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Hudsonite leading UW-RF to record softball year

Jody (Porter) Gabriel is the interim head softball coach at UW-River Falls and has led the Falcons to a 19-1 overall record at the mid-point of the season.

The Falcons, 2-0 in WIAC play, were ranked No. 11 in the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association national poll. UWRF has won a school-record 13 straight games.

Gabriel last summer replaced Faye Perkins, who was been named the interim dean of the UWRF College of Education and Professional Studies.

"I am happy that Jody has accepted this position as interim head softball coach," said Falcon Athletic Director Bowen. "Jody's experience as our current assistant coach will serve our program very well."

Gabriel, who completed her fifth season as assistant softball coach at UW-RF in 2007, previously coached at St. Mary's, Minn., University for two years, where the Cardinals were co-MIAC champions in 2001 and placed second in 2002. In 2001 the Cardinals placed fourth in the NCAA National Tournament.

She worked primarily with infield corners and hitters. She has also coached at the high school and traveling levels in Hudson, Hastings, River Falls and Forest Lake, Minn.

Gabriel said a key to the team's success this year has been its experience, with six starting seniors who have been contributing for three years.

"They know what it takes. It's actually very nice. They run the show in essence," Gabriel said. "I tell them what we need to get done and they get everything set up and get the drills going. They really took ownership of the team."

The 32 wins last season were a school record, and the team only lost one starting player from that squad.

How far can they go this year? "All the way if they bring their best game every day," Gabriel said.

Gabriel competed with the Falcons from 1994-96. The 1994 team won the WIAC title and competed in the NCAA Div. III playoffs. The 1994 team also had the second highest grade point average in the nation. She played high school softball at Forest Lake, Minn., from 1990-92.

She earned her undergraduate degree from UW-RF in accounting in 1996 and her master's degree in social studies from UW-RF in 2000. She is currently teaching social studies at Hudson High School. She is married to Barry Gabriel and they have a daughter, Sydney, who was born in January 2004, and a son, Caden, who was born Feb. 9, 2007. They reside in Hudson.