Lakers split home series against Ashland
Briauna Taylor. GVL/Kevin Sielaff
The Grand Valley State University softball team split a doubleheader with Ashland University on Wednesday afternoon, but walked home from the games with a sensation much more wholesome and satisfying than having kissed a sister.
GVSU (20-5, 9-1 GLIAC) was 6-0 at home and had won nine in a row entering the first game of the twinbill against AU (29-20, 16-7 GLIAC), and down 8-6 entering the top of the seventh inning, was afforded an opportunity to extend both streaks.
That was until the hot-hitting Eagles battered down the floodgates with 11 runs, a total that would have ended the game in a mercy had it come pouring in two innings earlier, and walked off with a 19-6 victory.
“Sometimes, it’s just not your day and no matter what happens, it all goes against you,” GVSU coach Doug Woods said. “And when it’s not your day, it starts to stack up, and you just want the game to be over.”
The last time the Lakers gave up 19 or more runs in a game was in May 1973 – a 21-16 loss against Calvin College; Richard Nixon had just been inaugurated for his second term, the designated-hitter rule had just been implemented in Major League Baseball and current coach Doug ‘Doc’ Woods, who has been commissioned at GVSU for 38 years, was still an athletic-training student at the University of Toledo.
Sophomore Sara Andrasik (9-4) started game one for the Lakers, walked four, struck out one, and was knocked around for 17 hits and 11 earned runs. Junior relief pitcher Sarah Wyse didn’t fare much better and gave up five hits, as well as five earned runs in 1.1 innings of work.
“Once we got in-between games, we made a point to tell the girls that sure, the game wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it’s over – lets go on,” Woods said. “You just have to let it go. Games like that are going to happen, even if you don’t want them to, and you just have to wipe them completely from your mind. Afterward, it’s a new game where anything can happen, and in game two, we pulled it out.”
In game two, AU scored a run per inning between the fourth and sixth, leaving the Lakers to once again attempt to piece together a comeback.
The Lakers received a spark of life from a 10-foot-2 home run shot off the bat of freshman second baseman Jenna Lenza’s bat that grazed the left field foul pole on its way over the chain-link fence in the top of the sixth inning, but still trailed 3-1 entering the seventh.
“We needed something to put a charge in us, and Jenna’s home run put a charge in the team,” Woods said. “They got some bounces in the first game, we got a few in the second, but we just continued to play, understanding that we had our work cut out for us.”
With runners on second and third, Lenza stepped to the plate with one out and the game tied, tasked again with making something happen.
Lenza once again obliged.
“It’s tough when we’re having a rough time, and have no runs on the board, so with the home run at-bat, I’m just looking to get something started, to get something going,” Lenza said. “The next time up, I was just trying to hit behind the runner, hoping that the ball was going to fall.”
The ball did fall, after hanging up in the wind dramatically over right-field real estate between second and first. Horvath scored, Briauna Taylor extended both her GLIAC record of hit-by-pitches (18) and the Laker lead — and GVSU took game two by a score of 5-3.
Junior starter Lauren Gevaart (9-0), who watched the first game from the bullpen, gave up 10 hits in seven innings, but allowed only three earned runs and struck out five in the win.
“My mental approach didn’t change too much after seeing the opening game, although I did have an idea of who to pitch around,” Gevaart said. “I only throw three pitches, so it was adjustments like ‘don’t throw her a change-up, stay low on her’ and as a team, I felt like we had settled in.”
Entering the seventh inning of the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday afternoon, Woods had said to his team, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and she’s not singing, yet,” – and they listened.
Indeed, the fat lady hasn’t sung, yet.