Young softball players make instant impact

It’s very rare in collegiate athletics that a team gets worthwhile contributions from their freshman and sophomore players. Fortunately for the BGSU softball team, this trend does not hold true.

The Falcons have six freshman and three sophomore players on their roster and each are beginning to find their niche. They have played a key part in the Falcons’ success so far this season.

Freshman pitcher Hayley Wiemer has been a double-threat for Falcons in the circle and at the plate so far this season. Wiemer is batting .323 this season, which is second best to senior third basemen and reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, Gina Rango. Wiemer ranks second on team in on base percentage and is tied for third in hits with sophomore Allison Vallas.

“Hayley gives everything she can all the time and wants to continue to improve, so her potential is limitless,” Ross said. “Hayley is not yet completely showing her power at the plate. She is successful, but is still working on some things with her swing and when she pulls all that together I think people will really be surprised.”

However, Weimer’s success doesn’t end at the plate. In the circle, she is 7-9 this season with a 1.56 earned run average and has four saves for the Falcons. Opponents are batting a pedestrian .213 against her, and she has struck out 105 batters in 125 and one-third innings pitched this season. She ranks second on the team in total appearances this season with 29.

“Hayley has always thrown hard and could take care of most high school batters by sheer force,” Ross said. “Hayley has fine tuned two new pitches and does a great of hitting her spots which has enabled her to be successful in college.”

Weimer’s teammate and fellow freshman Desiree Miller has also stepped up big in her first year for the Falcons. Miller ranks second on the team in RBI with 23 and is tied for second in homeruns with three with junior Ashley Zirkle. She also is third on the team with a .303 batting average.

Freshman Wendy Sheehan and sophomores Dawnjene DeLong, Allison Vallas and Emily Gouge have also been valuable assets for Ross and the Falcons this season.

DeLong has been hitting in the leadoff spot for the Falcons for the majority of the season, a spot that she has embraced the challenge of.

“Whether it be getting hit by a pitch, walking or doing my best to get a hit to start off the game, I like the challenge of being a leadoff batter,” DeLong said. “When coach put me there I was excited and ready to do whatever I could to help our team succeed.”

All Gouge has done so far this season is go 7-0 in ten starts with a 1.51 ERA and has fanned 44 batters in 55 and two-thirds innings pitched. Ross believes having young pitchers like Gouge and Wiemer step up at such a young age has the team headed in the right direction for the future.

“It definitely makes me feel comfortable knowing I have them for two and three more years,” Ross said. “They are gaining great experience right now so they will be able to lead the team in the future.”

Ross and the Falcons wrapped up six game homestand on Sunday in which the team went 4-2 and they will head to Chicago tomorrow for an out-of-conference doubleheader against the Blue Demons from DePaul, who currently own a 24-15 record this season. First pitch for game one of the doubleheader is set for 3 p.m. at DePaul’s Cacciatore Stadium.