Ferris softball earns NCAA Tournament berth

Bulldogs return to tournament for first time since 2009

BIG RAPIDS — Ferris State’s softball team is heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 under the direction of first-year coach Marie Foster.

The Bulldogs earned their eighth postseason bid in program history when FSU was selected to take on rival and No. 2 seed Grand Valley State in the opening round of Friday’s Midwest Regional.

The seventh-seeded Bulldogs and the number two-seeded Lakers will square off at 2:30 p.m. in the second game of the four-team regional event.  The Midwest Region’s third seed, Missouri-St. Louis, faces sixth-seeded Southern Indiana in the opener at noon.

Foster said helping FSU get back to the NCAA tournament has been the result of a veteran group leading the team to a great second half of the regular season.

“With Wayne State (winning the GLIAC Tournament title) it added a little pressure about whether we’d get in but we were still pretty confident,” she said. “During the GLIAC Tournament, we didn’t come out on top in some of those games that we wanted to win. I don’t think that’s hurt our morale or confidence heading into the regional.”

Foster said she thought the Bulldogs would end up as a No. 7 seed following the GLIAC Tournament and that she and the team were forced to watch the selection show apart in an online feed this morning. Once the Bulldogs were selected, the mass-texting began in a celebration that hasn’t occurred in four years.

“We talked about it a little on Sunday,” she said. “Once the selection was made I sent out a big group text to let everyone know we were in, because some of the girls had finals (on Monday). It was definitely exciting.”

The Midwest Regional #2 tournament hosted by GVSU will be a double-elimination format with each team guaranteed to play on both Friday and Saturday. The first-round winners meet at 11 a.m. on Saturday with the losers squaring off against each other in an elimination contest at 1:30 p.m.

The title round is set for noon on Sunday at the GVSU Softball Field.

In addition to the regional event hosted by Grand Valley State, the region’s top overall seed, nationally top-ranked Indianapolis, will also host a four-team regional over the weekend. The Greyhounds face Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament champion and eighth-seeded Wayne State in round one with fourth-seeded Lewis (Ill.) and fifth-seeded Ashland also in the Indianapolis sub-region.

The winners of this weekend’s two four-team regional tournaments will advance to the NCAA Midwest Super Regionals set for May 17-18 at the site of the highest remaining seed for a best-of-three showdown. The winner of the super regional then moves on to the NCAA Elite Eight set for May 23-27 at the Moyer Complex in Salem, Va.

The Bulldogs have advanced to the NCAA Tournament seven previous times with FSU’s last appearance in 2009 representing its fourth trip over a five-year span. Ferris State reached the title game of the sub-Midwest Regional Touranment in ’09.

Previously, Ferris State won back-to-back Great Lakes Regional Tourney titles in 1998 and 1999 before winning the regional again in 2008.  Overall, the Bulldogs have made previous NCAA appearances in 1982, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

FSU owns a 29-14 overall record to date this year and placed second behind GVSU in GLIAC regular-season action with a 20-6 overall record under Foster.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are currently 39-6 overall this campaign and posted a first-place 24-2 league record.  Earlier this year, Grand Valley State swept the Bulldogs in two close regular-season meetings by scores of 4-2 and 1-0 in Allendale on April 7.  GVSU was ranked ninth in last week’s Division II national poll and earned GLIAC Tournament runner-up honors this past weekend in Findlay, Ohio.

 

Below are the game times for the GVSU regional:

Friday

Game 1 – #3 Missouri-St. Louis (39-11) vs. #6 Southern Indiana (29-20), 12:00 p.m.

Game 2 – #2 Grand Valley State (39-6) vs. #7 Ferris State (29-14)

Saturday

Game 3 – Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 11:00 a.m.

Game 4 – Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 1:30 p.m.

Game 5 – Loser of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 4:00 p.m.

Sunday

Game 6 (Championship game) – Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 5, 12:00 p.m.

Game 7 (Championship game, if necessary) – Same teams as above, 2:30 p.m.

 

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