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Softball runs out of magic at regionals

First pitch…gone.

This was the result Thursday night when Falcon freshman Jeanine Baca crushed the first pitch of the first inning over the left field fence and into the BG bullpen. However, after that first pitch their season was…gone.

The Falcons did not score another run as the University of Illinois at Chicago defeated the BGSU softball team 2-1 in the NCAA Region 6 Championship at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor, MI. The Falcons also lost earlier in the day 7-0 to Oregon State.

Falcon head coach Leigh Ross-Shaw said both fatigue and nervousness were factors in the losses.

“We were still kind of tired coming down from last weekend (the Mid-American Conference Tournament),” Ross-Shaw said. “The first game we were a little nervous. When Oregon State got ahead in that first inning, it was a little too much for the girls and we just couldn’t get anything together after that. But (we) had spent so much energy the previous weekend. It’s hard to do that in back to back weekends.”

According to Baca, the team could have played better in both games and probably should have won the UIC game, if so many people had not been left on base and some of the errors had not been committed. She said playing a PAC-10 team like Oregon State was a challenge that can only strengthen the Falcons in the future.

“We didn’t play up to our potential, but we also have to understand that we went up against a PAC-10 team,” Baca said. “Even though we didn’t go as far as we wanted, it was still an experience that we will never forget.”

After getting just two hits in game one against Oregon State, the Falcons managed six hits against UIC. Falcon senior Jody Johnson, who pitched in game 2, allowed four hits and one unearned run in four-and-one-third innings in her final outing for BGSU. Ross-Shaw said Johnson has done a lot for the team and will be missed.

“Jody’s the type of kid that you wish every kid was like,” Ross-Shaw said. “She’s a great leader and she made a huge impact on this program. I can’t say enough about her. She played her little heart out and it just didn’t happen to go our way.”

The Falcons won the MAC Championship the previous weekend. After losing the first game of the MAC tournament, the Falcons won four straight, defeating the top four seeds in the process. Ross-Shaw said that despite losing in the Region Championship, she is proud of the team’s efforts and accomplishments this season.

“It still feels like a dream, not just because we won the tournament, but because of the way we played more than anything,” Ross-Shaw said. “We weren’t expected to do that, so it makes it even sweeter.”

Ross-Shaw said that all of this experience can only help this team in the future, especially since it is so young.

“All season long we had ups and downs,” Ross-Shaw said. “This team finally pulled together one weekend when it really counted; we really peaked (in the MAC Tournament). We have so many freshman and sophomores who have been involved in a championship and all I hope is that they learn from all of that this year and expect that next year.”

Baca said she could not have asked for a better freshman year, and that this team will continue to get better as the years progress.

“We accomplished a lot my freshman year and I know in the years to come, we will be one of the teams that will come out of the regionals and play in the championships,” Baca said. “It was quite a ride to make it this far. We came together, not only as a team, but a family and it was good timing because we all wanted the same thing and that was to win the MAC.”

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