WHITEWATER, Wis. - With 12 days between games, the Finlandia softball team needed to shake off the rust rather quickly for its first-round match up against No. 1 seed Wisconsin-Whitewater Thursday.
The Lions didn't quite manage.
The Warhawks took the lead with a two-run burst in the third inning and added insurance runs in the fourth and fifth frames to hand the Lions a 6-1 loss in the first round of NCAA regional action.
"They were good. They were a good fielding team and they didn't make mistakes defensively," FU coach Shawn Hendrickson said in a phone interview with the Daily Mining Gazette. "I'm not making excuses, but there was a little bit of rust on our part. We just didn't hit like we can.
"We can hit better than we showed."
With the loss, Finlandia draws Carthage College at noon today in the double-elimination tournament.
Alyson Herman started for Finlandia, going 4 2/3 innings with five earned runs, nine hits, a walk and no strikeouts to her credit. Miranda Brewer finished the game with 1 1/3 perfect innings.
Brewer will get the start today. The sophomore led the team with a 2.01 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 87 innings pitched this season.
"(Brewer) is deceptive," Hendrickson said. "She throws slower than Alyson and doesn't have that many pitches, but every game she comes out and pitches she finishes with good numbers. It's uncanny, really."
Finlandia actually took an early lead against Whitewater, scoring in the first inning on a Kristen Rose groundout. The Lions failed to capitalize on several chances over the next two innings, however, stranding three runners in scoring position.
"We proved we belong. They didn't run away," Hendrickson said. "Hopefully (Thursday) was shaking off the cobwebs and, today we will get out and hit."