GVSU softball goes 3-1 in Lewis Dome Tournament
The Lakers shut three of their four opponents out
Grand Valley State softball’s opening game of the season versus Missouri S&T was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the fourth when freshman centerfielder Kayla Plastiak stepped up to the plate.
The count began 0-2 with two outs and a runner on first base. Sophomore Shannon Flaherty had just struck out in the previous at-bat, and it looked like Plastiak was next. Pitcher Avery English sent a good pitch, but Plastiak answered with a better swing.
The ball cracked off Plastiak’s bat and soared more than 210 feet over the right center-field fence. Two-run shot. Hello 2017.
“That home run Kayla hit, it was a bomb,” said GVSU coach Dana Callihan, who is entering her third season as coach. “Not bad for her first collegiate hit.”
That scored the first two runs of an 8-0 victory over S&T in the first game of the year Friday, Feb. 24 at the Lewis Dome Tournament in Rosemont, Illinois. Later that day, the Lakers blanked Illinois-Springfield 3-0 to complete the doubleheader sweep. The next day, the Lakers started with their first defeat of the year, a 6-1 loss to Wisconsin-Parkside. The Lakers rebounded shortly thereafter with a 6-0 victory over William Jewell, completing the tournament.
“Bouncing back from (the loss on Saturday) was huge,” said sophomore ace pitcher Allison Lipovsky, the 2016 GLIAC Freshman of the Year. “We’re going to be tough to beat this year. We just have to make sure when we walk into games, we have to have that mentality that every game is not given to us.”
It was two freshman who led the way on the offensive side of the ball this weekend, as Plastiak and freshman first baseman Kelcie LaTour—who happen to be roommates—led the team with four RBIs each over the course of the four games.
Three of Plastiak’s RBIs came in the first game versus S&T, the two-run homer and then an RBI-single later in the game. Plastiak ended the weekend batting .364 with just one strikeout. LaTour batted 1-for-2 in her first career college game with an RBI-single and a walk. In the team’s last game versus William Jewell, LaTour went 3-for-4 with three RBIs including one double, as well as a stolen base. She finished the weekend batting .500.
“Kelcie and I talked before the games, and we were like, ‘Okay, obviously you’re going to be nervous, we’re freshman, but we’re here for a reason,’” Plastiak said. “Obviously, a home run does not determine the outcome of a game. Overall, that game was an 8-0 game, and all the other games, it wasn’t just one run.
“We worked together as a team to get the job done.”
The Lakers’ pitching was dominant. Three of the four GVSU starters posted complete game shutouts: Lipovsky started the first game versus S&T, allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts and no walks. Senior dual threat pitcher Ellie Balbach, who also acted as a designated hitter for the Lakers, allowed just three hits and three walks with six strikeouts in her first outing of the year in GVSU’s second game win over Illinois-Springfield.
In addition to Balbach’s duties on the mound, she tied LaTour and Plastiak with four RBIs on the weekend while batting .357. Three of her RBIs came in the opening win over S&T.
Junior transfer pitcher Allie Grys made her first career start in a Laker uniform in the fourth game win over William Jewell. She fanned five batters and allowed just four hits with one walk over seven innings.
The only pitcher to struggle for the Lakers was junior Courtney Reinhold. In the Lakers’ 6-0 loss to Wisconsin-Parkside, Reinhold started but allowed all six runs in the first half-inning. Lipovsky came in for relief and finished the game, allowing only one hit with six walks and eight strikeouts.
“I have my off-days, and when I have my bad days I hope somebody’s going to come in for me and take charge, and help me get through that,” Lipovsky said. “That’s what I did for Courtney (Saturday).”
Also batting well for the Lakers was junior leadoff hitter Teagan Shomin (.533 batting average over four games, eight hits) and senior second-baseman Jenna Lenza (team-high .571 batting average over four games, eight hits).
Up next for the Lakers, they will embark on their 12-game spring break trip in Clermont, Florida. The full schedule of games can be found at www.gvsulakers.com.