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Rudiger, Dabrowski hope to continue their softball success

Mindy Rudiger takes over as head coach at St. Croix Central after serving as a softball assistant coach the past two seasons.

Mindy Rudiger and Emily (Howlett) Dabrowski played side-by-side for three years on the UW-River Falls softball infield, putting together some of the best seasons in Falcon history.

Now Rudiger and Dabrowski hope to impart their softball knowledge to the St. Croix Central softball teams. Rudiger is the new Panther varsity softball coach, after serving as the junior varsity coach the past two years under long-time coach Jimmy Anderson.

Rudiger and Dabrowski own many of the top spots in the UW-RF softball career record book. Rudiger, who played for the Falcons from 2006-09, is the program's career leader in hits, homers, runs scored and runs batted in.

Dabrowski was with the Falcons from 2007-09. She is the program's career batting average leader. She ranks second to Rudiger in homers and her name is prominent in nearly every other offensive category.

Rudiger is a fifth grade teacher at St. Croix Central and she's coached the Panther JV basketball team the past three years. Dabrowski teaches at the New Richmond Middle School and she's been New Richmond's varsity girls hockey coach the past three winters.

Working together is nothing new for Rudiger and Dabrowski. During their three seasons with the Falcons they played next to each other in the infield, Rudiger handling third base and Dabrowski shortstop.

The third coach on the Panther staff will be Chantele (Melgaard) Torrez, a former UW-River Falls athlete.

Rudiger is a 2005 graduate of Menomonie High School. She also played on the Falcon women's tennis team during her four years of college.

Rudiger said she has big shoes to fill in replacing Anderson.

"The girls just adore him," she said. Rudiger said Anderson was an excellent teacher who helped to develop her coaching skills.

The new coaches have worked to develop a philosophy that they hope will continue the success of the Panther program. Rudiger said her team will dedicate a great deal of time to have its fundamental skills in place.

"Every day we will work on the fundamentals of the game," Rudiger said, in following a routine the coaches started in college. "I'm really big on being mentally prepared.

The Panther varsity team returns three starters, but they will give the team strength up the middle in catcher Kalli Armagost, pitcher Kelly Harrington and centerfielder Kali Lawrence.

The rest of the Panther lineup will likely be on the younger side. Rudiger said she had 25 girls sign up for the season and 14 of them are sophomores.