Fueled by solid pitching, GVSU softball picks up 10 more wins over spring break

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Jessica Ramos (16) prepares to pull in a pitch during the game vs. Lewis on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Jessica Ramos (16) prepares to pull in a pitch during the game vs. Lewis on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

Kellen Voss

The week off for spring break was more than eventful for the Grand Valley State softball team, as they went 10-2 in their road trip to Clermont, Florida. With the wins, the Lakers improved their overall record to 13-5 as they are in the midst of a five-game winning streak.

The phenomenal pitching all week was the main ingredient in GVSU’s successful recipe, as they only gave up three runs or fewer in 11 of the 12 games.

The elite pitching was highlighted by five shutouts and two no-hitters, one from Allie Grys against Urbana and a perfect game from Allison Lipovsky against Notre Dame College of Ohio.

Coach Dana Callihan was very impressed with the team’s hot start and didn’t see many things her team needed to improve.

“We really started meshing pretty well over the break,” Callihan said. “I thought our bats were a little sluggish at the start, but for the most part, we were doing what we needed to do, and I’m really happy with how our team played.”

Any baseball or softball fan knows that perfect games aren’t a common thing, so it’s quite impressive when they happen. This was exactly the case Monday, March 5, when Lipovsky threw 14 strikeouts over seven spectacular innings to throw a perfect game for the Lakers.

“The atmosphere was fantastic, and I couldn’t ask for more from my teammates,” Lipovsky said. “Everybody was cheering me on. We made adjustments as a team, and lots of communication on and off the field with my teammates played a key role.”

Every superstitious fan knows that when a pitcher is having a dominate performance like this, it is not talked about during the game to allow the pitcher to relax and stay calm.

“You don’t do anything to mess with her mentality, so we just let her be alone, and we didn’t even talk about it after the game with the team,” Callihan said. “Our goal is always just to get the win, and if there is a perfect game, so be it, but as long as we get the win, that’s all we care about.”

When asked about the game, Callihan also brought up the fact that this perfect game was a team effort. 

“We knew (Lipovsky) was throwing well, but at the same time, she was throwing well all week, so we didn’t even realize just how good she was playing,” Callihan said. “We did a great job throwing the ball down there, but our catchers also called great games, the defense worked well behind the mound and we got the bats going when we needed it. So, it was a true team effort.”

Throughout the game, Lipovsky was so locked in that she didn’t even realize which inning they were in as the game continued on.

“I get myself in the mental state I need to be in, and we go out there; the only things I know are the batter I’m facing and what number in the order they are,” Lipovsky said. “I didn’t know I threw a perfect game until coach told me after the game. I don’t focus on how well I’m doing; I just try to get the job done.”

Long road trips like this one are a great way to form bonds and create chemistry among a team, and Callihan thought her already-close team only got closer on the trip.

“Going on the road together, we spent so much time with each other, and we’re getting to know each other a little better,” Callihan said. “We’ve been together for literally six months already, but our good team chemistry got even better in Florida.”

Lipovsky also believes the team has great chemistry, as evidenced by the fact that her favorite memory from the trip was playing music and dancing in the dugout with her teammates before their games.

“The chemistry we have this year is a lot different than what we’ve had in years past,” Lipovsky said. “Everyone gets along and understands their position, where they need to be and their role on the team, and that’s huge.”

After a solid stretch like this one, it’s safe to say this team is heading into the season with high expectations, but Callihan is not letting this team get distracted, as their mindset is simply to take things day to day.

“We try not to focus on the big picture too much. We take every pitch one at a time, and that’s what we’re focusing on,” Callihan said. “We know what we’re capable of, and we got a bit of a target on our back in the conference, so we got to be ready for that every pitch.”

Despite this mindset, there is no shortage of confidence among the players on this team. When it comes to looking toward the future, Lipovsky believes it will be very bright.

“This is one of the best teams I’ve ever played on, and I think as long as we don’t beat ourselves, we can go all the way,” Lipovsky said. “Our staff is one of the best in the country, we have some of the most disciplined hitters and we work really hard on defense. When we play the game as best as we can play, there’s no team better than us.”

After the spring break trip, the Lakers improve to 13-5 and currently sit behind only Davenport for second place in the GLIAC. They open conference play with a doubleheader against Ferris State on Wednesday, March 21, at the GVSU softball field. The games are at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.