GVSU outscores Lake Erie 15-0 in twinbill
Frost clung to grass tips and chain links in the backstop as senior shortstop Briauna Taylor stepped to the plate in the second inning of Monday morning’s double-header matchup with Lake Erie College, but not even a forenoon chill could keep Taylor’s motor from running.
After weeks stored inside, most mechanisms require time to warm up, but the entire Grand Valley State University softball team roared to life with 15 runs scored to only seven hits allowed in back-to-back wins – a 4-0 win in game one, and a 11-0 win in game two – over LEC (3-13, 0-4) with relative ease. It was Taylor that twirled the crankshaft.
“Going into that game, we had talked as a team about how we needed to get the bats going a little bit more, so that was a focus against Lake Erie – to get some runs and put them together any way that we could,” Taylor said. “We needed a little warm-up period coming back from inside, which we got against Walsh, but we have people setting in, contributing and hitting when we need them to hit.
“So when I went up to the plate, I just went there to do my job and get on base – nothing more – so that the people behind me can hit me in.”
After legging out an infield single to lead off the inning and start the pistons firing, Taylor promptly stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored the game’s opening run on a RBI single from senior teammate Miranda Cleary. Next time up, Taylor bunted on to advance freshman Jenna Lenza into scoring position, again stole second and then came home on a sacrifice groundout supplied by senior Tanya Calkins.
In the second game of the double-header, Taylor opened up the throttle and slugged out a two-run homer – her seventh of the season and 29thof her career – over the left field fence, and then got on base for the second time in the third inning with hustle on a fielder’s choice.
Running at top form, GVSU (14-5, 3-1) scored 11 runs in the game, and between the two starts, Taylor tallied three hits on five at-bats to help manufacture six total runs.
“There are sometimes when we have some people on base that I want Briauna to hit and drive them in, but mostly I let her do what she wants to do,” GVSU skipper Doc Woods said. “That tater she knocked out was pretty deep, that bunt her next time up was well-placed, well-timed, and baseball-smart, and we have a lot of confidence in her making the right plays at the right time.”
On the other side of the mound, the pitching tandem of sophomore Sara Andrasik and junior Lauren Gevaart threw back-to-back shutouts with 12 combined strikeouts to just two combined walks, and allowed only a combined seven hits in 14 innings to help ignite the Lakers. Combined, GVSU’s pitching staff has surrendered only three runs in the last four games.
Andrasik’s complete-game one-hitter, the 11thshutout of her young career, in the day’s first game came packaged with five strikeouts, and was supported by small-ball tactics. Along with Briauna Taylor, Lenza also went 2-for-3 from the plate in the victory, while Cleary drove in a pair of runs.
Returning from a three-hit, 1-0 victory against Walsh Universityon Sunday, Gevaart, now 5-0 on the year, once again pitched well enough to win in the Monday’s second game, but was assisted much more thoroughly by Laker bats. Giving up just six hits, Gevaart dealt seven strikeouts, allowed only one runner to reach third base and rode a tidal wave of runs, the Lakers’ second-highest scoring output of the season, to victory.
“We’ve been working on mixing up our pitches more and showing batters different looks every time up to keep them off balance, and it’s been working,” Andrasik said. “After a three week break, we got off to a slow start with the bats, but come the fourth game of the weekend, we finally got them going, and when you get run support, that’s pressure off the pitcher’s shoulders.
“It makes it a lot easier to win the game, and as we regroup as a team, everything – from the batting to the pitching – feeds off of each other.”
Following Taylor’s lead, the young Laker bats sprung to life, too, in a kinetic chain reaction of offense. Freshman outfielder Kelsey Dominguez went 3-for-3 in the second game with two RBI, fellow freshman outfielder Chelsea Horvath scored twice, as did sophomore Taylor Fris, once with a lead-off solo blast to left field.
Another positive sign, like Taylor’s offensive production, GVSU’s pitching and a second outdoor practice in a rowon Wednesday as the Lakers drive into the bulk of their season. A season that is seemingly making a clean break at the right time, and will continue this weekend with two games scheduled against rival Ferris State University (7-8).
“They always want to beat us, we them, and in a rivalry, you always want to play well,” Woods said. “We have a very busy schedule upcoming in the next couple of weeks, and when you play that many back to back, you hope you’re playing well.
“Confidence carries over, and when you’re struggling and playing that many games, it’s not a fun situation, but I feel good about where we’re at – finally outside and playing good ball.”