GV softball opens conference play with winning weekend

GVL / Archive
Senior Carli Raisutis during the Lakers previous match

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Senior Carli Raisutis during the Lakers previous match

Samantha Butcher

Continuing its strongest season start since 2004, the Grand Valley State University softball team went 5-1 this weekend as it opened conference play.

After starting their six-game weekend with a 2-1 loss against Tiffin University (11-12, 2-4 GLIAC) on Friday, the Lakers (22-4, 5-1 GLIAC) rebounded to a victory in their second showdown with the Dragons, 4-1. From there, the team’s momentum continued to build, sweeping their Saturday twinbill against Wayne State University (8-14, 0-4 GLIAC) 3-1 and 12-6 before ending the weekend with a pair of wins against Findlay University (11-8, 3-3 GLIAC), 9-2 and 14-1.

The Lakers’ winning weekend, as well as their previous success, is largely due to their pitching success, said Doug Woods, GVSU head softball coach.

“Right now our pitching has been very good,” he said. “Even in a couple of the games we’ve lost, our pitching has been good and we just haven’t gotten enough hits. If we keep our hitting going in that direction along with the pitching, we should be in good shape.”

Junior Hannah Santora, who leads the pitching staff with a 0.79 ERA, and senior Andrea Nicholson, with an ERA of 1.06, helped GVSU maintain its lead in both of Sunday’s games.

During game one against Findlay, Nicholson retired all three of Findlay’s batters in the bottom of the fifth to preserve
GVSU’s 4-2 lead, while in game two Santora kept Findlay from scoring through the first innings, allowing only one hit during each of the Oilers’ at-bats.

As the team’s defense exploded after the early loss to Tiffin, holding most of their opponents to only one run, it was met by a solid offense as the Lakers netted a total of 44 runs over the course of six games. During game two against Wayne State, the Lakers had 16 hits and 12 runs, with senior Nellie Kosola and juniors Kaleigh Bertram and Emily Holt going 3-for-4 at the plate.

Kosola scored three runs as well as a single, double and triple. Betram notched a pair of runs and two scores, and Holt walked away from the game with two ribbies.

Wood said the leadership of upperclassmen like Santora and Nicholson has helped the team focus and achieve their record.

“We’ve got a lot of experience now,” he said. “We didn’t have any seniors last year, we have four this year, so a lot of the girls have been through this. It’s great to have a good weekend like we did, but we also know we have to keep working hard to keep this going.”

Combined with the teams’ two victories against Rochester College on Tuesday, the Lakers wrapped up the week with a 7-1 record. However, despite the momentum that had built earlier in the season, the stakes were high Friday as the Lakers faced GLIAC rivals for the first time in 2012.

“You go into conference play, you want to get off on the right foot and do well, and we ended up 5-1 this weekend
so I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Woods said, noting that their early success was an important motivating factor. “… You always have a little worry that you’re not going to come out of the gate as strong as you want, but as of this point we are right where we want to be.”

The Lakers will return to the softball diamond Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in Midland to face off in a twinbill against Northwood University.

Following Wednesday’s pair of games, the Lakers will return to Allendale for a two-day, four-game set against Ferris State University starting at 1 p.m. on Friday.

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