May 26, 2013
Salem, Va. - #9 Grand Valley State saw its season come to an end on Sunday afternoon (May 26), as the Lakers fell to Kutztown by a 7-2 score in the semifinals of the Division II National Championship. Kutztown advances to Monday's national championship game against Central Oklahoma, as GVSU's Final Four season ends with a 46-9 record.
Sunday's semifinal game was a rematch of Thursday's opening contest, when Kutztown captured a 3-1 victory over the Lakers. The Golden Bears, who have won 14 straight games and are a perfect 12-0 in this year's postseason, advance to the title game with a 37-21 record. GVSU's trip to the Division II World Series was the second-ever in school history.
The Lakers were able to plate a run in the first inning without the benefit of a base hit. Senior Nellie Kosola led off the game by reaching on a throwing error by the Kutztown shortstop. The ball trickled away from the KU first baseman after the low throw and Kosola raced to second base. She moved to third base on a groundout, senior Katie Martin was intentionally walked, and then Kosola scampered home on a wild pitch from Kutztown's Dominique Ficara for the game's first run.
Kutztown looked to even the tally on the scoreboard in its first at-bat. Although GVSU freshman pitcher Sara Andrasik did not allow a hit in the first inning, the Golden Bears put a pair of batters on base after consecutive one-out hit by pitches. There were two runners in scoring position when Andrasik, the 2013 GLIAC Freshman of the Year, struck out Maria Isgro to end the threat.
The Golden Bears tied the score in the bottom of the second inning, using a one-out walk to help do so. With two outs, Danielle Sienko drilled a pitch into the gap in right center field for her second double of the season. Brianna Knipe, who walked earlier in the frame, raced around from first base and slid in safely to knot the game at 1-1. The next batter, leadoff hitter Jackie Hetzler, doubled to left center field to bring Sienko into score, as Kutztown upped the lead to 2-1.
Andrasik was pulled after the consecutive doubles, as head coach Doug Woods entered First Team All-Midwest Region pitcher Hannah Santora into the contest. After a hit batter and an illegal pitch on what would have been the third out of the inning, Kutztown had two runners in scoring position with two outs. Katie Lynch then hit a soft liner that looked like it might fall in short left field, but junior shortstop Briauna Taylor made a tremendous leaping catch to end the inning and keep two more runs off the board.
GVSU put both the Taylor sisters on base in the top of the third inning, as Brittany Taylor led off with a bloop single to left field and Briauna Taylor reached on an infield single. The Taylors moved up on a flyball out, but Ficara worked her way out of trouble by getting an infield popup for the third out.
Kutztown loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth inning with a leadoff walk and consecutive bunt singles with one out. Lynch then lined a single in front of a diving Emily Jones in right field to bring in a pair of runs and make the score, 4-1. The controversial illegal pitches continued, as the Golden Bears had a run come in on another illegal pitch to up the advantage to 5-1. Woods made a move to replace Santora and bring Andrasik back into the game and the freshman worked out of trouble (two runners in scoring position) by getting a strikeout and a groundout.
The Golden Bears added two more runs in the fifth inning after starting the frame with a leadoff hit by pitch and a single. Two batters later, Morgan Booth tallied a two-run single to right field and Kutztown increased the lead to 7-1.
Grand Valley State got the score to 7-2 in the sixth inning after back-to-back one-out singles from Jones and junior Miranda Cleary, while both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Kayleigh Bertram then followed with a singled to left field, bringing Jones across the plate for the Lakers' second run.
Andrasik was saddled with the loss, pushing her rookie season record to 20-4. She allowed four runs on four hits in 4.1 innings in the circle. Santora gave up three runs on three hits in her final collegiate performance. Ficara moves to 21-12 with the win, going 5.1 innings and giving up two runs on six hits.
Bertram and Cleary each recorded two base hits, with Bertram tallying the lone RBI of the game for the Lakers. Kosola and Jones scored both of GVSU's runs. Bertram and Martin were both named to the Division II Softball Championship All-Tournament Team.
Grand Valley State's senior class closes its tremendous career with a 154-64 record, good for a .706 winning percentage. The eight Laker seniors were Bertram, KC Christopher, Emily Holt, Jones, Maggie Kopas, Kosola, Martin, and Santora. After that group went 22-24 in its freshman year of 2010, GVSU went 132-40 (.767 winning percentage) with three Midwest Regional tournament appearances, a pair of Midwest Super Regional berths, and a National Final Four showing.
In 11 NCAA Tournament appearances all-time, Grand Valley State is 35-23, including a 6-4 record in Division II World Series play.