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GVL / Robert Mathews
Junio Briauna Taylor running towards first base after a line drive against UWP.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews Junio Briauna Taylor running towards first base after a line drive against UWP.

Pete Barrows

In the 17 games and 119 innings played prior to this season, the Grand Valley State University softball team has scored 98 runs – an average of 5.76 runs per game and .82 runs per inning played, both above average marks. In the fourth inning of the second of two games played Wednesday night, the Lakers 18th game of the year, GVSU furiously broke open which at the time was a 1-0 game. 10 hits, 16 runs and three outs later, the contest against Wisconsin-Parkside ended in a 16-1 mercy.

GVSU head coach Doug Woods, now in his 23rd season, has watched over 1200 games from the dugout during his tenure. There isn’t much Woods hasn’t seen, but even he was impressed with the one-inning offensive onslaught wrought by his girls.

“I don’t think we’ve ever done that before in one inning,” Woods said. “It’s tough to do. I think everyone jumped through on that one.”

Perhaps even more impressive than the 16 runs themselves was how they were ascertained. Of those 10-hits, senior Katie Martin’s double was the only one that garnered an extra base. As the Lakers cycled through the lineup (eight GVSU student-athletes had at least one hit), it was a string of singles that allowed them to construct the lead.

“We were ready to get the game done with I guess,” said senior Emily Jones. “That was one of those ones where you keep looking at the scoreboard ‘oh, we have 16 now? We just had zero.’”

Worth little on their own, singles when accumulated can have value. It’s not only how many, but also the timing of when hits are struck that make them valuable.

“We’re hitting very well and at the right time,” said freshman Chelsea Horvath. “We keep getting clutch hits.”

The first game of the doubleheader against Wisconsin-Parkside didn’t play out quite as emphatically, as GVSU was forced to play an entire seven innings, but the Laker squad did enjoy being back at home (for the first time this season), back outside and back to playing (and winning) ball the way they know how to play.

“It’s been a while – finally got back on the field yesterday,” Horvath said. “We were down in the first game, but it didn’t ever feel like we were going to lose. We don’t like to lose.”

After going down 3-2 in the top of the second, GVSU battled to tie the game in the fourth, when senior Nellie Kosola batted in junior Briauna Taylor. They went ahead following seniors Kayleigh Bertram RBI/Emily Jones scored run combination in the bottom of the fifth. It wasn’t a flashy outing, but the Lakers, who have firm grasp of both substance and style, aptly demonstrated that there’s more than one way to win a ball game.

“It’s nice to get to play on your field,” Woods said. “Luckily our field’s pretty dang good. We’re one of the few that played today – everyone else was rained-out, snowed-out or weathered-out. Defensively, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we found a way to win. If you talk to Hannah (Santora), that wasn’t one of her best efforts pitching, but she got it done.”

With four more games yet to be played this week, in-conference doubleheaders Friday against Walsh University and Saturday against Lake Erie University, the Lakers are playing (and swinging) with confidence. Another 16-run burst shouldn’t be expected again anytime soon, but with a team-first, communicative and chemistry-based concept in place, it’s likely that GVSU will again put winning methods on display.

“I think it’s natural,” Jones said. “We kind of just all get along anyways so it shows on the field.”
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