May 23, 2013
Salem, Va. - #9 Grand Valley State dropped a 3-1 contest to Kutztown on Thursday afternoon (May 23) in the opening round of the Division II Softball Championship. The Golden Bears, who are a perfect 10-0 in this year's postsason play, got out to a 2-0 advantage in the first inning and held the lead for the remainder of the contest. All three KU runs were unearned.
The loss puts Grand Valley State at 44-8 on the year. GVSU will not play on Friday, but the Lakers will take the field again on Saturday afternoon (May 25) at 2:30 p.m. against the loser of the Texas Woman's-Humboldt State game. That contest was to take place after the GVSU-Kutztown match-up, but heavy rain in the area postponed the start of that game until Friday (May 24) at 12:00 p.m.
Kutztown (35-21 overall) jumped ahead in its first at-bat. Morgan Booth beat out a one-out infield single, but was thrown out two pitches later trying to steal second base, as catcher Emily Holt threw out her 12th attempted baserunner of the year. With two outs, Katie Lynch reached base as first baseman Maggie Kopas was pulled off the bag on a throw from across the diamond.
The next batter, cleanup hitter Colleen Smith, drilled her 14th home run of the season, a two-run shot to right field for a 2-0 lead. Both runs off of GVSU starter Hannah Santora were unearned due to the throwing error.
The Lakers were able to get half of the deficit back in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, senior Katie Martin, earlier in the day named the Daktronics National Player of the Year, hit a mammoth home run to left field, easily clearing the fence and making the score 2-1.
That solo shot gave Martin 238 career RBI, tying her with former Laker great Kim Biskup for the Grand Valley State all-time record. It was also Martin's 20th home run of the year, tying her 2011 total, and giving her 59 career roundtrippers. She is fifth all-time in Division II history in home runs.
GVSU was able to load the bases in the bottom of the third inning, as junior Brittany Taylor walked and moved up on a single by senior Nellie Kosola. Both runners advanced on a flyout to foul territory in right field. Martin was then intentionally walked for the 14th time in her career, the third-most in Division II history. Kutztown hurler Dominique Ficara worked out of the jam by inducing a groundout to end the threat.
In the fifth inning, the Lakers used back-to-back hits from Brittany Taylor and Kosola, but a heads-up defensive play from Kutztown caught Taylor in a rundown for the second out. Moments later, relief pitcher Mary Kociencki forced a groundball for the third out of the inning.
Kutztown upped the lead to 3-1 after starting the sixth inning with two outs and nobody on base. After a Laker error and a soft single through the left side of the infield, Brianna Knipe also blooped a single to left field. It was just out of the reach of a diving Briauna Taylor, bringing home Maria Isgro for a 3-1 Golden Bear advantage.
Relief pitcher Sara Andrasik came into the game in the seventh inning to relieve Santora. Andrasik hit a pair of Golden Bears to put a runner in scoring position, but struck out power hitter Smith to end the KU threat.
Kopas started things off in the bottom of the seventh inning with a double over the head of the Kutztown right fielder. The next three batters, however, went down in order, clinching the win for the Golden Bears.
Santora was the tough-luck loser, not allowing an earned run in six innings in the circle. She falls to 25-4 on the year, giving up three runs on five hits. The senior walked one batter and fanned two. For Kutztown, Ficara (19-12) earned the victory, giving up one run on three hits in four innings. Kociencki pitched three innings of three-hit relief to tally her second save.
GVSU is now 33-22 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, including a 4-3 record in two appearances at the Division II World Series.