Grand Valley State pushes through for 8-4 victory against Texas Woman's
SALEM, Va. -- No. 9 Grand Valley State was able to get out to a 5-0 lead and held on for a wild 8-4 victory against No. 6 Texas Woman's in the Division II Softball Championship on Saturday afternoon. The Lakers used three insurance runs and got out of a seventh-inning bases loaded jam to clinch the victory and stay alive in the College World Series.
GVSU, in its second championship appearance, improves to 45-8 on the season. Texas Woman's ends its season and first trip to the championship with a 51-14 record.
Senior Nellie Kosola led off the game with a walk and stole second base later in the inning, however, Texas Woman's pitcher Brandie Lander ended the frame by getting a swinging strikeout. In the bottom of the first, TWU loaded the bases with one out and looked set to open up the scoring against Laker senior pitcher Hannah Santora.
Leadoff hitter Bailey Vrazel reached with an infield single and stole second base, following Kosola's lead in the top of the stanza. After consecutive walks put the bases full of Pioneers, left fielder Lizzy Kelly hit a soft popup near second base. GVSU shortstop Briauna Taylor came over and made a sliding catch for the second out before tossing to Kayleigh Bertram at second base for the inning-ending double play. The TWU runner at second base was too far off the bag and caught in no man's land, as the mistake allowed GVSU to get out of the bases-loaded threat.
Texas Woman's put a runner on second base with two outs in the bottom of the second inning before Santora retired Haley Colwell on a strikeout looking.
The Lakers picked up their first base hit of the game when senior catcher Emily Holt dropped a bloop single near the cut of the grass in center field. Pinch runner Chelsea Horvath moved to second base with one out on a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Briauna Taylor hit a chopper up the middle that found its way into centerfield. The single brought Horvath around from second base for the game's first run.
GVSU threatened again in the top of the fourth. Bertram reached on a one-out single and moved to second base on an illegal pitch. Two batters later, Holt ripped a shot to centerfield, but TWU's Amanda Ruiz made a terrific diving catch, saving a sure run as Bertram would have scored easily, if not for the Ruiz webgem.
With one out in the fifth inning, Kosola and Briauna Taylor each singled to left field to put two runners on for the Lakers. Katie Martin, the two-time Daktronics National Player of the Year, followed by ripping a double down the left field line. The speedsters - Kosola and Taylor - both came around and scored, with Taylor crossing home plate all the way from first base. That two-run hit gives Martin 240 career RBI, which is the new GVSU all-time record and tied for sixth-most in Division II history.
The Lakers weren't done, however. Senior Emily Jones followed by hitting a high flyball to right field that kept sailing and eventually found its way over the fence for a two-run home run, putting Grand Valley State up 5-0. The homer was the seventh of the season for Jones and the 19th of her career, tied for seventh-most in GVSU history.
Holt continued her strong postseason play in the bottom of the fifth inning. TWU's Vrazel, the Division II leader in stolen bases during her freshman and sophomore years and owner of 53 stolen bases this season, reached on a two-out single. Moments later, she tried to steal second base and Holt threw down to Briauna Taylor to catch the All-American stealing for just the eighth time this year. That was the 13th attempted baserunner thrown out by Holt in 2013.
Texas Woman's would not go down quietly. Ruiz hit a leadoff single and All-American Katie Hines walked before Santora retired the next two batters, leaving a pair of Pioneers on the corners. With two outs, Jordan Readicker smashed her 22nd home run of the year, a three-run blast to left field to bring TWU back in the game at 5-3.
GVSU was able to bounce back in the top of the seventh inning by loading the bases with no outs. Briauna Taylor led off by hitting a long flyball to right field. With the powerful wind, the Texas Woman's rightfielder was twisting and turning and the ball bounced off her glove and fell to the ground. Taylor raced all the way to third base on the error. Martin and Jones both followed with walks to fill up the bases.
Junior Miranda Cleary hit a soft grounder near the left side of the infield and everybody was ruled safe, giving the third baseman a run-scoring infield single. Bertram followed with a bloop single just behind the pitcher's circle to keep the bases loaded and plate another run, making the score 7-3. The Lakers added an eighth run as first baseman Maggie Kopas reached on a fielder's choice, bringing in Jones from third base.
TWU continued to show resiliency by putting the first two batters on base in the bottom of the seventh inning. Santora was taken out of the game by head coach Doug Woods, being replaced by GLIAC Freshman of the Year Sara Andrasik. After an infield single by Vrazel loaded the bases, Andrasik issued a bases loaded walk to make the score 8-4.
Andrasik got a huge first out by retiring Hines (.392 average, 25 home runs entering the game) on an infield pop-up. She then struck out Kendra Sancet and retired Kelly on a flyball to right field to preserve the victory.
Santora battled for six innings against one of the top offensive teams in all of Division II. The Pioneers came into the game with a .334 team batting average and a whopping 75 home runs. In six innings in the circle, Santora allowed four earned runs on seven hits. She walked three batters and struck out three. The win puts Santora at 26-4 on the season. For Texas Woman's, Lander falls to 22-7 after allowing five earned runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings.
Briauna Taylor and Bertram each had two base hits, while six different Lakers had at least one RBI. Martin and Jones drove in two runs apiece, as Martin's double and Jones' homer were two of three extra base hits in the game. Taylor, Martin, and Jones all crossed home plate twice.
GVSU has faced Molloy one other time in school history; the Lakers won a 6-4 contest against the Lions on a spring break trip in 2011.