Hits getting hard to come by for GVSU softball

The softball team put up 12 runs in three losses this past weekend.

Eric Coulter

The softball team put up 12 runs in three losses this past weekend.

Curtis Kalleward

After enjoying a prolonged offensive spurt in the season’s first half, a recent hitting slump has left Grand Valley State University’s softball players scraping up dust.

“It’s surprising that we hit a wall offensively,” said freshman pitcher Katie Martin. “Our conference play has been a tougher battle than we thought it would be. We were doing really well, but things like this happen to teams. The ups and downs go together.”

The Lakers (21-15 overall, 9-7 GLIAC) have dropped six of their last nine games, including both parts of a doubleheader against GLIAC No. 2 Ashland University Saturday and one part of a doubleheader against Tiffin University Sunday.

“We’re starting to face the tougher teams in the conference,” Martin said. “We’re struggling to catch up to people and getting to hit better pitching. The speeds of the pitches have more movement.”

GVSU head coach Doug Woods added that Eagles starting pitchers Emlyn Knerem and Logan Hursey were heavy contributors to his team’s paltry showing at the plate Saturday.

“Today we just ran into two really good pitchers,” Woods said. “They’re probably two of the best pitchers in our league. We had to keep working and adjusting at the plate.”

Aside from facing tough play from the opposing mound, the Lakers failed to adjust to what they were facing. Freshman Kayleigh Bertram said the team has often had difficulty adapting to opposing pitchers this season.

“I think we’re just pinching too much at the plate,” Bertram said. “We’re not reacting to what the pitchers actually throw. We’re trying to outsmart the pitcher, which isn’t always possible.”

Their recent slide against GLIAC opponents has knocked the Lakers down to sixth place in the 10-team conference.

“We need to loosen up and not be so tense,” Bertram said. “We’ve shown that we can play and we can hit, we just have to go back to doing that.”

Along with their losses and declining hit totals, the Lakers have also seen an increase in errors, committing 15 in their last nine outings. Martin, however, said that errors were not the main reason for the team’s downfall this past weekend.

“Errors are just part of the game,” she said. “Ashland was hitting the ball pretty hard. I wouldn’t blame it on mental focus. We just weren’t ready for how hard they hit the ball.”

Though the going might be tough, the Lakers are keeping their sights set on improving and pulling through their struggles.

“We have to keep persevering and pushing to get better,” Martin said. “Hitting is contagious. With one big hit, everything can just get going. The same thing is with errors, everything is contagious.”

GVSU has 10 games remaining on their GLIAC season schedule against heavyweights in Saginaw Valley State University, Northwood University, Wayne State University and Ferris State University, each of whom are currently seated above the Lakers in the conference standings.

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