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ISSUE 121 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/11/2008

Softball drops pair at home: Team plays first home games, surrenders 16 runs in losses

By Eric Monek Anderson
Sports Editor

Friday, April 11, 2008

After a considerable delay, the St. Olaf softball team finally played their first home game of the season Wednesday afternoon, falling to Gustavus in both games of a doubleheader.

Gustavus used eight walks and three St. Olaf errors to produce a 9 -- 5 win in the opener. In the nightcap, a 15-hit attack proved too much for St. Olaf as the Gusties triumphed 7 -- 3 to complete the sweep.

Of the eight runs allowed by first-year Natalie McNeff in game one, only five were earned. She struck out six in 5 2/3 innings of work.

Three Oles had two hits: Janae Fabini '08, Melanie Brooks '11 and Ellen Larson '10, who leads the team in hitting on the season. Emily Hennig '08 managed the team's only extra-base hit, a triple.

Katie Truax '11, who relieved McNeff in the first game, pitched the entire second game against Gustavus. She helped her cause with two of the Oles' ten hits, but fell prey to 15 Gustie hits and three errors from her own defense.

Fabini again contributed three hits and an RBI. Larson, hitting in the cleanup spot, had two more hits to raise her average to .436.

However, the Oles' decent offensive performance couldn't offset their woes in the field as they fell to ninth in the conference.

The Oles' home opener was originally scheduled for Apr. 3 against Hamline, but the indecisive weather postponed the game until Apr. 21. The necessity of rescheduling leaves the Oles with 10 games in 10 days later in the season.

Last Thursday, the Oles kicked off MIAC play with a doubleheader at St. Mary's while snow still rested on the St. Olaf grounds. They fell 9-1 and 9-4, providing St. Mary's with two of its three wins at that point in the season.

Saturday St. Olaf bounced back with an extra-innings victory over Macalester in St. Paul. Janae Fabini '08 contributed three hits, while first-year pitcher Natalie McNeff scattered four hits in two scoreless innings to gain her second win.

After Wednesday's games, the Oles' record sits at 8-10 (1-5 in the MIAC).

They took a spring break trip to Florida on which they went 5 -- 3. They were able to show surprising versatility, winning one game 14-2 and another 1-0. First-year Katie Truax threw her first career shutout in the latter game against MIT.

The two postponements might cause some issues later in the season, particularly for the somewhat undermanned Oles. However, sophomore Alyssa Williams, who started 31 games as a first-year, rejoined the team after the break to provide some extra help.

Ali Berens '10, an All-MIAC pick last season, said that the trip helped the team's confidence.

"Spring break showed that we can hit, so hopefully we will move from there," she said. "It's hard to back inside after already playing out in the field. However, I feel we have worked hard enough to overcome the obstacles that we will face in the next few weeks." The softball team plays Thursday afternoon at St. Thomas in a game rescheduled from Monday. They also play Saturday at home against Concordia-Moorhead in a game beginning at 1 p.m.

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