Amanda Jager
Ferris State's Amanda Jager puts a tag on a C.W. Post baserunner during Wednesday's game at the Osceola County Softball Complex as part of the Rebel Spring Game. (Photo by Sandy Gholston).

A Lesson Learned By The 2008 Bulldog Softball Team

By Sandy Gholston

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A rare tripleheader for the Ferris State softball team began with promise, in Clermont, Fla., but ended as a nightmare of sorts on Wednesday afternoon in Kissimmee, Fla.

Ferris’ morning began with a trip to the National Training Center for an added game against American International College in Clermont. After beginning with a 3-0 lead, Ferris’ nightmare began as AIC rallied to tie the game in the seventh inning to force some extra softball. After the Bulldogs were held scoreless, in their half of the eighth, with International Tiebreaker rules in effect, American International ended the contest as Kellie Brown blasted a 2-run walk-off homer for a 5-3 victory. The day was only in its infancy, however. Still, a return to Osceola County Softball Complex proved little better for the Bulldogs as the team was blanked 9-0 in five innings, by C.W. Post, before Ferris fell by a 7-1 score to Indianapolis.

Ferris’ 0-3 day dropped the team’s record to 4-5 on the season and left the squad searching for answers to reverse what began as a promising season that included a national ranking. That ranking is gone, but the Bulldogs still have a whole lot of softball left to be played – in Florida and beyond. The quest for answers continues for a talent-rich Ferris team that ended Wednesday under the lights learning about how fun softball can be from a group of young girls playing on Thacker Field near Osceola High School in Kissimmee – the place where Ferris’ softball trip started on Friday.

A long day of softball ended with the Bulldogs attempting to reconnect with their roots – to learn how fun a game softball can be for young girls they spent time into the darkness under the lights after a three-loss day of college softball action.

There was a lesson to be learned. Sure, college softball is in many ways a high-stakes business for schools, coaches, players and parents. But, in a lot of other ways, it’s still that once-innocent and fun game so many people fall in love with at a young age. Wednesday night was about rediscovering the roots of what it means to participate in sports and appreciating the privilege of what it means to compete as a college softball player. Sure, it’s a business of sorts with money, scholarships and pressure. But, as head coach Keri Becker attempted to show as she put her kids in the company of a much younger group of girls, the high-pressure world of college softball does not have to be a fun-free activity.

Wednesday’s opening loss to American International spoiled a solid pitching effort by Amanda Jager, who threw eight innings, allowed five hits, five runs (four earned), walked two and struck out three. The big hit of the contest was Brown’s 2-run blast that ended the game in the eighth. It also spoiled her day at the plate as she had two hits in three trips as did Sarah Mueller, who also scored two runs scored, batted in two runs, hit a triple and belted a home run.

After that, however, Ferris’ offense dried up in a major way. Amanda Harrington had the lone hit in the Bulldogs 9-0 loss to C.W. Post while Katie Kraai and Harrington had the only two hits in the 7-1 loss to Indianapolis to wrap up the day.

A tripleheader that began with promise ended in heartache.

But, the Bulldogs can learn from the young girls they had a chance to spend time with following their day of disappointment on the diamond: Softball is highly competitive, but it’s also a game – a game that can still be fun.

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