|BG softball eyes MAC title (02-13-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 13 February 2013 10:11|
Bowling Green’s softball team had one of the best seasons in school history last spring.
But the Falcons are far from satisfied. Instead, they believe they have unfinished business to complete this season.
The Falcons return six starting position players and both starting pitchers from last season when they were 36-22 overall and 15-7 in the Mid-American Conference.
BG was just one win shy of tying the school record for victories in a season, but it failed to advance to the championship game of the MAC tournament.
The Falcons already have been picked to win the MAC East Division this season after finishing second behind Miami (17-7) last season.
“We’re even more hungry for a MAC championship than we were because we were so close last season,” said BG senior shortstop Hannah Fulk, a first-team All-MAC selection last season.
“We have more of a drive, more of a push this season,” Fulk added. “Last season proved to us that we could do it and we could be successful.”
BG begins its season Friday in a tournament at South Carolina-Upstate.
“We really, really want a MAC championship,” Fulk said. “Everyone is pushing each other more this year. There’s a lot of competition for playing time.”
The Falcons were the MAC’s surprise team last season after being last in the East in the coaches poll. They were 12-32, 6-15 in 2011.
“We know we have a target on our back, but we’re taking the same approach as we did last season and not looking too much into the future,” Fulk said. “We’re taking it one day, one pitch, one everything at a time.”
The Falcons’ strength should be their pitching with the return of sophomores Paris Imholz and Jamie Kertes.
Kertes was the MAC freshman of the year and was named first-team All-MAC with Imholz.
“They started to emerge as leaders last year because they always had the ball, and they were getting the job done,” BG coach Shannon Salsburg said. “Now, you can see they’re more comfortable in that situation.”
Imholz was 17-9 with a 1.81 earned-run average last season, while Kertes was 17-13 with a 2.20 ERA.
They combined for 227 strikeouts and just 55 walks in 3762⁄3 innings, while allowing 364 hits.
“I’m really excited to see what they can do,” Salsburg said. “The sky is the limit.”
BG’s major concern is to develop a more consistent offense after it hit just .243 last season.
And that average was just .189 without Fulk (.327 average, 15 home runs, 34 runs batted in), senior first baseman Paige Berger (.326-7-35) and junior outfielder Katie Yoho (.312-10-35). No other Falcon hit more than .299.
“We need to be more consistent one through nine in the order,” Salsburg said.
BG’s other returning position players are senior Andrea Arney at second, sophomore Shelby Fink in the outfield, and senior Adrienne Dick and junior Erika Stratton at catcher.
The Falcons have two positions to fill — third base and one spot in the outfield.
Sophomore Chloe Giordano is at third after playing the outfield last season. She was recruited as a second baseman.
“As a team, we’re better than last year,” Fulk said. “Everyone’s stepped up their game.”
A talented freshmen class. that includes outfielders Jessica Gregg, Marisa Shook and Lexie Valone. are adding depth to the team. All three are battling for the open outfield position.
The Falcons play their first 26 games on the road before their home and MAC openers March 29 against Ball State and March 29-30-31 against Miami.
Ball State is the coach’s pick to win the West and the tournament championship.
“In the past, we’ve talked about how to finish a game,” Salsburg said. “Now, it’s how do we win a game and win games when they really matter. It’s a complete change of focus. We’re doing challenge drills in practice, as individuals and as a team, where they have to come through in specific situations. If they can come through in those situations in a game, we can achieve our goals.”
|Last Updated on Saturday, 16 February 2013 10:15|
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