Lakers battle elements, go 3-2 in four days

Brodie Orent

Despite having nearly three weeks off between its Florida trip and its first home game, the Grand Valley State softball team is showing no signs of rust offensively.

GVSU came out swinging in its home debut on Thursday, mercying Aquinas with a 9-0 victory in game one. Junior Chelsea Horvath and freshman Kaylie Rhynard both finished 3-for-3 at the plate, while freshman Teagan Shomin found success in a different manner. Shomin was hit by her seventh pitch of the year, which tied the GVSU school single-season record held by three different players.

Game two of the doubleheader didn’t go as well.

Aquinas had the bases loaded trailing with two outs in the fifth when Brooke Senkbeil doubled to right center, clearing the bases. Senkbeil was thrown out at third on the play to end the inning, but the damage was done. Aquinas had all the runs it needed to hang on for the victory.

Sophomore Jenna Lenza was able to blast two homers over the left field fence in game two, however, which were her first two of the season.

“After Florida I knew there were some things I had to work on,” Lenza said. “So I’ve been practicing those little things these past weeks and it’s paying off for me right now. For me hitting is such a reflection of confidence and once you start hitting, it’s contagious.

“I’m just trying to keep my confidence up because that’s how I am going to continue to stay successful.”

The Lakers then took a trip down to Ohio for a doubleheader against Malone on Saturday in Canton. GVSU was able to win a slugfest in game one, 12-9, for its first GLIAC victory in 2015.

Lenza stayed hot, belting her third homer of the season, while pitcher Sara Andrasik pitched 4.2 innings and gave up seven runs (six earned) on five hits with three walks. Sophomore Ellie Balbach filled in for Andrasik, giving up one earned run and no walks in 2.1 innings.

“It was hard to hit with no feeling in my hands,” Balbach said of the conditions. “But pitching wasn’t as bad as I expected. Once I got warm my body was okay, and hand warmers were a lifesaver.”

The game-time temperature was about 25 degrees at first pitch not counting the wind chill. Game two was called off.

The Lakers then traveled to North Canton, Ohio, on Sunday to face Walsh in another doubleheader.

The Cavaliers shut out GVSU, 4-0, in game one, but the Lakers bounced back in the nightcap thanks to some late-game heroics from two-sport sophomore Janae Langs. Langs provided a walk-off RBI single in the seventh to break a scoreless tie as the Lakers took home a 1-0 win.

Weather was again a factor, with game-time temperatures ranging between the high 30s and low 40s.

“It is never easy to play in cold,” said coach Dana Callihan said. “It wears on the pitchers, who struggle with grips. Mentally it is tough for everyone. (Saturday) was by far the coldest we have tried to play in but we hung in there.”

The Lakers also came home with an individual record, as Shomin was hit by a pitch again in game one. 

GVSU (16-6, 2-1 GLIAC) has Monday off, but is back at it again on Tuesday at the GVSU Softball Field against conference foe Wayne State. The games are slated for 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.