Behind 11 returning players, BG more experienced, mature

The BGSU softball team is confident about this year and will open its season in Chattanooga, Tenn., playing in the Panera Challenge.

The teams they will be playing against are Virginia, Chattanooga, Maine, UAB, East Tennessee State and Belmont.

The Falcons have 11 returning players this season at the junior or senior class standing. The seniors leading the team this year are Gina Rango, Abby Habicht, Liz Vrabel, Lindsay Heimrich and Natalie Armintrout.

Rango, who plays third base, was 2005’s Mid-American Conference MVP.

Vrabel was 2005’s MAC Pitcher of the Year and was named to the All-MAC First Team.

This makes the Falcons the first team in the MAC to have the MVP and the pitcher of the year return the following season.

Both players have been starters since they were freshmen.

After having one of the youngest teams in the nation last year, BG head coach Leigh Ross is optimistic that her seniors will guide their team this season.

“Last year we felt we were very young and couldn’t find enough leadership to take the entire team in one direction,” Ross said. “This year’s five seniors have really made a commitment to their team and coaching staff to lead in a positive direction.”

Along with Rango and Vrabel, Habicht and Heimrich have also been starters since their freshman year.

There are six juniors that were a part of 2004’s MAC championship team. The rest of the team is made up of three sophomores and three freshmen.

“We are very excited about the depth of this team,” Ross said. “We feel our lineup can be very strong and we have the ability to play more than just nine players each game. This team gets a little bit of everything from each of the 17 players: Speed, power, pitching, line drives, defense, hustle and desire.”

All of those qualities will be useful this season because like last year, the Falcons will have some tough competition.

“We will be playing a very tough schedule including many games against top 25 teams,” Ross said. “We want this team to look at itself as a top 25 contender ” to not let that competition shake its confidence but understand we are better because of it.”