Pair of shutouts leads GVSU softball to 2 more wins over Northwood

GVL / Sheila Babbitt
GVSU's catcher catches a strike at the home game vs Northwood Univeristy on March 24th, 2018.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt GVSU's catcher catches a strike at the home game vs Northwood Univeristy on March 24th, 2018.

Kellen Voss

The Grand Valley State softball team continued to look like a national championship contender Saturday, March 24, as the Lakers didn’t allow Northwood University to score a single run all day, winning the first game 9-0 and the second 5-0.

Great pitching yet again carried the Lakers to both of their victories. Allison Lipovsky went the distance, allowing only two hits and two walks, and racking up 10 strikeouts in the first contest.

Led by designated hitter Nikoma Holmen’s five RBIs off two hits (while she herself scored two runs), the GVSU offense was in full swing. A flurry of three runs came in for Lakers in the bottom of the fifth, as Jessica Ramos and Kaylie Rhynard both doubled, clinching the early victory for GVSU due to the fifth-inning mercy rule.

Coach Dana Callahan was impressed with how her team played as a whole, and when asked who she thought the MVP of the day was, she simply couldn’t name just one.

“This really is a team sport, and no one can do it by themselves,” Callahan said. “We hit the ball well all day, and our pitching and defense was great. It was a solid day all around.”

The second game was more of the same for the Lakers as Hannah Beatus kept the strong pitching train rolling. She pitched a complete game shutout, earning seven strikeouts and allowing only five hits in seven solid innings of work.

The middle of the order stayed hot in the second game for the Laker offense. Holmen, Taylor Rieger and Kelcie LaTour combined for six hits and five RBIs from the 3-4-5 spots in the batting lineup.

Beatus could not be more complimentary of the defense behind her in her pitching performance, as two great catches in foul territory from left fielder Tanner Kiessel really kept the momentum going for GVSU.

“I’d credit my solid pitching performance to the defensive plays throughout the game,” Beatus said. “The foul ball catches are often overlooked, but they really set the tone for the defense in a game. The defense really made it happen today.”

GVSU was able to overcome the sub-40-degree temperatures, which didn’t really seem to impact them. Beatus credits this to their proper mindset.

“We started saying, ‘Think hot thoughts, think hot thoughts’ in the dugout,” Beatus said. “It started out as a bit of a joke, but we really bought into it and had awesome energy throughout the game.”

The Lakers really did look dominate in every facet of the game on Saturday. If they want to accomplish their dreams and earn an NCAA championship, they’ll have to keep this momentum going and communicate a little more on defense.

“We need to continue to make quality in-game adjustments, and I’d love to see us communicate a little more defense,” Callahan said. “But we really are gelling well, and nobody is doing too much for this team.”

With the two wins, GVSU’s overall record improves to 17-5, and the Lakers remain undefeated in conference. The Lakers look comfy in the top spot of the GLIAC standings and will need to continue this near-perfect play to stay there.

“We’re going to need to keep our energy up all season long,” Beatus said. “Our team motto is ‘shoot to kill,’ and we really did that today. As long as we each continue to do our job, we’re going to be one dangerous team.”

The Lakers look to improve their already-impressive record as they travel to Ohio for two games against Ashland and two games against Tiffin. They face Ashland on Tuesday, March 27, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. before facing Tiffin twice on Friday, March 30, at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.