Grand Valley or not … any win is a big win nowadays

By Sandy Gholston

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – Sure, Ferris State was eager to host a doubleheader against long-time archrival Grand Valley State and, yes, the Lakers entered the twinbill ranked 15th nationally.

Amanda Harrington
Ferris State’s Amanda Harrington (left) tries to apply a tag to Grand Valley State’s Rebecca Plummer (7) during Wednesday’s Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader at the FSU Softball Field in Big Rapids.

Still, Wednesday’s 2-1 and 1-0 wins against the Lakers were important for those reasons and more. Races for the regular-season Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and spots in the regional rankings are highly-competitive right now. Ferris, however, took two major steps by sweeping nationally-ranked Grand Valley in a pair of hard-fought battles where defense and pitching ruled the day while the offense was just good enough to get the job done at the FSU Softball Field.

With the conference standings as tightly-compacted at the top as they have been, no one needed to remind Ferris head coach Keri Becker of the importance of Wednesday’s games.

“This was a much-needed sweep for us,” admitted Becker, whose Bulldogs improved to 20-11 overall and 11-3 in the GLIAC to reclaim sole possession of second place behind league leader Wayne State. “It’s always good when you can get wins over Grand Valley, with the rivalry and everything, but at this stage of the season every win is a big one in this conference and we needed to get these wins to keep pace.”

The Bulldogs used to strong pitching performances from juniors Sarah Mueller and Holly Bruntjens. Mueller earned the victory in game one as she threw all seven innings, allowed seven hits, one run (earned), walked none and struck out a pair. Perhaps most impressive of all, for Mueller, was to only surrender one run with the bases loaded in the top of the first inning with no outs. From there, the California native shut the door shut on the Lakers – with the help of a tough defense in support of her. In the nightcap, Bruntjens was on her game. She allowed just three hits with two strikeouts in seven innings against a potent Laker lineup.

The offense wasn’t as strong as it has been this spring, but it got the job done when it counted.

In the opener, Mueller batted 2-for-3 with a run driven in while Krystle Bailey, a junior catcher, was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Both runs were scored in the bottom of the third as Ferris took the lead for good. In game two, Ferris busted up a scoreless tie in the fifth as Bruntjens was credited with an RBI on a groundout to second that plated junior shortstop McKenzie West for the game’s only run.

When it was all over, after Bruntjens and the defense held strong in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs finally were able to exhale.

“It feels good for us coming off a tough weekend (GLIAC splits at Findlay and Ashland) we had in Ohio to be able to get two wins like this … especially against Grand Valley,” said Ferris senior third baseman Katie Kraai, who had two strong defensive games at third base. “Our defense stepped up and our pitching was really good. We didn’t score as many runs as we would have liked to, but we got what we needed to get the wins and that is what was most important.”

If you have any questions, ideas or comments feel free to contact Sandy Gholston at sgholston2@netzero.com

FSU Home Sports Softball Search