Ferris inches one step closer to regional title

By Sandy Gholston

Katie Kraai
Ferris State University’s Katie Kraai (19) approaches home plate as she and her teammates prepare to celebrate her 2-run homer in the third inning of the 2008 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Edwardsville, Ill. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Ferris State University senior third baseman Katie Kraai’s belief in her teammates has never wavered, but even she continues to be amazed by the toughness and resiliency of her Bulldogs through a season that has featured no shortage of ups and downs.

Kraai, a native of Zeeland, belted a huge 2-run homer to lead Ferris to a 4-0 victory over nationally-ranked Wayne State in the 2008 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Softball Tournament at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville’s Cougar Field. The win improves Ferris to 33-16 this spring, but more importantly pushes Kraai and her teammates a step closer to a regional championship – which would be the first for the school since 1999. Although there remains plenty of work still to be done, Ferris’ dreams now are tantalizingly close to becoming reality as the stage is set for Sunday’s championship round against the winner between Wayne and SIUE.

“I knew we could play the way we are playing, but it definitely takes a lot of work to get to this point and we have been working hard and we have really come together as a team to make this happen,” said Kraai, who batted 2-for-2 with the home run and the two RBI. “It feels great to be playing the way we are right now, but we still have some work to do here at the (regional tournament).”

Ferris junior pitcher Holly Bruntjens (14-8), who kept the Warriors’ hitters off balance all game in holding them to four hits, earned the victory as she tossed seven innings and struck out three.

Amanda Jager
Ferris State University’s Amanda Jager tries to scoop up a groundball during the 2008 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament game in Edwardsville, Ill. against Wayne State. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
Wayne State’s ace pitcher Molly Yetman – one of the nation’s premier hurlers – tossed the first 1.1 innings before she left the game with what appeared an injury she could no longer pitch through. The Warriors other pitcher, Nicole Abel, relieved her but gave up four runs on six hits (two earned) with two strikeouts.

“We have started to play more as a team and not getting too down with the lows and not getting too caught up in the highs,” Kraai said.

Ferris now is within one win of a regional championship as they await the rain-suspended game between Wayne and SIUE. The Cougars were leading the game 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. That game is scheduled to resume at noon with the winner to face Ferris afterward. Game 15 of the tournament, if necessary, would be played afterward.

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

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