Winning streak ends in a heartbreaker

By Sandy Gholston

Lynsay Weaver
Ferris State University’s Lynsay Weaver tries to get an out at second base during a 1-0 second-round loss to St. Edward’s in the NCAA Division II Softball National Championships at Memorial Park in Houston. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
HOUSTON – After causing so much heartache to so many teams, during the last couple of weeks, Ferris State University finally came up on the short end of one.

The Bulldogs had been the victor in a couple of nail-biting 1-0 games, but this time Ferris was pained by a hard-to-take 1-0 defeat to 22nd-ranked St. Edward’s (53-15) in the second round of the NCAA Division II Softball National Championships. The loss bumped Ferris from the winner’s bracket as Texas-based St. Edward’s took advantage of the home cooking at the neutral site. The Texas-based school enjoyed a large fan base and ultimately delighted its portion of the crowd with a big win at Memorial Park in Houston.

The Bulldogs’ loss, their first of the NCAA Tournament, drops the team into a 12:30 p.m. loser’s bracket contest against Lock Haven – an elimination game – Friday afternoon. That contest will mark the first time Ferris has faced elimination in the NCAA Tournament (including regional play). But, it is potentially a new beginning for the Bulldogs (who dropped to 35-17 with the loss), who were party crashers of sort coming into nationals after being a sixth seed in the regional tournament and as one of only two teams not nationally ranked in the NCAA Division II Softball National Championships (Francis Marion was the other).

Holly Bruntjens
Ferris State University pitcher Holly Bruntjens fires the ball to the plate during the first inning of the Bulldogs’ 1-0 NCAA Division II Women’s Softball National Championships’ second-round loss to St. Edward’s at Memorial Park in Houston. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
In a game between two teams that appeared to be evenly matched, it was one swing of the bat that made the difference on the scoreboard as Ferris and St. Edward’s slugged it out. In the bottom of the sixth inning, SEU first baseman Stacy Giles spoiled a brilliant pitching performance from Ferris junior hurler Holly Bruntjens, who threw six strong innings, allowed only three hits, one run (earned) and struck out three. Giles drove a home-run shot –somewhere in the neighborhood of 215 feet – over the left field fence for a 1-0 lead and, ultimately, the win.

St. Edward’s pitching combination of starter Robin Becker and reliever Diana Cezeaux (who earned the win) held the Bulldogs scoreless on six hits to earn the victory. Ferris had chances to give Bruntjens a little offensive support, but could not produce. The Bulldogs stranded seven runners on base during the game – including the bases loaded in the top of the sixth.

The tournament is not over for the Bulldogs, however.

Ferris continues play in the double-elimination tournament as it faces Lock Haven at 12:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The winner moves on to a 5:30 p.m. contest later in the day against either Humboldt State or Emporia State.

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

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