Grand Valley State uses four-run inning to defeat Molloy 5-2 in quarterfinals
SALEM, Va. -- Grand Valley State used another four-run inning and five extra-base hits to stay alive in the Division II Softball Championship with a 5-2 victory against Molloy on Saturday. It was the second win of the day for GVSU, who earlier beat Texas Woman's by an 8-4 count, which also featured a key four-run inning in that victory.
The Lakers advance to the College World Series semifinals. With its two wins on Saturday, Grand Valley State moved to 45-8 on the season. Molloy's year ended with a 54-13 record. GVSU was able to win a pair of elimination games on Saturday, scoring four runs in the fifth inning of both victories.
Grand Valley State will face Kutztown on Sunday. If the Lakers win, the teams will play again with the loser of that game being eliminated. In the other semifinal, Central Oklahoma (2-0 in the tournament) will face Armstrong Atlantic State (with one loss), with AASU needing to beat Central Oklahoma twice to advance to Monday's national championship game.
On Saturday night, both the Lakers' Sara Andrasik and Molloy's Megan Butterworth got off to good starts in the opening inning. Andrasik worked around a one-out walk to end the inning on a strikeout, while Butterworth gave up a two-out double to Laker senior Katie Martin, but no further damage occurred.
Molloy put a runner on second base with one out in the second inning, but Andrasik got a fly ball and ground ball to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the frame, senior first baseman Maggie Kopas crushed her first home run of the season, a solo shot to left field to put the Lakers ahead by a 1-0 count. The roundtripper was the fourth of Kopas' career.
The Lions answered in their next at-bat as the first two Molloy hitters reached on a single and a walk. With the runners on second and third base with two outs, Milan Botte hit a ground ball up the middle that GVSU shortstop Briauna Taylor was able to snag, but her throw to first base was low. Kopas was unable to get a clean scoop on the throw and both Lion runners raced around to score, putting Molloy on top 2-1.
With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Briauna Taylor walked and Martin reached on an intentional walk. Senior Emily Jones then ripped a shot back up the middle that Butterworth managed to knock down with her glove. That likely saved a run, as Taylor had to stop at third base on the single, rather than coming around to score the game-tying run. Butterworth then ended the bases-loaded threat on a fly ball to left field.
Grand Valley State, which scored four runs in the fifth inning of its win against Texas Woman's earlier on Saturday, added another four-spot in the fifth inning against Molloy. Senior Nellie Kosola led off the frame with a single to left center field. Two batters later, Martin was again intentionally walked, but this time the Lakers made that intentional walk a costly mistake.
With runners on first and second base, Jones hit a long fly ball that hit midway up the wall in left-center field for an RBI double, with Kosola strolling in to tie the game at two. Junior Miranda Cleary, who has a few clutch hits this postseason, then came up big again. Cleary powered a long ball to right-center field, easily clearing the fence for a huge go-ahead three-run homer. It was her ninth roundtripper of the year and the 37th blast of Cleary's three-year career.
Briauna Taylor came up with another key defensive play in the top of the sixth. After making a terrific over-the-shoulder catch earlier in the game, Taylor took a ground ball up the middle, stepped on second for a force out and fired over to Kopas for a big inning-ending double play.
Andrasik then worked through the seventh inning in no time, getting two pop ups on a ground out to end the game and seal the deal on her two-hitter. The 2013 GLIAC Freshman of the Year improved to 20-3 on the season. She gave up two hits and two unearned runs, while walking three batters and striking out just one Lion. For Molloy, Butterworth fell to 28-7 after allowing five earned runs in six innings.
Of GVSU's seven hits, five went for extra bases -- doubles to Martin, Jones, and Kayleigh Bertram and the home runs to Kopas and Cleary. Six different Lakers notched a base hit, as Jones (2-for-3, run, RBI) was the lone player in the game with more than one hit. Martin recorded a pair of walks and Cleary notched three RBIs.
Kutztown knocked off GVSU by a 3-1 score in both team's opening game at the World Series on Thursday. The Golden Bears lead the all-time series against Grand Valley State by a 3-2 margin as the teams have met each of the past four seasons.