Nationally-Ranked Bulldogs Begin Season In Florida; Home Opener Set For March 26

Katie Kraai
Senior third baseman Katie Kraai and the Bulldogs to play 16 home games in 2008.
The 2008 schedule for the 25th nationally-ranked Ferris State University softball team presents a challenging one as the Bulldogs will face four top 25 preseason teams along with two other opponents who received votes in the 2008 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Preseason Top-25 Poll.

This spring's 48-game regular-season slate features two tournaments, 16 home games, and a non-conference matchup against 2007 NCAA Division II National Champion Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on March 13 in Florida.

The Bulldogs, under 11th-year head coach Keri Becker, will embark on their 36th season of intercollegiate competition this spring. The 2008 squad starts the campaign by making an annual appearance at the Florida Rebel Spring Tournament (March 8-15) in Kissimmee, Fla. Besides the matchup with Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Ferris State will go up against three other nationally noted teams in Shippensburg, Pa. (March 9), Minnesota State (March 9), and eighth-ranked C.W. Post, N.Y. (March 12) during its 15-game schedule in the Sunshine State.

Following the contests in Florida, the Bulldogs will make a return appearance in the Wayne State Invitational (March 22) at Detroit, Mich. FSU will square off against three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opponents - Hillsdale, Lake Superior State, and host Wayne State in the single-day non-league tournament.

Ferris State plays its home opener on March 26 against Aquinas in a non-conference doubleheader at the FSU Varsity Softball Field in Big Rapids, Mich., with the opening contest slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). The twinbill represents the start of a six-game homestand for the Bulldogs. Along with Aquinas, the Bulldogs will have non-league matchups with Cornerstone (April 7) and Wayne State (April 9) at home and road encounters against Tiffin (April 11) and Northwood (April 22).

FSU opens conference action at home with back-to-back doubleheaders against Gannon (March 29) and Mercyhurst (March 30). Gannon and Wayne State both earned a share of the GLIAC Championship title a season ago. Gannon and Mercyhurst, a pair of Pennsylvania schools, will be making their final appearance this upcoming season as GLIAC-member institutions.

The 20-game GLIAC schedule is highlighted by home tilts versus 13th-ranked Grand Valley State (April 16), 20th-ranked Wayne State (April 25), and Hillsdale (April 26) in the 2008 regular-season finale. The road portion includes trips to Northwood (April 5), Saginaw Valley State (April 6), Findlay (April 12), Ashland (April 13), and Lake Superior State (April 19).

Holly Bruntjens
Junior pitcher Holly Bruntjens and Ferris State will face four top 25 nationally-ranked teams this season, highlighted by a tilt against number-one and defending national champion Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

The 2008 GLIAC Softball Tournament will be held May 2-4 at the Emerson Park Softball Complex in Midland, Mich., for the fourth consecutive year. The top eight teams with the best regular-season conference records qualify for the double-elimination league tourney.

NCAA-II Tournament play begins May 8-12 with eight-team regionals at eight different sites. The 27th annual NCAA-II National Championship Tourney will be conducted May 14-17 in Houston, Texas, as part of the Division II Spring Championships Festival.

"We are thoroughly excited about the upcoming season," said Becker, the winningest coach in Ferris State softball history. "I've always strived to put together a highly-competitive schedule for my teams and this season is no different. I'm excited about the challenge which lies ahead for us and we have a high number of quality home games this spring which our fans should come out to see.

"I believe this year's team can do something special. I challenged them at the first practice to make the 2008 team the winningest team in school history," added Becker.

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