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FSU Softball At A Glance: The Ferris State University softball team will put its current six-game winning streak on the line this weekend (April 5-6) as the Bulldogs continue Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play with a pair of road doubleheader encounters. FSU takes on the Northwood University Timberwolves this Saturday (April 5) at NU’s Fisher Stadium in Midland, Mich. Ferris then faces the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals this Sunday (April 6) at the SVSU Softball Complex in University Center, Mich. Both of the GLIAC doubleheaders will get underway at 1 p.m. (EDT) with game two to follow 20 minutes upon the opener's conclusion. The Bulldogs host the Cornerstone University Golden Eagles Monday (April 7) in a non-conference twinbill at the FSU Softball Field in Big Rapids, Mich. Game one is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. (EDT).
The 2008 Season: Ferris State improved to 11-7 overall and 4-0 in the GLIAC with home league sweeps of Gannon and Mercyhurst this past weekend (March 29-30) at the FSU Softball Field in Big Rapids, Mich. The Bulldogs are 7-8 at neutral sites, 0-0 at home, and 0-0 on the road this season.
Northwood sported an 11-12 overall record and was 1-1 in the GLIAC after splitting a conference home twinbill against Lake Superior State last Sunday (March 30) in Midland, Mich. The Timberwolves prevailed 10-2 over the Lakers in a five-inning encounter before being dealt a 6-4 loss in the second game. NU is scheduled to host Saginaw Valley State this Thursday (April 3) in a league doubleheader.
Saginaw Valley State is currently 16-6 overall and 2-0 in the GLIAC after recording a league series sweep of Lake Superior State last Saturday (March 29) in University Center, Mich. The Cardinals notched a 10-0 five-inning win in the opening game and then claimed a 6-1 triumph in the nightcap. SVSU will visit Northwood this Thursday (April 3) in a conference doubleheader. The Cardinals were among those teams receiving votes in the latest (April 2) National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Top 25 Poll.
Cornerstone dropped to 4-10 overall and 0-0 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) as a result of suffering a pair of non-league losses to Bethel (Ind.) on March 26 in Mishawaka, Ind. The Golden Eagles traveled to Aquinas this Wednesday (April 2) for a pair of non-conference games in Grand Rapids, Mich., before visiting Siena Heights this Saturday (April 5) in Adrian, Mich., for a pair of WHAC contests.
Last Week: The Bulldogs went 4-0 this past week with a pair of conference home doubleheaders sweeps of Gannon (March 29) and Mercyhurst (March 30) at the FSU Softball Field in Big Rapids, Mich. Three of the four Ferris State victories were shutouts.
The Coach: Ferris State – Keri Becker (Saginaw Valley State, 1995), 11th season, 324-217-1 (.599) – (24-17-0 vs. Northwood, 18-11-0 vs. Saginaw Valley State, 4-0-0 vs. Cornerstone). Becker, the all-time winningest coach in Ferris State Softball history, has guided the Bulldogs to consecutive (1998-99) NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament appearances. The 1998 squad placed third nationally while the 1999 team set a school record for single-season victories (46 total). Becker has twice been recognized as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (GLIAC) Coach of the Year (1997 and 2003).
2008 GLIAC Coaches Preseason Poll: Ferris State was selected to finish tied for third place in the 2008 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Softball Coaches Preseason Poll with 79 points and one first-place vote. The Bulldogs tied Gannon, which had two first-place votes, for third place honors. Wayne State was tabbed as the conference favorite as the Warriors received 94 points along with four first-place votes. Grand Valley State earned second place in the 11-team poll with 89 points and four first-place votes. Northwood was selected to place sixth with 54 points while Northwood was picked seventh with 49 points.
The Series: Ferris State is 47-38-1 versus Northwood, 34-43-0 against Saginaw Valley State, and 4-0-0 versus Cornerstone.
36th Season – The 2008 campaign represents the 36th season of varsity competition for the Ferris State Softball program. The Bulldogs are 681-624-3 overall (.522) since the program’s inception in 1973. During that period, FSU has compiled 15 20-plus win seasons, including three consecutive (1997-99) 40 or more victory campaigns.
A Season Ago – Ferris State split a regular-season doubleheader against Northwood in Big Rapids last season (4/22), suffering a 6-5 loss in the opener before posting a 3-0 victory in the nightcap. FSU swept Saginaw Valley State in a home league twinbill (4/21) in Big Rapids, winning 4-3 and 4-0 over the Cardinals.
Impressive – During its six-game winning streak, Ferris State has outscored its opponent by a 40-6 margin. The Bulldogs have produced 75% (30-40) of their runs in the first three innings, which includes a 17-5 first-inning scoring advantage. Junior pitcher Sarah Mueller (Santa Clairita, Calif./Valencia) is batting a team-high .563 average (9-16) with four extra-base hits and six RBIs during that six-game span while posting a 3-0 mark in the pitching circle with a 1.00 earned run average and 12 strikeouts in 21.0 innings.
Long Ball – Junior first baseman Amanda Jager (Kalamazoo/Comstock) is off to a hot start as she owns a team-leading .367 batting average through 19 games this season. She also leads the Bulldogs with a .633 slugging percentage (10 doubles and one home run).
Match Game – Sophomore designated player-pitcher Rhea Flores (Dearborn Heights/Southgate Anderson) is one hit away from matching her 2007 season total of seven in 22 official plate appearances in which she produced a .318 batting average in 20 games. Flores, who had a career-high three hits in as many at bats against Gannon (3/29), has compiled six hits in 17 at bats to date this spring for a .353 average.
Marked Improvement – Sophomore second baseman Amanda Harrington (St. Joseph/Stevensville-Lakeshore) is batting .345 (20-58) in the team’s initial 19 contests this spring compared to hitting .294 (15-51)?a season ago in 16 of the squad’s first 19 contests played in.
NCAA Rankings – The Bulldogs are ranked 11th nationally in doubles per game (1.89 avg.) while being listed 50th in earned run average (2.17) thru games of March 30. Individually, Amanda Jager is eighth in doubles (0.53) and 22nd in walks (0.74). Holly Bruntjens ranks 16th in sacrifice hits (0.39) while Sarah Mueller is 19th in triples (0.16).
Among The Top Three – Senior third baseman Katie Kraai (Zeeland) has compiled 40 doubles in 168 career games to rank third on FSU’s all-time charts. Kraai, who has a team second-most eight doubles in 19 outings this season, is one shy of moving into a second-place tie with Jody Gifford (1996-99; 41 total). Anne Bentley (1997-00) holds the school mark with 43 career doubles.
Preseason Ranking – The Bulldogs were ranked 25th nationally in the 2008 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll. FSU, which finished the 2007 season ranked 22nd in the NFCA’s final poll, received nine points in the 2008 preseason poll which was released Jan. 30.