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Published: Wednesday, 5/7/2008

Bowling Green vs. Ohio in MAC softball first round

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Oh no, it's OU.

Ohio University, the only team that swept Bowling Green State University in softball during the regular season is the Falcons' first-round opponent in the Mid-American Conference tournament which begins today in Akron.

BG had won 11 of 12 before Friday when it fell to the Bobcats 8-0 and 3-2. BG and OU will meet again at 7:30 p.m. - the last of four quarterfinal games at Firestone Stadium.

"We're actually really excited [to play OU]," BG coach Shannon Salsburg said. "We had just come off final exams and were really lethargic and didn't give them our best shot."

BG (17-22, 14-5) is seeded third, a position that few could have predicted after the Falcons began the season 0-16. BG won the eight-team double elimination tournament in 2004.

Should the Falcons prevail over OU, they would play either No. 2 Central Michigan or No. 7 Ball State. Top-seeded Kent State (40-10, 20-2) will play Akron with the winner advancing to play the winner of the 4-5 matchup between Miami and Western Michigan. Semifinal games will be played tomorrow.

"I would say Kent is definitely the team to beat," Salsburg said. "We obviously feel very good about our chances, but if you want to throw a bull's-eye on someone it would be Kent."

BG split two games with the Golden Flashes in late March.

Salsburg may summon Hayley Wiemer to pitch every game of the tournament. Wiemer, who starred at St. Ursula, is 13-5 with a 1.99 ERA and was named to the All-MAC first team the last two years. Emily Gouge (4-11; 3.46) would likely take the mound if Wiemer can't go.

"It's going to be totally off my gut who throws," Salsburg said. "Hayley could pitch every game if we need her to. I'm not sure what approach we're going to take."

ARMED AND DANGEROUS: The Falcon baseball team received three strong pitching performances in a weekend sweep at Ohio University. Frank Berry (seven innings, four earned runs), Kevin Light (62/3, 2) and Kevin Leady (5, 4) notched victories as the Falcons passed OU in the conference standings. It was BG's first sweep of OU in Athens since 1976.

"The pitching was key there," BG coach Danny Schmitz said. "I didn't think we pitched as well as we should have at Miami the week before. We challenged our pitchers and I'm happy to say we got three quality starts, and the bullpen did a great job."

BG is second in the East at 10-8, trailing Kent State at 12-6. Four teams in the West have at least 11 conference wins.

For the second time this year, BG smashed eight home runs in Saturday's 18-4 rout of the Bobcats. Andrew Foster and Dennis Vaughn each had two. Brian Hangbers hit his eighth of the season.

"We need our top guys to play like top guys if we're going to have success," Schmitz said. "Hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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