Perfect weekend

FSU ends four-day stretch with 8-0 record, earns No. 2 seed in GLIAC tourney

BIG RAPIDS — Ferris State’s softball team will enter the GLIAC tournament as a No. 2 seed and one of the hottest teams in the league after four-day stretch that saw the Bulldogs go 8-0 in GLIAC play.

The Bulldogs picked up a pair of wins over Northwood on Sunday in the regular season finale to run their total up to eight straight wins, dating back to Thursday, winning a pair of GLIAC contests on the road before finishing the season 6-0 in front of the home fans.

BACK TO BASES: Ferris State’s Alyssa Smith (left) tries to get back to second base on a steal attempt during Saturday’s action against Hillsdale. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

Ferris State (28-12, 20-6) enters the GLIAC tournament playing some of its best softball to date, defeating Northwood (28-17, 18-8) in a pair of critical conference games on Sunday, 2-0 and 5-0.

“I think we’re doing really well,” FSU coach Marie Foster said. “In the second half of the season, we’re playing a lot of the highly-competitive teams in our league. Obviously with the weather, we’ve had these four days of back-to-back games. I think we’ve done well so far. We’ve got to get a couple of wins to help us in the regional rankings.”

On Sunday, the Bulldogs were once again aided by their pitching, as Dana Bowler picked up her 11th and 12th straight wins of the season, helping the senior improve to 20-6. Bowler, who has been outstanding in the second half of the season, gave up just three hits in the opener, while surrendering just two hits in the second game.

Bowler has tossed five consecutive complete game shutouts and overall has not allowed a single run in the last 41 innings of action for the Bulldogs. That matches the school-record of 41 consecutive scoreless innings set twice previously by Nadine Crowl in 1999 and

Sharon Stickney in 1980, which means she needs only one more scoreless inning to break the FSU mark.

Bowler said her stellar pitching as of late has come due to the sense of urgency she’s felt during her senior campaign.

“I think with this being my senior year, there’s a lot I’ve learned over the past three years,” she said. “I know that if a pitch isn’t working, not to panic. I trust myself to throw it, so I’ve been a lot more consistent with my pitches than I have been in the past. I think that’s helping me go the distance this year.”

In the first game, Ferris State scored its only runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on a pair of RBI singles by Amy Dunleavy and Lindsey Pettit. Alyssa Smith and Liz Hamming also had hits for the Bulldogs.

In the second game, FSU scored four of its five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to put the game away against Northwood, led by a three-run seventh inning that put the game out of reach.

Rachel Gabrielson scored on a wild pitch, Dunleavy sacrificed in a runner and Hamming added an RBI double that gave FSU and Bowler the lead it would not relinquish.

On Saturday, FSU honored its seven seniors in style, defeating Hillsdale 3-0 and 4-2 in a pair of league contests behind pitcher Dana Bowler’s school record 10th consecutive win in game one. Bowler tossed her 10th shutout victory of the year, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out seven batters.

Foster said Bowler has been consistent throughout her entire senior campaign, but has raised her game as tougher teams have appeared on the GLIAC schedule.

“I don’t think she’s done a whole lot different than what she was doing earlier in the season, but she’s been solid,” she said. “You’ll see that she’s throwing a lot of games, but you’ll see often times that a pitcher is dominating their opponent. She knows about that, and she wants the ball in her hand – it’s her senior year.”

Ferris State scored all three of its runs in the opening game in the bottom of the second as the Bulldogs registered two hits and were aided by a Charger error in the inning.

Overall, the Bulldogs had six hits in the opener with Alyssa Smith and Alex Wittman both notching a pair of hits apiece.  Amy Dunleavy along with Pettit both had a single hit each while Kramerich and Rachael Gabrielson both tallied sacrifice hits for the Bulldogs.  FSU’s RBI’s in game one came from Michelle Tononi and Wittman.

In game two, Hillsdale jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a single run in the bottom half of the first.  The Bulldogs answered with a run in the top of the second and the score stood until the Chargers regained a 2-1 margin in the fourth.  After FSU tied it back up in the fifth, the Bulldogs finally moved ahead with a pair of runs in the sixth inning and shut down Hillsdale the rest of the way to notch the victory.

In the sixth inning, with the score tied, Ferris State was helped by two Hillsdale errors before Wittman singled to center field to drive in two runs, which proved to be the difference.

The big weekend was magnified by the recognition of seniors Morgan Kramerich, Bowler, Clay, Pettit, Emily Carlson, Allison Webber and Hamming.

Foster credited the big senior class for the leadership they’ve provided this season.

“Seven seniors have brought a lot of leadership to this team,” she said. “(They had) a lot of desire to push through this season and do very well. This is it for them, so this is their opportunity for all of the hard work they’ve done for the past four years. So hopefully, we’ll have a lot of games left to play.”


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