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Rango set to unleash record bat in tourney

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BOWLING GREEN - A pitcher facing Gina Rango might not recognize her as a four-time All-Mid-American Conference player by her batting stance.

In an unorthodox style, Rango, Bowling Green State University's third baseman, holds her hands apart and rests the bat on her shoulder.

"The way she holds the bat, you don't really teach," BGSU softball coach Leigh Ross said. "But she's always been very successful with it."

It's been years since Rango has gone unnoticed in the lineup, though.

From North Lima, Ohio, she's set 10 school rec-ords and is the only Falcon to earn first-team All-MAC honors in each of her four years. The fourth of the honors was announced last night.

Rango and the Falcons (35-21, 16-6 MAC) compete in the MAC tournament today in Midland, Mich. As the No. 3 seed they will play No. 6 seed Akron at 11 a.m.

Among the career school rec-ords Rango holds are batting average (.373), RBIs (132), home runs (26), hits (261) and doubles (51). She broke the records in the first three categories her junior year.

Last season Rango won the MAC player of the year award by hitting .366 with 31 RBIs. She was named to the Easton All-America third team. Although she didn't win the award this year, she is leading BGSU with a .390 batting average and 32 RBIs.

Rango left the BGSU softball field in style. On Senior Day against the University of Toledo on April 30, she hit a walk-off home run in the eighth inning to give the Falcons a 6-5 victory. Rango was 4-for-4 in the game with two home runs and two RBIs.

Rango said her success as a hitter, perhaps the best in BGSU history, comes from being fearless in the batter's box.

"Just getting in the box, staying confident and looking for a pitch that I can hit somewhere hard," she said.

Rango is the fastest player on the team, running to first base in just 2.6 seconds.

"If she can just touch the ball, she's going to hit it hard somewhere, and with her speed on top of it she'll beat out some hits that maybe other people wouldn't beat out," Ross said. "Her whole life, she's just always been the hitter."

Although Rango's physical contributions have stayed consistent throughout her BGSU career, she has worked throughout her career on being a better team leader. Rango has done the best with that goal this season, Ross said.

"I think Gina's greatest improvement this year has been her attitude," Ross said. "Changing that, if she doesn't get it done right then, she can go to the next person and say, 'Hey, I know you can do this.' That is huge."

After going to the NCAA tournament two years ago, the Falcons missed it last year. This season, with wins over ranked teams such as Baylor and Washington, BGSU might have a chance for an at-large bid, but the Falcons don't want to take any chances.

"Hopefully we peak right there, at the MAC tournament," Rango said. "We want to go back to the NCAAs."

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.

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