Women’s Softball preps for spring ball

Josh Carlson, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University women’s softball team is ready to return to the field for the spring 2022 season after going 1-2 at the College World Series last year.

This season starts with some question marks for the team, starting with the task of replacing graduate infielder Nikoma Holmen. Holmen’s role on the team brought huge production, which makes this season’s roster even more difficult to reorganize.

“There’s no replacing a player like her,” said coach Dana Callihan. “We’re still playing with that a little bit; it’s a pretty big hole in the lineup that we need to figure out. We have a different dynamic and it may not be the same type of offense that we have had last year. We had Nikoma in that four-spot for four years and now I have to play with some different things. You don’t replace a player like Nikoma; you just hope you can get someone else that can fill that role and produce.”

The Lakers will have an abundance of options to try and help fill the production they lost with the graduation of Holmen. The Lakers are returning all but three players this year and have an addition of four freshmen.

“The first ten or twelve games we will be playing with the lineup,” Callihan said. “Some of it will depend on who is hot. We have a lot of options and a lot of speed. So this year could be a completely different look than last year.”

This year, a bright spot heading into the season is the return of star redshirt junior pitcher Hannah Beatus. Beatus returns after a season where she was named GLIAC pitcher of the year and given unanimous All-American honors. Beatus pitched 28 complete games with 25 wins and a 1.33 ERA and a no-hitter in the GLIAC regular-season championship to win the tournament.

Callihan says the return of Beatus is invaluable to the team of what she brings in leadership on and off the field.

“Her leadership by far, and obviously her maturity, are very beneficial,” Callihan said. “She is not afraid to point out things and that is going to make the team better. Her work ethic is just phenomenal day-in and day-out, and her attitude is always positive. Between Hannah, Taylor Reigor and Bailey Thatcher, they’re hungry, and they’re giving everything they got knowing that this isn’t going to last forever.”

After returning from a season that many only hope to achieve, Beatus knows what the team can achieve and is doing what she can to make sure the team is ready to take on this upcoming season.

“I think a focus for the team and me personally is knowing and trusting that the skill is there,” Beatus said. “At this point it’s more of an emphasis on the mental aspect, the will of wanting to win the game and the will of working hard in practice. There are things you reflect on from last year — yes, you had such a successful season, but there are improvements that I’ve learned from last year.”

The team starts this season unanimously voted to win the GLIAC and is set to play their first games in the Lewis Dome tournament in Illinois and will then travel to Florida for their spring trip.

Callihan says their focus isn’t on the location of where they’re playing, whether they’re on grass or if it’s dirt or indoors on turf. Instead, the team focuses on playing their best ball.

“We go about it by a games approach,” Callihan said. “Even if you are on grass or dirt, it’s all different. We know it and these players have grown up with it; it’s just a matter of trying to get a practice on the dirt when we get down to Florida. We don’t make a big deal out of it; this is what we got. Whether we’re on turf or whether we’re on dirt, it doesn’t matter, we just have to go out and play our game.”