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ISSUE 120 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/16/2007

Softball swept in season opener

By Eric Monek Anderson
Sports Editor

Friday, March 16, 2007

The St. Olaf fastpitch team lost twice last Thursday to Waldorf College in their first two games of the 2007 season. The Oles lost 8-2 and 9-1 in the nonleague doubleheader held at the Rosemount Dome in Rosemount, Minn.

Waldorf, an NAIA school, featured three-time All-American pitcher Maria Jensen in the first game. St. Olaf head coach Ruthie Neuger was pleased with the team's performance against such a difficult mound opponent, though still disappointed with the losses.

"“We had some folks come through at the plate, which was good to see,”" Neuger said.

Shortstop Emily Hennig ‘'08 paced the Oles in the first game with two hits and drove in both runs. As a team, St. Olaf managed five hits to go along with four errors. Sophomore pitcher Erin Johnson took the loss.

In the second game, St. Olaf recorded only one hit, senior Christina Sampson's triple in the second inning. Sampson scored on a Waldorf error, but Waldorf came back to score nine unanswered runs on 12 hits for an easy victory. Junior hurler Jenny Beiersdorf was saddled with the loss.

Neuger attributes some early-season inconsistencies to youth and the team's inexperience playing with each other, because six athletes play winter sports and joined the team well into the practice season.

“"We have some first years who will play a significant role for us this year,"” Neuger said. "“Ali Berens [‘'10] looks very strong at catcher and will improve with every game, and Paige Olson ['‘10] in center field has an arm that will prove she belongs out there.”"

Neuger also pointed out that defensively, the Oles will be solid.

"“With our talented upper class players, defensively, things look good,"” Neuger said. “"We also have some folks who are swinging the bat very well, which is exciting."”

Nonleague matchups at the Dome allow the fastpitch team to escape the confines of St. Olaf's athletic facilities for valuable game experience before their spring break trip to Tucson, Ariz. With two weeks from the first doubleheader until the trip, they have significant practice time to work on game situations.

“"We are in a fieldhouse from February 1 to March 23,”" Neuger said. “"Anytime you can hit a ball higher than the fieldhouse ceiling during that time is very helpful for our outfielders. It was great practice for them just to warm up in the Dome. It also breaks the monotony up a bit.”"

In Tucson beginning March 24, the fastpitch team will play three games apiece against Pacific Lutheran University, Eastern Oregon University and Graceland College.

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