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ISSUE 121 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/25/2008

Softball shuts down Bethel

By Eric Monek Anderson
Sports Editor

Friday, April 25, 2008

Capping off a rather typical busy week in late April, the St. Olaf softball team swept Bethel University 7-0 and 3-1. St. Olaf ace Katie Truax '11 threw a brilliant one-hitter in the opener, allowing a lone single and two walks.

The Oles proved clutch offensively behind Truax, producing seven runs on just nine hits, two walks and two Bethel errors. Third baseman Ali Berens '10 and designated hitter Jordan Wilson '11 each contributed two hits, while Wilson and catcher Emily Hennig '08 knocked in two runs apiece. Truax picked up her third win of the week, running her record to 8-4.

In the nightcap, the Oles again benefited from strong pitching and defense. After Bethel took an early 1-0 lead, St. Olaf's offense woke up for three runs in the fifth inning. They benefited from an error on Hennig's RBI double that allowed Hennig herself to score. Natalie McNeff '11 threw six innings of strong softball, scattering eight hits and surrendering only one unearned run. She didn't walk a batter. Truax pitched the seventh to close down the game and St. Olaf's first conference sweep of the season.

Not only did the Oles sweep, but they also did it against a strong opponent. Bethel entered the game fifth in the MIAC with a 9-5 record, but left with two losses and just one run against the Oles' first-year pitching staff.

The Oles' week of eight games in five days began with two splits. Last Thursday they fell to St. Benedict in the opener 8-6. Erin Johnson '09 proved strong in relief as St. Olaf nearly rallied from an 8-3 deficit. In the second game, Truax pumped in her first of two shutouts on the week, scattering five hits. Ellen Larson '10 had two doubles and three RBI. Janae Fabini '08 also homered.

Sunday an offensive outburst against Augsburg led the softball team to an easy 15-4 victory in game one. Fabini had five RBI. The offense sputtered in the second game, though, as St. Olaf lost 4-2.

The following day Hamline swept a close doubleheader 4-1 and 6-3 in games rescheduled from April 3.

Over the seven-day stretch, the Oles went 5-3 to nearly equal their league wins from last year.

Earlier in the week, head coach Ruthie Neuger spoke of her team's potential. "This team needs to realize how good they are," she said.

She was also complimentary of her team's ability to adjust to several postponements and key injuries or illnesses. McNeff is beginning to regain her strength after an early bout with mononucleosis while a couple other players have either been lost for the season or not returned. The team is on its third shortstop.

The team plays yet another conference doubleheader against Concordia-Moorhead Thursday at home. 7-11 in the MIAC, they sit in eighth place, three games behind Bethel for the last MIAC playoff spot. Six teams make the postseason.

If they play their last four conference games like they did Wednesday, they should make the end of the season interesting. Concordia and Carleton, the teams remaining on the schedule, are 10th and 12th in the MIAC, respectively.

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