Senior pitcher gets off to a sensational start

BGSU softball hurler Liz Vrabel is beginning her fourth and final season differently than her previous three on the Falcon squad.

At this point last season, Vrabel started off slow with a 4-6 record before ending the season with a 17-13 record. Her teammates hope her strong start this season will propel the team to a good home debut on Friday in a doubleheader against Detroit, as well as conference play that begins at the end of the month.

“She’s been amazing and one of the main reasons why we’ve been so successful this year,” said teammate Jeanine Baca. “She’s a big part of the team and we all follow her. If she’s having a great day, we’re having a great day.”

Vrabel, or Flaps as her teammates call her because of her vocal leadership, notched her eighth win of the season over the weekend at the USF Speedline Invitational, the 57th victory of her career.

“You can see it in our eyes out there that we’re playing for each other,” Vrabel said. “Everything wouldn’t be as good as it is without all 17 girls, three coaches and our trainer and our team wouldn’t be so successful if it weren’t for every single person putting in a 100 percent effort into it.”

Vrabel was also named the Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Week after posting a 3-0, striking out 23 batters while having a 0.40 earned run average (ERA) in just 17 and two-thirds innings last weekend in the sunshine state.

In 62 and two-thirds innings of work this season, Vrabel has already fanned 79 hitters, which defensively can bring mixed feelings from her teammates due to the lack of action.

“Liz is more of strikeout pitcher, so when she pitches it gets kind of boring out there because she strikes out so many people,” said teammate Gina Rango. “But she’s got amazing composure and she always come through when under a lot of pressure.”

Vrabel ranks first in BGSU softball history in strikeouts with 654 after she passed former Falcon softball hurler Jennifer Wolf last season against Ohio State University and entered this season ranked third all time in wins (49) and ERA (1.46) and fourth all time in shutouts (18) and innings pitched (567).

If Vrabel were to win 20 out of the Falcon’s remaining 30 games, she would finish her career tied for No. 1 all time in MAC history with Central Michigan’s Tina Kinney and Ball State’s Bernie Coffman career record 77 wins.

“I think it’s an honor all the awards that I’ve earned, but at the same time I don’t really look at my statistics, I don’t really know what my ERA is,” Vrabel said. “The only statistic that really matters is if we’re winning or not. My personal success was developed because of my teammates.”

Vrabel’s father was a former collegiate baseball player at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, and she believes she has inherited most of her athletic prowess from him.

“I never really got a chance to watch my dad play, but my mom wasn’t involved in athletics, so I’m assuming I got it from him,” Vrabel said. “I’m very thankful God has given me this ability and I’m very thankful I’ve been able to use it.”

Vrabel and the Falcons will play their first home game all season on Saturday against Detroit.

“We’re all really excited to finally be home on our ground,” Vrabel said. “We’re comfortable with it and used to it, so we’re excited because we want to attract a lot of fans and everything because we’re going to be awesome this year.”