, most notably over No. 4 ranked Texas and No. 20 ranked Louisville, but fell to No. 15 Washington, who the Falcons beat 3-1 in the Compass Bank Invitational in Waco, Texas, earlier this season.

“I can’t wait,” said centerfielder Jeanine Baca about playing Michigan today. “I know we’re all really excited and we’ve been looking up stuff on Michigan and they actually lost to Washington, who we beat this year, so we know we can beat this team.”

The Falcons are likely to face All-American and 2005 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist Jennie Ritter, who is 9-4 and has a mind-boggling 159 strikeouts in just 95.1 innings pitched this season.

Last year against the Falcons, Ritter pitched just two innings and struck out the side in both innings. For her career against BGSU, Ritter has allowed two hits in seven and two-thirds innings of work and has fanned 13 Falcon hitters.

“We’re just going to go out there and play our game and whatever happens, happens,” Rango said. “We just have to go out there and stay within ourselves and stay disciplined. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”

Tommorrow the Falcons will head to South Bend, Ind. to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, who recently completed a two game sweep over Western Michigan, including a 5-0 victory in which senior Heather Booth and junior Kenya Fuemmeler pitched a combined no-hitter.

The last time the Falcons faced the Fighting Irish was March 28, 1999 when ND beat the Falcons 2-1 and 4-3 in a doubleheader in South Bend.

“We’ve never played Notre Dame since I’ve been here, but basically we just have to play Bowling Green softball no matter who we play,” Rango said. “Coach [Ross] has prepared us for these games and I know that our team is stacked one through nine.”

The game today against Michigan is at 4 p.m. at UM Alumni Field and the game tomorrow against Notre Dame is at 5 p.m. at Ivy Field in South Bend, Ind.

BGSU vs Michigan under Leigh Ross: 2005 – L 6-0 2004 – L 8-0, L 9-5 2003 – L 4-0, W 3-1 2002 – L 4-1 2001 – L 5-2 2000 – L 8-0