After the 2022 season was canceled, the Grand Rapids Community College Softball team looks to bring excitement and excellence back under first year head coach Chuck White.
When asked what one of his goals are at GRCC, White said, “I’m looking to build a foundation along with a winning attitude here at GRCC. One of my main goals is to build team chemistry and maintain it every year.”
Before getting into the pre-season, it is important to outline why the team was not able to participate in 2022. Former head coach, Molly McKinney, told The Collegiate via email that she inherited the program with only one player committed before she signed nine more players who are currently on GRCC’s roster. Despite her recruiting efforts, the team was unable to compete due to a lack of players and the 2022 season was canceled.
Mckinney stated in the email, “The current coaching staff of Chuck White and Steve Roersma were my incoming assistant coaches that I encouraged to take over the program in order to leave the program in a better position than the previous coach had left me.”
This season, Roersma is continuing as an assistant coach and White believes the team will embrace a new culture in the first year back.
“There are only three players who tried out the year prior with the rest of the team being freshmen,” White said. “With that being said, I am trying to build a new culture here and it has been easy so far with the team being so coachable.”
White has 20 years of experience coaching at both the college and high school levels. White coached at Muskegon Orchard View High School for five years, boasting a 160-55 record, while also being an assistant for Muskegon Community College and starting a travel team, Lakeshore Storm.
Freshman infielder Brynn McArthur, who was recruited by coach McKinney, says coach White has immediately made an impact.
“I was recruited by coach Molly as a shortstop and third base last winter and then found out over the summer about coach White stepping in,” McArthur said. “Coach White really takes the time to work with you personally on the things you need to work on which I like.”
The Raiders traveled to Clermont, Florida over spring break and went 7-5 in the week span. In the final six games, the Raiders finished 4-2 while scoring seven plus runs in four of those games. The Raiders were not only led by their hitting, as one pitcher broke out in the few games she played.
“One player I was very impressed with in Florida was ace pitcher Izabella Regner,” White said. “She pitched 42 innings and had a total of 81 strikeouts.”
Both Regner and White believe the team got closer and learned lessons throughout their time in Florida.
“We started out a bit shaky but each game I saw growth throughout the entire roster,” Regner said. “Each game was a valiant team effort and we never gave up. Though we had some losses, there were many learning opportunities for us to absorb and use towards future competition.”
White agrees. “We went 7-5 in Florida but the main thing is we learned a lot about ourselves while working with each other,” White said. “As the tournament went on, we bonded better while performing better, as we mercied a Division II school.”
Despite not having a season last year, the team is expecting to have a competitive season along with improving as the season goes.
“My expectations for the team are growth and determination this year,” Regner said. “Each one of us is very talented and I expect every one of us to continue putting the work in everyday and to give it our all on the field.”
For coach White, he believes that his team will be competing in every game while having a chance at some hardware.
“Honestly, we will be very competitive this year and the more we play together the better we will be,” White said. “This team has a shot to win the conference and make the tournament this year.”
McArthur concurs with White, as she said, “I feel we all have high expectations for the season. We want to win obviously, and we have the team to do that if we play at our potential.”
Some strengths of this year’s team include ace pitching with the pitching group, a group of power hitters, and a team that has a distinctive culture.
“Some of the team’s strengths heading into the season include a group of coachable players, a few star pitchers, and a team that can hit the ball,” White said. “If we do end up in the tournament, we will be a tough team to beat because our ace pitcher is unbelievable.”
McArthur adds that the team chemistry is unlike any other team she has been on.
“We have it all when we play like we can and we get along well,” McArthur said. “Our coaches tell us that they have never coached a group of girls that get along as well as we do. We are all good friends and get along on and off the field.”
The Raiders first double-header takes place on Friday, March 24, at Belknap Park which starts at 2 p.m.
“I’m excited with the team’s work ethic heading into the season and I cannot wait to see this team compete this season,” White said.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on March 18 to correct information regarding the cancelation of the 2022 season. The number of recruited players was incorrect in a previous version of this story. The Collegiate apologizes for the error.