|MAC tourney next for Falcons (05-08-12)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 08 May 2012 09:10|
Bowling Green has been one of the best softball teams in the Mid-American Conference this season.
The Falcons are hoping to continue their success this week in the conference tournament at Akron's Firestone Stadium.
BG, 35-20 overall, received a first-round bye and plays Central Michigan (26-25) or Kent State (26-28) Wednesday night at 7:30.
The Falcons are the No. 3 seed in the tournament, while Central is the No. 6 seed and Kent is seeded seventh.
They finished second in the East Division with a 15-7 record, one-game behind Miami at 16-6.
BG led the division going into the weekend, but split at Miami Friday and lost single games at West champion Ball State Saturday and Sunday.
"We didn't win Sunday, but we feel good about the way we're playing," BG coach Shannon Salsburg said. "We played hard against a good team (Ball State) and we've played well during the season. We're excited about the tournament."
BG was picked last in the East coaches poll after going 12-32 overall and 6-15 in the MAC last season.
"From where we were last year to where we are now, to get a bye is a great accomplishment," said Salsburg, whose team is 16-6 in its last 22 games. "But now we're concentrating on the tournament, taking it one game at a time and looking only at Kent and Central."
BYES: BG and fourth-seeded Ohio received first-round byes in the tournament. Top-seeded Ball State and No. 2 Miami earned byes for the first two rounds.
Ball State and Miami need three victories to win the double-elimination, while BG and Ohio need four and the other teams need five. Of course, that's assuming they stay in the winners' bracket.
"The bye means one less game our pitchers have to throw," Salsburg said. "We'll be fresh against a team that has already played a game, but the team we play will have had a chance to play a game in the tournament."
The tournament is divided into two four-team pools, based on seeding.
One pool consists of No. 2 Miami, No. 3 BG No. 6 Central and No. 7 Kent. The other pool has No. 1 Ball State, No. 4 Ohio, No. 5 Western Michigan and No. 8 Toledo.
TABLE SETTER: Rachel Proehl, who hits second in the BG lineup, is having a solid season. The senior is hitting .312, while scoring 24 runs and striking out just eight times in 143 plate appearances.
"She is a tough out. She is going to get on and set the table for us, along with Hannah (Fulk, BG's leadoff hitter)," Salsburg said. "She's been in that exact same spot for four years, knows her role and understands what she is trying to do. She just goes out and plays."
Proehl also has just two errors in left field.
DIALED IN: Juniors Fulk and Paige Berger carried the BG offense last weekend, totaling 14 of BG's 27 hits. Fulk was 7-for-13 with five runs scored, three homers and five runs batted in. Berger was7-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
Berger leads BG with a .329 average, while Fulk is second at .319. They've combined for 20 homers and 65 RBI.
"They swung the bat very well and to have them dialed in the way they are going into the tournament is fantastic," Salsburg said.
ACES: Although BG freshmen pitchers Paris Imholz and Jamie Kertes gave up 18 runs on 42 hits last weekend, they're two of the MAC's top pitchers.
Imholz is second in the MAC with a 1.85 ERA, while Kertes is fourth at 2.25. BG is second as a team at 2.16, including a MAC-best 2.19 in conference games only.
"They're the biggest difference over last season," said Salsburg, whose team returned all of its position players. "They've pitched well all season and they've kept us in every game and we didn't have that last season.
SPLITS: BG split at Kent April 6 and at home against Central April 14-15.
LEADERS: BG - last in the MAC with a 246 batting average - will face good pitching against Kent and Central.
Kent freshman Emma Johnson is third in the MAC with a 2.22 ERA, while Central junior Kara Dornbos is seventh at 2.39 and and sophomore teammate Chelsea Sundberg is 10th at 3.27.
Central junior Macy Merchant is eighth in the MAC in hitting (.358).
PRACTICE: BG was scheduled to practice this afternoon at Firestone Stadium.
NCAA: The MAC tournament champion advances to the NCAA tournament.
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