It started on the ice, and then spread, untraced, onto the
football field and basketball court. Upset after upset, the Bowling
Green State University Falcons and their counterparts in the Mid
American Conference are transforming the mid-major league into a
bona fide national power. Today, the Falcons are hoping to expand
this trend to the softball field.

Upsetting No. 12 Michigan (21-6) would be a daunting task for
the Falcons (10-11). Only a year ago, Bowling Green upset the
Wolverines in the first game of a doubleheader. But this time it
faces a Michigan team that has been relentless on the mound,
allowing less than one run a game, while racking up 205
strikeouts.

Though on paper, the Wolverines should walk all over the
Falcons, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins refuses to look past Bowling
Green.

“Bowling Green beat us in the first game of the double
header last year,” Hutchins said. “They have a good
pitcher in (sophomore) Liz Vrabel, and they have (sophomore Gina)
Rango back.”

Rango was a first-team All-Region selection at third base last
season and has been impressive thus far this year. Through the
first 21 games, Rango has hit .371 with three home runs and 17
RBIs. She has been the cornerstone of a Falcon offense that scores
runs in bulk.

“Any team has the capability to explode,” Hutchins
said. “The goal of our defense, which starts on the mound, is
to stop that. We need to get ahead of their hitters, make them hit
our pitches.”

The defense will be anchored on the mound by both sophomore
Jennie Ritter and freshman Lorilyn Wilson — Hutchins has not
decided who will pitch each game. Junior pitcher Nicole Motycka
will receive some well-deserved rest this week. Hutchins said she
feels good about Motycka’s status, as there is no serious
injury, but is taking this final chance to give her some
precautionary rest before Big Ten play begins.

Ritter and Wilson have been in top form this entire season.
Ritter has compiled an 8-3 record with a 0.98 earned run average.
She also hurled the 20th no-hitter in school history on March 12.
Ritter was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week last week. Wilson has
been virtually un-hittable in her limited action, going 4-0 without
giving up an earned run. She has allowed just nine hits in 27.2
innings.

While its pitching has been stellar, Michigan’s offense
has been its soft spot thus far, and Hutchins is hoping for
increased production during this last week before the conference
season.

“Our offense is not coming together like we need it
to,” Hutchins said. “The bottom half of our order
really needs to pick it up.”

Hutchins is trying to shake up the lineup a bit, both as a
reward for outstanding performances and to try to increase
production. Freshman outfielder Rebekah Milian hit .375 in three
starts over the weekend, and is now hitting .333 in 17 games of
work. As a result, Hutchins has moved Milian up to the second spot
in the order.

Michigan’s fielding has greatly improved after it
committed 14 errors in the first eight games of the year. Since
then, the Wolverines have committed a mere 12 errors in 19 games,
and have not made a blunder in more than 40 innings.

The first clash of the doubleheader between the Wolverines and
the Falcons is scheduled for today at 2 p.m. Should rain postpone
the game, the teams have agreed to play tomorrow.

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