Pete Barrows

Sports Journalist —

Archive for May 2013

Lockhart captures fifth national title, GVSU women finish nationals third while the men finish 27th

leave a comment »

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

Few athletes are able to finish their careers on top. But for senior Grand Valley State University thrower Sam Lockhart, there would not be a more fitting way for her to end her career than as one of the most accomplished field athletes of all-time.

“Samantha Lockhart is a truly exceptional athlete and performer,” said GVSU distance coach Nick Polk. “She is irreplaceable and invaluable to the team. We will challenge an entire team of women next year to help replace what one athlete had done for us this weekend.”

Senior thrower Sam Lockhart poses with her coach Blaine Maag while holding her individual national championship title Courtesy of Jamie Smith

Senior thrower Sam Lockhart poses with her coach Blaine Maag while holding her individual national championship title
Courtesy of Jamie Smith

For what would be the final time of her career, Lockhart stepped into the throwers circle Saturday afternoon and positioned herself to launch. This was to be her fifth throw in the shot put competition, although Lockhart and the rest of the field could have just as easily spared themselves a few extra tosses as any of Lockhart’s five throws in the event would have won the individual championship.
Uncorking a Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl facility record 16.75-meter bomb (54 feet 11.5 inches), just two inches shy of her own school record, Lockhart concluded her Laker career a champion, a day after besting the field by over 19-feet in the discus with a facility and meet record throw of 58.08-meters (190’7’’).

“As I watched her take her last shot put in a GV uniform, I got very emotional knowing I watched one of the greatest (and most humble) throwers in Division II history finish her career,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “I am so thankful we had the opportunity to have her as a part of our track and field program/family.”

Lockhart will retire with five individual national titles (three indoor, two outdoor), 13 career All-American honors (seven outdoor, six indoor) and a fistful of records concluding her four years as a Laker. What she did not retire with was a fifth team national title, where she will stand pat at as a member of two outdoor and indoor team championships apiece.

The lady Lakers finished in third place behind the Academy of the Arts and Johnson C. Smith University after tallying 51 points over three days of competition in Pueblo, Colo., putting a succinct, albeit slightly unsatisfying wrap without a glossy bow to their 2013 season.

“We are happy with our third place finish but not content,” Polk said. “The disappointing part of the meet is not the overall place, but we definitely had spots were we just came up short. I’m sure all of the girls would have liked to perform a little better than they did across the board and that would have put us right at the top.”

Accompanying Lockhart on the All-American honor board, bestowed upon each top-eight finisher in every event, on the women’s side were junior Kristen Hixson, who finished third in the pole vault after clearing a height of 4.2-meters (13’9.25’’), freshman Laura Schroeder and junior Alyssa Zokoe, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively in the hammer throw with matching throws of 55.2-meters (181’1’’), junior Courtney Brewis, who placed seventh in the 10,000-meter run with a gusty 36 minute 43.94 second time, junior Hannah Osborn, who finished sixth in the steeplechase with a time of 11:03.13 and junior Kalena Franklin, who contributed her fourth career All-American performance and first in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing fourth in the field with a time of 13.62 seconds.2013 womens t&f championship

Perhaps more impressive than any individual performance were the efforts of the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays, both of which merited All-American recognition and shattered GVSU school-records.

The 4×100 relay team, composed of sophomores Carly Scott and Brittney Banister and juniors Kayla Addison and Michaela Lewis, finished sixth with a time of 45.58 seconds while the 4×400 group, which included freshman Brittany Terry, sophomores Andrea Kober and Bannister and junior Franklin, closed out the final event of the third and final day of competition with a dramatic fifth-place finish, crossing the line in a time of 3:41.48.

“We always feel if we make the meet, we will do well and this was a great weekend for our relays,” Baltes said. “This was the first time in many years that our women made the 4×100 and the first time we ever scored. It’s always great to end the season on a high note, as both squads did.”

The GVSU men, who only managed to net 10 total points and finished the meet in 27th place, displayed several solid performances throughout the competition, but struggled in the Colorado thin air to breath life into a signature, breakout performance. They did however refuse to leave Pueblo without a couple of All-Americans to call their own.

Wasting no time, freshman Darien Thornton scored on his first far-reaching attempt in the first event of the competition, the men’s hammer throw, placing third with a launch of 63-meters (206’8’’). Sophomore Trent Chappell finished fifth in the men’s high jump after clearing a height of 2.15 meters (7’0.5’’), just 1.5 inches of his own school record.

Coming in just under the All-American bar were freshman Sean Wells, who finished 10th in the field despite pacing a new GVSU school-record in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.08 seconds, sophomore Bret Myers, who finished ninth in the pole vault after clearing a height of 4.95-meters (16’2.75’’) and senior Matt Armstrong, who finished 10th in the men’s shot put with a throw of 16.97-meters (55’8.25’’).

“Our men had some things just not go our way – we had a handful of kids just miss making finals or scoring,” Baltes said. “The altitude was tough on our distance crew which was the first time for all of them competing in.”

Replacing a Sam Lockhart as a teammate, a competitor and as an entity will be a near impossible task.

What has distinguished GVSU as one of the top athletic institutions in the nation however is its consummate ability to move on to the next season. With young talent waiting in the wings and models like Lockhart and the rest of the senior class to exemplify, there’s no telling to what lofty reaches the next crop of GVSU athletic fables might climb.

Courtesy of Jamie Smith

Courtesy of Jamie Smith

“We were pleased and proud of how our kids competed, but are confident our returners will come back hungry to compete at an even higher level come next year,” Baltes said.

To read the original post “Lockhart captures fifth national title”, click here at the Lanthorn online.


Written by peterdbarrows

May 29, 2013 at 1:44 am

GVSU’s softball World Series run ends in the semifinals

leave a comment »

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University softball has come a long way since they finished 22-24 in 2010. In the 172 games GVSU has played since, the Lakers have won 132 – a .767 three-year win percentage, packing on a plethora of conference titles, tournament wins, broken records and individual accolades along the way.

After traveling over 650 miles to Salem, Va. this past weekend to participate in the schools first Division II college softball World Series tournament since 2002, the cross country journey four years in the making sputtered to a close – one game short of the desired destination.

“We’re a little bit disappointed, but you have to remember how far you came, how far our team has come,” said senior Katie Martin, who at last Wednesday’s World Series banquet became the first student-athlete in the history of the award to twice be named the Daktronics National Player of the Year. “This is the first time we’ve made it to the World Series in a long time. It’s a great accomplishment, definitely, and we’re all very proud and very happy to have been here and to have had this opportunity. Just sad to see the end.”

GVSU softball with their national team trophies Courtesy of DJ Foster

GVSU softball with their national team trophies
Courtesy of DJ Foster

All good things must come to an end eventually and this time around, the Lakers didn’t get the conclusion they’d hoped for. The final haul of their trip didn’t get off to the smooth start they’d hoped for, either.

Opening World Series play against unranked Kutztown University Thursday afternoon, GVSUstruggled to acclimate to the stage – losing to the Golden Bears 3-1. The Lakers outhit Kutztown 6-5 as Martin recorded her 20th home run of the season, but a couple of uncharacteristic errors allowed Kutztown to score three unearned runs.

“We were a little nervous,” Martin said. “I think the first day we didn’t play the way we normally play. I couldn’t really name a reason why, but it just kind of happened – every team has their days.”

The second act, a do-or-die death defying high dive performance, revived the Lakers collective spirit and kept their World Series hopes alive in the losers bracket.

An 8-4 victory over No. 6 Texas Woman’s University was spurred on by a four-run rally in the top of the fifth in which Martin scored junior Briauna Taylor and senior Nellie Kosola on a two-run double before senior Emily Jones slugged in a quadruple.

Freshman Sara Andrasik sealed the deal in the seventh, closing down and cleaning up shop after entering the game with no-outs and bases loaded, advancing the Lakers to another elimination face-off.

Friday evening, Senior Maggie Kopas started the scoring off in the Lakers second game of the day, this time against No. 27 Molloy, homering to left center in the top of the second. It wasn’t until another four-run fifth inning in which junior Miranda Clearly catapulted a three-run long ball scoring seniors Jones and Martin that the Lakers were able to safely put the Molloy Lions back in their cage by a 5-2 margin.

Courtesy of DJ Foster

Courtesy of DJ Foster

“We came back yesterday (Saturday) and proved we were meant to be here,” Martin said. “We hit, we fielded, we pitched – everything was there.”

For only the second time in school history, GVSU was one of the final four teams left playing in Division II collegiate softball. As it’s prone to do, history was about to repeat itself once more.

A rematch against Kutztown unfolded Sunday afternoon with a trip to the title game against No. 19 Central Oklahoma University on the line.

GVSU came out to a 1-0 lead in the first after Kosola scored on a wild pitch, but the Laker lead was to be short lived. The Golden Bears, who batted on the right side of a frequently called pitching infraction against GVSU starting pitcher senior Hannah Santora, who throws with a distinctive hop, scored multiple runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings, cruising to a 7-2 victory.

“We ran into some umpire situations we hadn’t had all year,” said GVSU head coach Doc Woods. “They called illegal pitches on Hannah (Santora) that she had not been called on all year, at least four or five, and it always seemed to be when an out was called. That really hurt us big time. Runners move up, batter goes back. We’re not allowed to talk about umpires and all that, but that situation threw us sort of an unplayable lie.”

The rules state that a pitchers pivot foot must begin in contact with the pitcher’s plate and must remain in contact with the ground and drag until the non-pivot foot touches the ground. The execution of the call however couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the Lakers.

“Some of the games I feel like we game them 25 outs,” Martin said. “They’d get an extra four outs because someone would hit the ball in the air, we’d catch it – that’s an out usually – but they’d call an illegal pitch. Why they decided to call it this weekend and not the whole season, I don’t know. I hate to blame it on anything, but I think the umps really affected us. Once you get down, you’re out and it’s really tough to pick yourself back up after that. It just feels like everything’s against you.”

The Lakers historic 2013 season came to a close with a final record of 46-9, but not before they managed to squeeze in a few last minute distinctions.

Martin, who wrapped up her storied career breaking two more records over the course of the tournament – career RBI (240) and walks (112), giving her eight GVSU career records in total, was named to the 2013 All-Tournament Team with senior teammate Kayleigh Bertram and to the Daktronics All-American first team for the second time in her career, as Kosola and Andrasik earned Dakronics All-American honorable mention laurels.

It’s never easy pulling in from the end of the road, but in softball as in life, it’s the trip, the innings played in between – not the ultimate arrival – that holds value. And what a trip it’s been for the Lakers, who concluded their journey the No. 3 team in the nation, runners-up to the eventual runners-up Kutztown Golden Bears, who lost to Central Oklahoma 5-2 in the World Series championship. Using a record book as a makeshift scrapbook, the 2013 season that was won’t soon be forgotten.

Courtesy of DJ Foster

Courtesy of DJ Foster

“It’s been a great season,” Woods said. “Anytime you can win a Regional, Super Regional and go to the college World Series – only eight teams in Division II out of about 300 that play softball get a chance to get here – that’s pretty darn good. Any time you end on a loss, you have a down feeling, but I think that will leave and I think especially the seniors will reflect back on the memories of what an excellent year it was.”

To read the original post “GVSU softball World Series run ends in the semifinals”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

May 29, 2013 at 1:19 am

GVSU softball prepares for World Series

leave a comment »

Leaving a Legacy

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

It was a decade ago that all-everything pitcher Jenn Mackson, now a pitching coach on GVSU’s staff, patrolled the mound at Grand Valley State University, although her lore still intertwines frequently with the current mythos being dictated by Laker softball.

Senior pitcher Hannah Santora drew recollections with her 15-1 start to the season, one game short of Mackson’s 16-0 start in 2003, and Santora has put up the highest single season win total (25) since Mackson’s Denny McLain-esque program record 30-win season in 2003.

Senior Katie Martin, who is now the only GVSUplayer to ever be named an NFCA first team All-American twice and has earned All-American laurels for three straight seasons and was also named Daktronics National Player of the Year – joins former slugger Kim Biskup (2000), who’s home run record Martin surpassed this season, and Mackson as GVSU’s only three-time First Team All-American representatives in program history.

From 2001 to 2004, the Lakers went 182-33-2 (.843), winning 49 games in both 2002 and 2003, tied for the second highest win total in school history.

GVL / Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews

After an inauspicious 22-24 start to the tenure as freshman in 2010, the Lakers current senior class went on to field an 130-38 record over three seasons (152-62, .711 over four years), accumulating three Midwest Regional Tournament appearances, two visits to the Midwest Super Regional and a World Series berth along the way. GVSU’s current 44-7 mark is good for the seventh-most victories in a season in program history.

“I’m just so proud of our team and the seniors – great leadership all the way through and they’ve just been a great group to work with,” said GVSU head coach Doc Woods. “It’s exciting when you get a great group like, they get success and that just means so much.”

In 2002, the Lakers advanced to the NCAA World Series for the first time in school history and came up one win short, shutout by the St. Mary’s Rattlers in the title game. It’s an iconic team inGVSU history, but perhaps not the gold standard for much longer. The 2013 Lakers are well aware of what it takes to rewrite history and once again will receive an opportunity to extend the accomplishments and lineage of their GVSU softball predecessors.

“It was a while ago and everything’s a little bit different, but that team we had an All-American pitcher (Mackson) – we’ve got two real good pitchers right now (Sanotra and freshman Sara Andrasik),” Woods said. “We we’re a good defensive team, this team’s a good defensive team. Hitting wise we might be a little stronger with this team so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”

Eight teams made the trip out to Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va. – only one will emerge a champion. Entering the tournament on the wings of victory over the NFCA No. 1 ranked University of Indianapolis with the fewest losses of any team left playing in Division II, GVSU has a legitimate title shot and perhaps as much confidence as any Super Regional champ.

“It’s great going in knowing that we just beat the number one team in the nation and we should have some confidence from that,” Martin said. “We should feel like we can beat anyone now.”

GVSU has only played the other seven remaining tournament teams a combined six times with a cumulative 3-3 record in those meetings and has never before faced Armstrong Atlantic State, Central Oklahoma, Humboldt State, or Texas Woman’s universities. Over the past three years, four of those contests have been against Kutztown University, the Lakers first round opponent who topped GVSU 1-0 last time they met in 2012. 2-2 against Kutztown all-time, the Lakers are favored to advance, but in uncharted territory where momentum swings with every cut of an aluminum bat against unfamiliar, highly motivated opponents, GVSU must take care not to overlook anyone.

“I think that (momentum) helps, absolutely, but we’re so excited right now, I actually think we need to settle down a little bit – we’re all kind of on the ‘win high’ type of deal,” Martin said. “We need to calm down, settle in. Obviously we should have confidence, but you have to go in with a clean slate.”

Owners of the third-best winning percentage (.863) in all of Division II, GVSU also enters the tournament armed with the 14th-best team ERA in the country behind Andrasik’s 1.54 ERA and Santora’s 1.62 ERa sub-two marks and the 26th best team slugging percentage (.489) behind Katie Martin’s GLIAC single-season record 80 RBI and 58 career homeruns, fifth most in Division II history.

“Obviously you have to pitch, hit and field, but I would definitely say staying together as a team (will be the biggest key),” Martin said. “I think this postseason we’ve really focused on the team, everything you do is for the team. I feel like everyone on our team played very selfless today and that’s wonderful when you have those people on the bunch that just back you up. I think everybody played a very crucial part today and I think if we go in with that mentality that it’s our team winning those games next week and not an individual, I think we’ll be golden.”

Grand Valley will take on Kutztown this afternoon beginning at 5 p.m. and if successful, will move on to face the winner of game four between Texas Woman’s and Humboldt. The national championship game will be played Monday May 27 at noon. Below are each of the four first found match-up previews.

To view the NCAA World Series bracket in it’s entirety, complete with real time score updates, click here.

Live video of all tournament games can also be streamed here.

Game Three: 5 p.m.

Kutztown University Golden Bears
Record: 34-21 (.618)
Regional: Atlantic
Momentum: 11-game winning streak

The Golden Bears enter the World Series with the more losses than any of the other seven contenders and struggled this season away from home (7-9 away, 13-7 neutral). Lucky for Kutztown, they just so happen to be playing their best ball of the season. With sophomores Mary Kociencki and Domonique Ficara on the mound, Kutztown allowed only three runs in five NCAAtournament games, tied with Texas Women’s University for the fewest allowed in tournament play, and have produced a stingy 2.52 team ERA on the season.

Like the Lakers, the Pirates will suffer no lack of experience in the dugout as head coach Judy Lawes has accumulated a 774-413-2 (.652) career record in her 25 seasons at KU, which places her securely among the top 25 active Division II coaches with Doc Woods.

Grand Valley State University Lakers
NFCA Rank: No. 9
Record: 44-7 (.863)
Regional: West
Momentum: One-game winning streak

Through 11 games of postseason play, Katie Martin has batted .483 with seven extra-base hits, three home runs and 14 RBI helping to support the outstanding one-two punch of Santora-Andrasik, who have combined to go 8-3 with a save a piece, pitching 45 combined strikeouts to only 22 walks and have yet to allow a playoff triple or homerun. One of the deeper and most balanced rosters in the tournament, the Lakers posses every requisite component to become a champion.

Game Four: 7:30 p.m.

Texas Woman’s University Pioneers
NFCA Rank: No. 6
Record: 51-12 (.810)
Regional: South Central
Momentum: 10-game winning streak

A team with both power and speed to spare, TWU will make their first World Series appearance and boasts a roster complete with two 20-home run hitters – senior Jordan Readicker (21) and junior Katie Hines (25) – and a burglar in junior Bailey Vrazel, who has successfully stolen 52 bases on 59 attempts this season. The Pioneers will be forced to face their mirror image in HSU Thursday, the winner likely being decided by which nation leading left-handed home run slugger, Hines or Chrissy Stalf, makes a more defined impact on the game.

Humboldt State University Lumberjacks
NFCA Rank: No. 5
Record: 52-12 (.812)
Regional: West
Momentum: 17-game winning streak

The Jacks, who won tittles in 1999 and 2008, have slugged 111 home runs on the season (10 grand slams), led by senior Chrissy Stalf who has 27, both marks one homer shy of the respective NCAADivision II single-season records. Five other Lumberjacks have 11 or more home runs and few lineups in the World Series tournament figure to be foreboding at the plate.

Game One: 12 p.m.

Central Oklahoma University Bronchos
NFCA Rank: No. 19
Record: 47-11 (.810)
Regional: Central
Momentum: Five-game winning streak

For the second year in a row, the Bronchos, who this year set the Central Oklahoma University record for most wins in a season, will make a World Series appearance with senior designated player Kelcie Edwards and her .410 average, 18 home runs, 14 doubles and 60 runs batted in leading the charge. Edwards owns nine school records, including career marks for at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, homers and RBI, make her essentially the Central Oklahoma version of Katie Martin.

Armstrong Atlantic University Pirates
NFCA Rank: No. 4
Record: 42-8-1 (.818)
Regional: Southeast
Momentum: Five-game winning streak

For the third consecutive season, the Pirates were represented on the NFCA All-American team as junior Kacie Patterson, who batted .421 with seven doubles, two triples, a homerun and 14 RBI’s while fielding .959 with 43 putouts and 121 assists, will man the hot corner on the third team. For the first time in school history, the Pirates will contend for a Division II colleges softball World Series title. Senior Shelby Duff, the AAU career leader in doubles (56) and runner-up in at-bats, hits, runs and career batting average, will also aspire to be a tricky out in tournament play.

Game Two: 2:30 p.m.

Valdosta State University Blazers
NFCA Rank: No. 3
Record: 46-11 (.807)
Regional: South
Momentum: One-game losing streak

The defending World Series champs aren’t quite as imposing as they were when they went 58-5 (.921) in 2012, but they have plenty of pedigree and pop, led by Daktronics All-South Region Player of the Year sophomore Courtney Albritton hitter extraordinaire, who has batted 19 triples and 18 home runs in 2013 to go with a .419 average, to make another run.

Molloy University Lions
NFCA Rank: No. 27
Record: 52-12 (.812)
Regional: East
Momentum: Eight-game winning streak

Making their second World Series appearance in four years, Molloy is led by the East Region Pitcher of the year, senior southpaw Megan Butterworth, who has curated a 28-5 record on the season while maintaining a 1.05 ERA. The Lions set a school win record mark this season and have played superb ball behind Butterworth, who had 20 strikeouts in 12 innings of super regional play.

To read the original post “GVSU softball prepares for World Series”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

May 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

GVSU softball wins Super Regional, advances to NCAA World Series

leave a comment »

And then there were eight

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

There are a hair under 300 Division II softball programs incorporated with the NCAA – only eight remain to play for the right to provide the 2013 season with their own distinctive ending.

For only the second time in school history, and the first time since 2002, Grand Valley State University will be one of those eight NCAADivision II World Series championship suitors with a pen in their hands, a compelling, albeit unfinished conclusion. A fairy tale conclusion is still in play between the foul poles.

After a 10-game tune-up spring trip to Florida, senior Katie Martin reflected with the Lanthorn upon her numerous career accomplishments and was asked to consider what else was left for her and her teammates, namely her fellow seniors, to accomplish. There wasn’t much left to take aim at, but Martin took a full swing.

GVL / Robert Mathews Junior Briauna Taylor running towards first base after a line drive against UWP.

GVL / Robert Mathews
Junior Briauna Taylor running towards first base after a line drive against UWP.

“I just want to win a national championship and I think we have an excellent team,” Martin said in March. “I think we can go all the way. I think we’re all really excited to play right now and we have to keep that intensity through the entire season, especially during the postseason. We just have believe in each other and ourselves and we can get there.”

Fast forward 48 games, 42 of which GVSU had won, and all that remained between the Lakers and their ‘happily ever after’ opportunity was a Super Regional heavyweight bought with the No. 1 ranked and eerily familiar University of Indianapolis Greyhounds. Heading into the matchup,GVSU boasted the second highest winning percentage in Division II ranks (.875), Indianapolis the first (.898). Each program had only experienced defeat six times each in 2013 and yet, one would exit the weekend forced to stomach two additional and unaccustomed losses. A title fight billing was suitable, but in reality it was to be a staring contest of elite contenders, straining with all their might to avoid blinking.

“I tell you both teams (GVSU and Uindy) sort of mirrored each other,” said GVSU head coach Doc Woods. “Both (have) good pitching – they had a senior and a freshman, we had a senior and a freshman. Both very good hitting teams. They might have been a little quicker than us and I thought we might have had a little more power than them. Boy it was a great matchup. Some of the people afterwards said that was the best three games they’ve seen in college softball.”

After an eight-hit, 5-3 victory Friday, it was GVSU that threw the first blow. One more victory Saturday, with two chances to do it, would totter the Greyhounds to the mat. So close, but good stories have a way of meandering, leaving the reader wanting more.

GVSU dropped the second game of the playoff 4-2 as senior Hannah Santora struggled to replicate her day one results. Of course, it would all come down to one final game – anything else would have seemed too hasty.

Martin squared the game at two with a solo shot to right field in the bottom of the fifth and freshman Sara Andrasik, with a little help, narrowly escaped the top of the sixth with a runner left on third.

The stage set, the Taylor twins, both juniors, obliged the moment – Brittany getting on base and advanced to second, Briauna driving her sister in with an RBI single. 34-0 heading on the season heading into game three against Indianapolis after maintaining a lead after six innings, GVSU held onto a 3-2 victory and extended the streak to 35 games.

“Good win,” Woods said. “I mean the hitting came through – you’ve got a freshman pitcher (Andrasik) who hung in there real tough – it was nice. Of course you’d like to win the first one today, but golly sakes it was a well-played game. Very close again and real happy we could back in the second game and keep our momentum going in the right direction. There’s not too many times we’ve had to come back from a loss, but we’ve done it and I said ‘You girls, find a way to do it. Find a way to get it done.’ They’ve done that all year and they did it during the game. I thought every game was a nail bitter – just great softball. So happy we came out on top.”

Momentum always seems to be a key factor in playoff situations and GVSU has seemingly rode a powerful wave destined to arrive in Virginia all season long. More integral to the victory and to the season than momentum, the records, the streaks, the story lines and the statistics etc. combined however was the Laker team itself – every piece, every player.

“I think we went in there confident, which we should have, and I think every win we had this weekend was a complete team win,” Martin said. “Every single person in our lineup, on the field had a crucial point and part of that game – all the games this weekend. I think it’s great in that aspect. Like today in that second game, the one we won, it was our nine hitter (Brittany Taylor) that scored and that’s just awesome when you can count on (everyone) all the way through the lineup to win and hit good.”

Confidence and a win total (44-7) at a season high, the Lakers will make the trip to Salem, VA. this Thursday – prepared to tackle their next obstacle. For now, the Atlantic Region Champion Kutztown University Bears (34-21). Before they can achieve their fairy tale ending, they might have to convince themselves to believe it first.

“It’s so surreal right now,” Martin said. “We’re getting on the bus and I’m like ‘Did this really just happen?! Did we just win?! We’re going to the World Series.’ I can’t even really grasp it right now.”

To read the original post “GVSU softball wins Super Regional, advances to NCAA World Series”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

May 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm

GVSU baseball World Series bound, all in

leave a comment »

GVSU baseball advances to NCAA World Series after winning Super Regional

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

In poker, nobody wants to quit when they’re losing and nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead. In many ways, baseball works the same way.

Grand Valley State University baseball began its 2013 campaign losing six of its first 13 contests and on Mar. 17, boasted an uninspiring 6-7 record.

Two months later, GVSU is NCAA Division II World Series bound for the sixth time in 11 years (second berth in three years) after dropping only eight of their last 31 regular season games (.742) and winning seven of their last 10 GLIAC and NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament competitions.

GVL Archive Cory Baker

GVL Archive
Cory Baker

On Thursday afternoon, GVSU opened play in Springfield, Mo. with a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over No. 4 seeded Saint Joseph’s of Indiana.

A pair of pocket three-run homers, one from sophomore Jesse Abel in the sixth and one from junior slugger Giancarlo Brugnoni (his 13th of the season, 32nd of his career, tying him withGVSU career record holder Dustin Vugteveen) in the seventh was enough to make GLVCPitcher of the Year Jordan Peterson, who allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in seven innings, fold for only the second time this season.

In the quarterfinals on Friday, No. 5 seeded Lewis University fell 9-3 to GVSU after junior Taylor Banks laid down a five RBI straight to couple with sophomore Mike Nadratowski’s three of a kind, 3-for-6, triple and three stolen base outing.

In what was perhaps the 2013 season’s royal flush, GVSU had saved a 25-hit (25-of-48, .521) game, the Lakers highest single game hit total of the season, 18-run outpour for Saturday’s match up against No. 6 seed Bellarmine.

Sophomore Kevin Zak set a new GVSU single game record with six hits and tied the single-game record for runs at five while senior starter Kyle Teague delved into the record book himself, striking out a Laker record 14-batters on the day, allowing only six hits, one run and no walks in nine innings of work – arguably the best performances in GVSU baseball history from the plate and mound, respectively.

“The pitching has been strong and Patrick Kelly (redshirt freshman) is another one of the guys that’s been pitching extremely well,” said GVSU senior closer Brad Zambron. “He kind of gets lost behind Camp and Teague, but those three guys give us a really good rotation. I think we match up really well with anyone we face because I don’t think there’s three good starters like we have on any other team and it is nice to know that we’re going to have those guys going deep into games. We’re just so deep and getting around tournament time, postseason time, I think that’s really important.”

As solid as Teague and the other starting pitchers have been – it takes a team to win games in such a complete manner.

“Kyle Teague was very dominating with 14 strikeouts – it’s actually one of the most dominating performances I’ve seen a pitcher have,” said GVSU head coach Jamie Detillion. “They had no chance against him. With his confidence level and when he has his good stuff going, he’s as good as anybody I’ve seen at the college level. That’s what they (our pitchers) do, keep runs off the board and at the end of the day, it’s about who scores more – that’s how the winner’s defined. (That said) there’s been a lot of things that don’t go on the stat line, too on some key plays. Some guys have made some great defensive plays that have kept the team in the game and help some pitchers avoid putting runs on the board for the opposing team.”

As fate would have it, Bellarmine defeated Lewis 13-1 in Saturday’s loser’s bracket elimination game to set up a rematch with the Lakers in Sunday’s championship. GVSU, like their softball counterparts on Saturday against the University of Indianapolis, would only need to win one of two games to advance to the World Series.

The Lakers came out flat in the championship round with a 7-4 lapse. In game two, the ante was raised and GVSU decided to call Bellarmine’s bluff.

It took a 3-for-3, three RBI performance complete with a two-out, two-RBI go-ahead single with the game tied at three in the bottom the eighth from sophomore dual sport centerfielder Jamie Potts, 108 pitches in eight innings (on only two days rest) from senior starter Anthony Campanella and a scoreless inning with a strikeout from Zambron to earn their ninth and 13th respective win and save of the season and clinch the deciding game, but a 6-3 full house final score did the trick.

Following the game, Potts, first baseman Brugnoni and pitcher Teague were named to the NCAADivision II Midwest Region All-Tournament team – Potts, who went 10-of-18 (.555) over the tournament, was the decided MVP.

“Kevin (Zak) had a great tournament, Potts had an even better tournament so it’s good to see those guys getting hot, ready to go for this weekend when we play in the world series,” Zambron said. “It means a lot, it’s a team effort. When those guys are playing well and hitting the ball, odds are we’re going to win. We’ve been pitching really well. (The 13th save of the season) It was even better because it won the game and it was cool to be out there for the last out. I think I was the one that was on the bottom of the dog pile, which kind of sucked, but it’s all good stuff. That’s why you work so hard, to do stuff like that in those situations. It’s something you start the beginning of the year off as one of your goals and it feels good to finally achieve it – just fortunate to be a part of it.”

Now 35-17 (.673) in 2013, the Lakers are 461-165-2 (.734) over the last 11 seasons with 11 consecutive NCAA Division II tournament appearances, six NCAA Division II Midwest regional titles and six matching World Series appearances in what has been a continuation of what is already quite arguably the most prolific and successful decade run in program history.

The stakes for the Lakers haven’t been greater all season, as they progress once again to a high roller game in Cary, N.C. The opportunity will officially begin Saturday May 25 at 5 p.m. as the cards are dealt and GVSU goes head-to head with the Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks (39-8), a team the Lakers defeated 12-0 during a season opening spring break trip to Florida but has since won 10 consecutive games and 22 of their last 23 contests.

“I think our score against them is pretty deceptive,” Detillion said. “It was one of those days where we had everything going our way and they didn’t have much working for them. They’re a good team and you could tell by watching them even before games just how they manage themselves, how they carry themselves – they’re a good team, top-to-bottom. I do think we had a good game against them, but baseball’s a funny sport. Kind of like our tournament, you have the 18-1 game and then we turn around and get beat the next day. Anything can happen in baseball.”

As one of eight Division II programs in the national left playing, GVSU has something left to prove and no desire to walk away from the table now.

“Excited to start playing,” Zambron said. “Back in 2011 when we went, it was kind of like maybe we were more happy to be there, but now that I’ve already been there once I’m not just happy with being there – I actually want to win a couple of games. The last two times they’ve (GVSU) gone to world series – so 2011 and 2009 – they actually went 0-and-2 so it’d be nice to actually win a game here and that’s something I’m looking forward to doing. I’m not just happy about going and I think most of the guys on the team feel the same way.”

To read the original post “GVSU baseball advances to World Series after winning Super Regional”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

May 23, 2013 at 9:35 pm

GVSU softball advances to the NCAA Super Regional after win

leave a comment »

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University softball team (42-6) combated two familiar opponents in Sunday’s Midwest Regional Softball Tournament final: the No. 3 tournament seeded Missouri-St. Louis Tritons (40-13), who the Lakers defeated 4-0 Saturday, and the weather.

“We’ve played in 32-degree weather in March and this is a little warmer than that (it hovered around 40 degrees), but not a whole lot,” saidGVSU head coach Doc Woods. “I think we’ve gotten mentally tough. You just have to make the adjustment and I think our team knows you that can’t do much about it (the weather). You know you come in today and the wind’s blowing in your face at 20 mph. With our team that hits a lot of home runs, that’s not what you want to see, but you have to deal with it and do the best you can.”

After five scoreless innings on the blistery Michigan May Mother’s day, the chilled Lakers, who had patiently waited to thaw through the offensive freeze, broke the ice in the top of the sixth – it all started with a walk.

GVL / Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews

Senior slugger Katie Martin, who blasted a two-run homer in Saturday’s victory, the 57th of her career (tied for fifth most in Division II history), contributed more subtly Sunday and reached base on balls for the 32nd time this season.

“We had (senior) Emily Jones (who smoked a solo home run Saturday) coming up and you know do we bunt?,” Woods said. “What do you do on that? And I asked her and she says ‘Well, I’ll do what you want me to do’. And I say ‘What do you want to do?’ and she says ‘I want to hit’. She hit a single and got Katie to third. She came through.”

A hard and low bouncer angled just to the right of second, the ball bounded through the crack Martin had created and slipped halfway into centerfield.

“Well Doc, on that timeout, he asked me if I wanted to bunt or hit – obviously I said swing,” Jones said. “So I was just going up there saying ‘I can’t let him down now’. Tried to drive one and she gave me a good one to hit.”

The seniors had setup the Tritons, leaving junior Miranda Cleary to take care of the weather. A powerful shot sent high into center and wiffle balled into a drop zone in right did the trick, allowing the Lakers to get on the board and secure a 2-1 victory.

“I was just hoping it was going to fall,” Cleary said. “I saw the wind take it and I was like ‘Whoo! It went center to right.’ It felt good off the bat, but it also was up and there was a lot of wind so I was just praying that it got through.”

The tension palpable, senior ace Hannah Santora was relieved by flame-throwing freshman Sara Andrasik in the sixth with no outs on the board and a championship on the line. With icy hands and ice in her veins, Andrasik delivered her second save of the season.

“I mean I was definitely nervous, but had to keep cool and focused and know that everybody’s got my back,” Andrasik said. “It was very tense because everybody’s loud and getting really into it, but I just tried to stay calm and do my thing. Growing up I was always put into pressure situations and now that I’ve done this in a VERY high pressure situation, in regionals that I know I can do it now and it’ll be a little easier going forward.”

Seven of GVSU’s eight runs in Friday’s 8-4 victory over tournament No. 7 seed Ferris State (29-15), including all five runs in the sixth inning punctuated by junior Brittany Taylor’s two-run homer that still hasn’t landed, and 12 of GVSU’s 14 total runs in three games this weekend came with two outs. Neither Santora, who pitched a three-hit gem on Saturday or Andrasik, both backed by a stingyGVSU defense, allowed a single extra base hit on the weekend. Save for last weeks GLIACchampionship loss to Wayne State University, the Lakers have played their best (and most clutch) ball when it matters most. Although even that slip to the Warriors might have been to their benefit.

“I think (back-to-back defeats to Wayne State in last weeks GLIAC Championship finale) it played a lot into today’s game because the mentality of there could be two games and we really don’t want two games again,” Cleary said. “I think sometimes it helps you to get knocked down a little bit to build yourself back up. It makes you a little bit more humble going into the game.”

Beginning this Friday, the Lakers will travel to Baumgartner field in Indianapolis to take on the No. 1 ranked team in the NFCA poll and the top tournament seed University of Indianapolis Greyhounds (53-6, a school record), a team that had a Division II-high seven NFCA All-Region First Team representatives, and won their regional final against Ashland Sunday decisively 10-0, in a best of three gauntlet. After one, possibly two games Saturday, the winner will advance as one of eight teams represented in the NCAA Division II softball college world series.

The Greyhounds and Lakers share qualities distinctive of quality teams. Both squads have broken records this season, and have produced arguably the most historic seasons in their respective program’s histories (GVSU – 10 seasons of 40-plus wins in their history, three of which have come in the last three years, Indianpolis – No. 1 in the NFCA poll for seven straight weeks). Both teams boast quality pitching staffs bolstered by freshman slingshots (Morgan Foley, who allowed only two hits and had 10 K’s Sunday against Ashland, become Indianpolis’ first player in program history to record 300 strikeouts in a season, Andrasik has pitched two no-hitters). Both teams are senior laden (Indianpolis- 4, GVSU – 8, who likely played the last real home game of their careers Sunday), came up short in last year’s Midwest Regional and are hungry to accomplish more.

Prepared to take on their next challenge, if GVSU is to advance from the field of 16 remaining Division II softball programs still playing, they’ll have to continue to play loose and focused.

“We’ve had a lot of close games this year,” Woods said. “Luckily, most of those we’ve won and then we’ve talked about just finding a way to get it done. Find some way to get it done, hang in there and hopefully something good will happen. They’re (Indianapolis) a real good team with good pitching, but if we can get our pitching and our defense going, throw in a little bit of hitting I think hopefully we’ll match up. If you get some pitching, you get some defense, you’ve got a chance.”

To read the original post “GVSU softball advances to the NCAA Super Regional after win”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

May 13, 2013 at 4:20 am

Football alumni to begin NFL camp

leave a comment »

News Brief: 5/5/2013

Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University alums Charles Johnson and Tim Lelito both entered the professional ranks and joined the fraternity of Lakers in the NFL last Saturday, a crowning accomplishment to most any football career. Making a final 53-man roster and staying in the league is the next step.

Johnson, a seventh round pick (216 overall) of the Green Bay Packers and Lelito, an undrafted free agent signed by the New Orleans Saints, will both enter rookie minicamps May 10-12.

This will be the first opportunity for them and approximately 30 other fellow rookies to get a taste of the NFL on the field and in the classroom and give coaching staffs a reason to keep them around. Voluntary OTA’s will begin May 20-22, mandatory minicamp June 4-6.

To read the original post “Football alumni to begin NFL camp”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

May 6, 2013 at 5:17 am