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2008 FERRIS STATE SOFTBALL -- BLOG TWO

Katie Kraai
Ferris State's Katie Kraai, a senior third baseman, takes a big swing at the plate during a game at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photo by Sandy Gholston).

‘Just a matter of time’ before Ferris’ offense comes to life

By Sandy Gholston

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Its understandable if first baseman Amanda Jager and her teammates felt a little concerned as their offense sputtered a bit during their first day of competition at the Rebel Spring Games inside of the Osceola County Softball Complex.

For the first six innings of their opening game, the Bulldogs struggled to do much of anything against St. Joseph’s (Ind.) starting pitcher Sara Somogyi. There was, however, no panic button pressed. Then, at practically the proverbial 11th hour, Ferris’ offense finally came to life – albeit aided by fielding miscues from the regional rival Pumas. Ferris’ hitting confidence returned and soared and the rest was – as some people like to say – history. The Bulldogs escaped with a 4-3 nine-inning big regional win, over St. Joseph’s, and ended the day in style with another important victory against a regional foe – a stunningly-easy 10-2 triumph over Northern Kentucky in just five innings.

“It did take us a while to get our bats going (Saturday), but then again we were also facing a good pitcher (Somogyi) and that had something to do with it,” said Jager, who has moved over to first base this spring to take over for Laura Crower, who had become a mainstay for the Bulldogs at that corner. “Then, after struggling to hit the ball in the first game … we really got it going in the second game.”

That was indeed the case as the Bulldogs confidence soared in its second game of the day – against a Northern Kentucky team that, perennially, has ranked among the best teams in the region and in the nation. The Bulldogs rolled to a decisive rout of the Norse, in just five innings due to the mercy rule, to begin the spring 2-0. While Florida has been a place where the offense has struggled to get going early, over the years, Saturday’s nightcap was the perfect ending to the first day of competition on the diamond for Ferris.

With the GLIAC shaping up to be one tough doubleheader after another, the Bulldogs now understand they must have their “A+” game from start to finish to match last year’s achievements (reaching the NCAA Division II Tournament) or perhaps go even beyond that. That “A+” game looked good on Saturday against NKU. In the circle, steady junior pitcher Holly Bruntjens’ patented drop ball was practically unhittable as she ended up with seven strikeouts and kept the Norse off balance from start to finish while she was out there.

At the plate, Ferris was at least as impressive swinging the bat with 10 runs on 12 hits, three players with more than one hit. On top of that, the Bulldogs got help from one of their rookies as freshman outfielder Lynsay Weaver belted a 2-run homer to fire up her teammates a little more. Junior catcher Krystle Bailey, senior third baseman Katie Kraai and junior shortstop McKenzie West all had at least two hits – including Bailey’s 3-for-3 effort with the bat.

“It felt amazing when we finally got it going against Northern Kentucky,” Jager said as she finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored in the win over NKU after she scored the winning run in the day's opening win over St. Joseph's. “We have good pitchers and going against them everyday in practice has been making us better and giving us even more confidence. We felt like, even though we struggled in the first game, that it was only a matter of time before we adjusted to what was happening and really started to hit the ball the way we know that we can hit it.”

Hopefully, for the young Bulldogs, it’s just a sign of more good times to come.

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