Krystle Bailey
Ferris State catcher Krystle Bailey tries to gain control of the ball during Friday’s game against Wisconsin-Parkside at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photo by Sandy Gholston)

Early spring schedule is rich with opportunities for Bulldogs

By Sandy Gholston

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Once again, the wire-to-wire race for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference softball championship is shaping up as a hard-fought one.

If nothing else, the annual Rebel Spring Games has been an opportunity for Ferris State University to take an early peek at the competition in the GLIAC this spring. While there is, of course, snow and chilly weather in the upper Midwest that will wreak the usual havoc on the early portion of the season, that has not prevented the usual travel to Florida to sneak in some of those early games prior to the start of the league schedule. After a hot start this spring, Ferris has stumbled through some rough times with losses in six of their last seven games. The latest setbacks have come at the hands of regional rival Wisconsin-Parkside (5-2) and Central Missouri (3-0), both on Friday, at Fortune Road Complex during the Rebel Spring Games.

In spite of the current hard times, Ferris expects to figure prominently in the mix this season for a GLIAC championship – and hopefully more. The Bulldogs are confident the talent on their current 14-player roster will pay dividends by the time everything is said, done and written. Ferris has been working to plug players into different positions with, for example, Amanda Jager now playing regularly at first base along with some mixing and matching in the outfield with Holly Bruntjens, Sarah Mueller, Colleen Roney, Rachel Wade and Lynsay Weaver among others in that group. One of the issues for the Bulldogs will be to maintain focus from start to finish this spring and begin to realize the potential that is clearly evident.

The GLIAC already is looking up for grabs this season as the Bulldogs already have had a chance to watch a number of rival teams they will see upon their return to Michigan. Saginaw Valley State suddenly is nationally ranked and playing with confidence under a first-year head coach. Grand Valley State remains strong with some capable hitters at the top of its lineup while Wayne State and Ashland are likely to figure prominently in the league, region and national pictures. Northwood is going to be a solid as will Gannon and others. The bottom line in the GLIAC remains pretty simple: No easy days no matter who you play in a league with so many talented and well-coached softball teams.

In addition to the league games, the Bulldogs also have to be conscious of their regional foes as well. Already in Florida, the Bulldogs have begun to make their case for regional rankings with some solid efforts against some in-region opponents (including wins over Southern Indiana, St. Joseph’s and Northern Kentucky). But, three of the team’s losses have been to regional opponents (a painfully-frustrating one-run, extra-inning loss to defending NCAA Division II national champion Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, one to Indianapolis and the latest on Friday to Wisconsin-Parkside).

Ferris has its work cut out for it this spring.

So, whether it’s a regional opponent or a conference opponent – anticipate some big-time competition.

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