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Softball swept by Eau Claire, Whitewater

UW-River Falls pitcher Heidi Emmer winds up to deliver a pitch to the plate in the second game of the Falcons' doubleheader against UW-Whitewater Saturday at Ramer Field.Bob Burrows photo

The UW-River Falls softball team opened WIAC play on the short side of a pair of doubleheader sweeps last week to nationally ranked opponents.

The Falcons lost a heartbreaker, 4-3, to No. 3 UW-Eau Claire in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday in Eau Claire, they rallied in the second game but dropped a 5-3 decision to the Blugolds.

Saturday the Falcons were swept by No. 11 UW-Whitewater, 10-0 and 7-3. Sunday's scheduled doubleheader against UW-Oshkosh was postponed due to snow. No make-up date has been set.

UW-Eau Claire is the defending NCAA Division III national champion while UW-Whitewater was runner-up in 2008.

The Falcons, now 11-9 overall, will play at Bethel Thursday and host UW-Stout Friday at 2 p.m.

"It's a tough way to start the conference season," Falcon coach Jody Gabriel said about the 0-4 start. "But the team learned something from each game and plans to carry that forward into the rest of our conference games."

In the WIAC opener Thursday at Eau Claire, Dana Book it a three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning to tie the score, but the Blugolds escaped with a 4-3 win thanks to a solo homer by Jenny Janke in the sixth.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for UW-RF.

Jamie Klein tossed all six innings for the Falcons, allowing four runs, all earned, on eight hits. Klein walked five and struck out four.

Mindy Rudiger drove in a pair of runs in the nightcap but UW-RF couldn't overcome the Blugolds's 5-0 lead and fell, 5-3. Christina Korger took the loss in relief.

"We threatened against Eau Claire a number of times and in both of those games one more hit here or there could have turned the game our way," said Gabriel.

Saturday against Whitewater, Rudiger and Patty Olson each had singles but the Warhawks erupted for a 10-0 win in the opener.

In the nightcap, Sarah Fern drove in a pair of runs with a sacrifice fly and single and Rachel Mathias scored on a wild pitch but the Falcons fell, 7-3.