March 26, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

UNION What do you get with an extra year of experience? A team that doesnt collapse when the going gets tough.

Unions softball team, entering its second year with a program, faced its stiffest challenge of the season Monday when it hosted Heppner in a non-league varsity doubleheader.

In both contests, the Bobcats kept their composure after falling behind. Union lost 8-4 in the first game and 9-4 in the second.

Last year, we would have collapsed following a big inning (from the other team), Union coach Steve Robertson said.

Chalk it up to experience.

Union (2-2) used its strength at the plate to stay in the twin bill. The Bobcats outhit Heppner in both games, getting 12 in the first and seven in the second while striking out three times for the day.

The only problem was advancing runners to home plate.

I felt pretty good on the day. We had base runners all day; we just couldnt come through with the key hit, Robertson said. We had too many ground outs.

Union took a 1-0 lead after the first inning, but Heppner tied the contest 1-1 in the top of the third before scoring five runs in the fourth.

We had three errors and they had five hits, including a home run, in that fifth inning, Robertson said.

Last year, the Bobcats would have called it a game after the five-run inning, but Union responded by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the seventh.

Kallin Prince had three hits, and Colbi Robertson, Jana Brotherton, DeeAnna Hall and Jennifer Sasser added two apiece.

In the second game, Union trailed 4-3 after four innings before the Mustangs made their run, increasing their lead to 7-4 heading into the final inning.

It was a closer game because we didnt give up the big inning, Robertson said. We had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh inning; we just didnt get a hit to move them around.

Brotherton, at bat with two outs, hit a solid shot to deep center field, but Heppners center fielder was able to run down.

Our hits were right at people. We just didnt handle the pressure as well as (Heppner) did, Robertson said.

Union hosts its Eastern Oregon League opener Friday when Pilot Rock comes to town for a doubleheader.

Heppner 001 052 0 8 10 4

Union 100 020 1 4 12 5

Kempas and Gutteurrez; Sasser and J.Waite.

Union hits Prince 3, Robertson 2, Brotherton 2, Hall 2, Sasser 2, Helmer. 2B Brotherton. RBI Hall, Sasser.

Heppner 200 221 2 9 4 3

Union 111 001 0 4 7 4

Kempas and Gutteurrez; Sasser and Weitlauf.

Union hits Wike 2, Weitlauf, Prince, Brotherton, Hall, Sasser. RBI Robertson 2.