Returning to dominance

Last season the BGSU softball team finished just under .500 with a 29-30 record, yet third basemen Gina Rango and pitcher Liz Vrabel managed to capture Mid American Conference player and pitcher of the year.

With the team already surpassing its total wins from all of last season with a record of 30-18 and Rango and Vrabel both having incredible seasons so far, it seems like a no-brainer that the two senior players are likely to finish their careers winning those honors yet again.

Rango is batting .377 with 27 RBI and 55 hits, seven coming virtue of the long-ball.

“Gina has been undoubtedly one of the best players to come through Bowling Green and also to play in the MAC,” said BG coach Leigh Ross.

Not only does Rango rank first in just about every feasible offensive category for the Falcons, but she also ranks in the top five in the MAC in batting average, slugging percentage, RBI, hits, doubles, home run and total bases.

Perhaps the only player that could derail Rango from repeating this honor is Miami’s Halle Popson who, in 25 less at-bats than Rango, has similar numbers, scoring more runs and having higher on-base and slugging percentages.

“I’ve been concentrating more this season and have been trying to just hit every ball hard,” Rango said. “I’m just trying to play every game like it’s my last and go out with a bang.”

In the circle last season, Vrabel was 17-14 with a 1.74 ERA, and broke the BGSU softball record with 237 strikeouts. She finished the year ranked first in the MAC in strikeouts and ERA. In fact, she was ranked in the top-10 in every pitching category except saves.

Vrabel currently ranks second in the MAC in wins with 16 behind Kent State hurler Brittney Robinson, who captured MAC East Pitcher of the Week honors this week after recording 59 strikeouts in only 30 innings of work. Vrabel has also captured that same honor three times this season.

“I don’t have much time left here, so I think knowing that I only have a couple months left makes this season special,” Vrabel said. “I’m not worried about winning any personal awards. I’m more concerned with our team winning the MAC Championship.”

This year Vrabel ranks in the top five of the league in wins, opposition batting average, innings pitched and strikeouts, all of which Ross believes makes Vrabel one of the MAC’s best.

“We don’t like to focus on individual honors as much as our team’s success. I still believe, though, that Liz Vrabel is one of the most dominating pitchers in this league,” Ross said. “Receiving MAC Pitcher of the Year was a great honor for Liz last year, but I don’t think that even crosses her mind for this year.”

With an 11-5 league record, the Falcons are second in the MAC East behind Akron, which currently stands at 10-4. Although the team only has eight games remaining, six of them being in the MAC, Ross believes this season is far from over and there is still much to prove.

“We need to keep our intensity, battle our injuries, continue to have fun and play our game in order to finish strong in the conference,” Ross said. “We still have a chance to win the overall season title and if we take care of all the little things the odds become greater.”

The Falcons take on the Blue Demons from DePaul in a doubleheader this afternoon at Cacciatore Stadium in Chicago. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 3 p.m.