No. 12 Express Softball Defeats GRCC and Ancilla, But Lose to KVCC To Conclude Historic Two-Year Run
By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Battle Creek, MI---The No. 12 Express softball team defeated Grand Rapids Community College and Ancilla College, but were eliminated from the Region XII District G tournament yesterday with a 9-1 loss to No. 10 Kalamazoo Valley Community College in the loser's bracket finals.
The sophomore class, however, ended their two-year stint as the winningest class in program history.
Game 1: Owens CC 4 Grand Rapids CC 2
Kenny Craig delivered her biggest hit of the season in one of the biggest moments of the season as the Express defeated GRCC in a loser's bracket quarterfinal matchup.
Just after GRCC had taken a 2-1 lead in the top half of the fifth, Craig delivered a pinch hit, two-run single up the middle with the bases loaded to give the Express a 3-2 lead in the bottom half.
Ashlyn Michalak started in the circle for the Express, but was relieved by Kasey Graham with a runner on second and one out in the fifth inning. That's when GRCC rallied with three straight two out singles to take the lead before Craig's hit gave the Express the lead back.
In the seventh, Michalak re-entered for Graham. GRCC got a single and a walk with one out to put runners on first and second, but Michalak struck out the next two batters to earn her fourth save of the season.
Graham (13-1) picked up the win in relief, while Casey Cherry (8-9) took the loss for GRCC.
Michalak allowed two hits, one run and two walks while striking out eight in 5.1 innings combined. Graham allowed four hits, one run and zero walks in 1.2 innings. She struck out one.
Cherry allowed three hits, four runs, and four walks in 5.1 innings. She also hit four batters, while striking out four. Emily Karbutowski pitched 0.2 innings in relief of Cherry.
Craig finished 1-for-1 with two RBIs, while Hollister was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Melanie Iacoangeli was 1-for-2 with a run and two walks. Hall had the other hit for the Express, who finished with four hits.
With the loss, GRCC ended its season 29-24.
Game 2: Owens CC 5 Ancilla College 3
The Express scored five runs in the third inning to help advance past Ancilla College in a loser's bracket semifinal matchup.
Hall and Tabitha Britt delivered the two biggest hits og the game during the five run rally, which started on a bunt single from Alyssa Lassey. Following a walk by Iacoangeli and a double steal from Iacoangeli and Lassey, Britt lined a two-run double to deep left center to put the Express up 2-0.
After Hollister reached on an error, her and Britt pulled off another double steal to put runners back on second and third. Hall then drove a two-run single through the middle to make it 4-0. Hall advanced to second on the throw home.
Following that, Hall stole third and scored on a throwing error by Ancilla's catcher.
Ancilla attempted to rally back with one run in the fifth off Express reliever Lexi Sheets, and two runs off Graham in the sixth. Graham induced an inning ending, rally killing double play in the sixth with the bases loaded to keep the Express up 5-3.
In the seventh, Ancilla got a leadoff single, but another double play killed that potential rally. Graham then got the final out on a groundout to Barron at third.
Sheets (11-2) picked up the win in relief after allowing four hits, one run and four walks with two strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Graham allowed five hits, two runs and one walk while striking out one in two innings.
Michalak started the game for the Express. She allowed only two walks and nothing else in 1.1 innings.
Trisha Dillon started and took the loss for Ancilla. She allowed six hits, five runs (four earned) and one walk while striking out three in three innings. Emily Steele pitched the final three innings for Ancilla and allowed only one hit while striking out two.
Britt finished 2-for-3 with a double, a run and two RBIs, while Hall was 1-for-3 with a run, two RBIs and a stolen base. Lassey, Mareshah Scott, Hollister and Iacoangeli each also picked up a hit, while Iacoangeli stole three bases.
With the loss, Ancilla ended its season at 37-18.
Game 3: No. 10 Kalamazoo Valley CC 9 Owens CC 1 (6 Innings)
Hall hit a line drive, two-out double down the left field line to put the Express up 1-0 in the top of the first inning after Britt doubled to right center with one out. However, KVCC scored six runs with two outs in the bottom half of the third on their way to a 9-1 win over the Express.
Michalak started before being pulled with two outs in the third. She allowed seven hits, six runs and two walks with one strikeout in 2.2 innings. Graham pitched the final three innings and allowed seven hits and three runs.
Up 6-1 entering the bottom half of the sixth, KVCC scored three times off Graham to end the game due to the run rule.
Jacy Hagelgans pitched a complete game to pick up the win for KVCC. She allowed only three hits, one run and two walks while striking out two in six innings.
Britt, Hall and Barron picked up the three hits for the Express, while Hollister and Olivia Reeder each had a walk.
Reeder caught the first 17 innings during the three games before being replaced by Craig in the fourth inning against KVCC.
KVCC (38-9) advanced to the finals, where they took on Muskegon CC. Owens finished in third place.
The Express finished their season 41-7 overall. With that win total, the sophomore class became the winningest class in program history as they combined for an overall record of 85-12. They won two OCCAC titles, one Region XII District G championship, and were the national runner-up last year, which is the highest finish any women's sport at Owens has achieved. No other class in program history as back-to-back 40 plus win seasons.
The third place finish in this year's District G tourney ended a streak of three straight District G championship game appearances for the Express softball program.
Iacoangeli finished her freshman year with team highs in batting average (.538) and steals (66) - just short of two school records (Kylie Zweifel hit .541 with 72 steals in the 2005-06 season). Another freshman outfielder, Scott, hit .458 with 33 steals in 33 attempts while scoring a team-high 50 runs. The two of them combined to steal 99 bases.
Four freshmen (Iacoangeli, Scott, Sinay and Lassey) hit over .400. Iacoangeli led the team in walks with 20.
Hollister finished with 48 RBIs, a team-high, and finished her career with 87 RBIs. She hit .383 with 18 doubles and 37 runs this year. The school record for most doubles in a season is 23 - set by Alaina Haubert last season. Hollister was the only player to start all 48 games this year.
Michalak finished her two-year career with a 28-5 record. During her sophomore season, she accumulated a 1.56 ERA in 147.2 innings. She struck out 202 batters this year and had 279 career strikeouts.
Graham finished her career with an 18-1 record. She had a 2.12 ERA in 89.1 innings this year - with 74 career strikeouts (49 this year).
As a team, the Express pitching staff (Michalak, Graham and Sheets) had a 1.93 ERA in 305 innings. All three won at least 11 games. Meanwhile, the Express offense hit .356 as a team. 11 players had better than a .300 batting average.
After playing sparingly during her freshman year, Britt burst onto the scene as a sophomore in the #2 slot in the lineup. She hit .339 with 26 runs, seven doubles, three triples and one home run (a grand slam against Lakeland), and 26 RBIs. Her RBI total was third on the team behind Hollister's 48 and Barron's 30.
Barron had a team-high 10 sacrifice flies. Her 30 RBIs was second on the team behind Hollister.