Ferris State Shuts Out SIUE; Wins Regional Championship

By Sandy Gholston

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Winning has fast made true believers out of the Ferris State University softball players, coaches, families, fans and opponents.

Entering last week, the Bulldogs had a feeling all roads leading to the 2008 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Championship passed through defending regional and national champion Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville – literally and figuratively. With that in mind, Ferris proved dog tough with its pitching and defense, pushed just enough offense across the plate and earned the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Championship trophy with a 1-0 win over SIUE on its home turf, Cougar Field, Sunday afternoon.

Katie Kraai
Ferris State senior Katie Kraai holds up the 2008 NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Championship trophy on Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field in Edwardsville, Ill. The Bulldogs defeated Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 1-0 to win the regional championship. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
To call it an emotional win would be an understatement.

“It means everything to me and it means everything to this team to be able to come here and win a regional championship against the great teams we had to beat to get this,” said junior Sarah Mueller, who was 1-for-3 with a run scored in the championship game. “This is something we wanted so badly and it feels so good to be able to do it the way we did it. … It’s truly what we wanted.”

Mueller’s statement was echoed by sophomore second baseman Amanda Harrington, “This is a big win for us and it puts us one step closer to achieving an even bigger goal.”

Ferris (34-16) got the job done sparked by junior pitcher Holly Bruntjens’ brilliant effort in the circle as she threw all seven innings, allowed just four hits, three walks and struck out six to improve her personal record to 15-8 this spring. Offensively, the Bulldogs claimed the lead right off the bat, in the first inning, as senior third baseman Katie Kraai’s sacrifice fly scored junior Sarah Mueller who reached on a single.

Facing one of the nation’s top pitchers, SIUE’s Kaitlin Colosimo, the Bulldogs figured runs would be difficult to come by and that certainly proved true. The ace of the Cougars’ staff allowed just five hits, one run (earned), three walks as she fanned five.

Unlike Colosimo, Bruntjens’ got just a little more help.

The combination of Bruntjens’ pitching and the Bulldogs’ defense shut down a potent SIUE lineup to turn back a couple of threats and preserve the team’s perfect streak of holding opponents scoreless in the regional through 36 innings. Ferris defeated Saginaw Valley State, 1-0; Lewis, 1-0 in 15 innings; Wayne State, 4-0; and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 1-0.

“It’s almost surreal to be in this position and I’m so very proud of these players for what they’ve been able to accomplish,” said Ferris head coach Keri Becker, who has led the program to three regional championships (1998, 1999 and 2008). “These players have played well throughout the week, they’ve battled weather elements and to be able to play at this kind of level throughout this tournament against this kind of competition says a lot about these players.”

Now, it’s onward to Houston, Texas where the Bulldogs begin competition in the NCAA Division II Softball National Championships. Ferris’ quest for a championship begins as it takes on Francis Marion in the first round of action on Wednesday.

“The great thing about being in this position is where seeing where our hard work has paid off and we want to keep it going,” said junior first baseman Amanda Jager.

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

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