Kraai Sets Record; Ferris State Splits With National Power Wayne State

By Sandy Gholston

BIG RAPIDS – Put the two top softball teams in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on the same field and it’s only natural to expect to hard-fought battles.

And, that was precisely the way things played out as the second-place Bulldogs had a shot to wrest the league’s first-place spot from the visiting Warriors in a doubleheader Friday at the FSU Softball Field. The fans who survived some early-afternoon rain and thunderstorms were treated to a pair of classics. Wayne State (28-13 overall, 15-3 in the GLIAC) won the opener 1-0. Ferris (25-14, 14-4 in the GLIAC) rebounded, in a major way, to salvage a split with a 1-0, 10-inning victory in game two.

For the two rivals, plenty was at stake as the top spot in the league was hanging in the balance as well as positioning in the regional rankings. The Bulldogs, winners of eight of their last 10 games to gain recognition in the recently-released National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Top 25 Softball Poll, wanted to keep the good times rolling against a quality opponent.

McKenzie West
Ferris State’s McKenzie West gets an out at second base against Wayne State’s Lindsey Perry during Friday’s Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)

“We knew we were going to be in for two tough games and because of that we knew we were going to have to come out ready to play and ready to try and win some tough ones,” said senior third baseman Katie Kraai, who became Ferris’ career leader in doubles, with 44 (Anne Bentley had 43 from 1997-2000), as she smacked one in the opener against the Warriors. “We had a tough loss in the first game, but that was when we knew we had to come back and do whatever we had to do to get that second one and we did it. It wasn’t easy, but we managed to do it and we needed to do it.”

Facing the 19th-ranked team in the nation (Wayne State) and one of the best pitchers in the country (Molly Yetman) meant Ferris had its work cut out.

“There are not too many teams I would honestly say I would be happy to walk away with a split against, but this is a very good team we played and I’m happy to be able to get a split. … It was big for us to get that second win,” Ferris head coach Keri Becker said as she got a big win in the circle from pitcher Holly Bruntjens (10-7) who surrendered four hits, two walks and struck out five. Kraai’s 10th-inning RBI single up the middle was the difference in the game. “I told them after the first game I didn’t want them to feel deflated. It was the opposite. I wanted them to feel excited and that was how I wanted them to come back and I think they did that.”

Wayne began Friday with a one-game lead over the Bulldogs in the GLIAC standings and ended the day with a one-game advantage after the split.

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

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