The Grand Rapids Community College softball team entered the week of April 10 with a 12-10 record while awaiting two different matchups. In a double-header hosted by Alma College, the Raiders split against the Alma College JV team, winning the first game 10-2 and dropping the second one 16-2. Later in the week, from April 14-15 the Raiders hosted Alpena Community College at Belknap Park, and GRCC beat APC 3-2 in the series.
In the first game of the double-header against Delta, the Raiders were led by Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) Player of the Week April 10-17 and freshman ace Izabella Regner. Freshman Lauren James started the game strong with a single through the middle of the field which brought in two runs.
Alma College JV answered with one run in the second inning, but they couldn’t prepare for what was coming in the next two innings. In the top of the third inning, redshirt sophomore Annika Roersma drove in a run with a double to left center which brought in freshman Samara Kolehouse. The Raiders added to the lead in the fourth inning, as freshman Brynn McArthur and Kolehouse both had RBI’s. With an 8-2 lead, Kolehouse continued her success with a home run in the top of the sixth inning bringing the score to 10-2. Regner finished the game forcing a groundout which led to the 10-2 victory.
The second game was an inverse of the prior game, as the Raiders struggled on both sides of the bat, losing 16-2. Both teams struggled in the first inning, but Alma scored 10 runs in the span of two innings. In the third inning, Regner doubled to left field which brought in freshman Alyssa Wierenga to score the first run for the Raiders. GRCC’s final run came in the seventh inning when Regner singled which brought in freshman Jaye Guichelaar. Regardless, the Raiders dropped the second game of the double-header
Moving to the Alpena series, the Raiders continued their hot streak when Regner pitched, as they won the first game 5-0. In seven innings, Regner produced 11 strikeouts while only allowing three hits. On offense, the Raiders scored their runs in an intermittent fashion, as McArthur doubled in the first inning to give a 2-0 lead. Later in the fifth inning, James hit a sacrifice run, as she grounded out to second while freshman Carly Sluiter scored to make the lead 3-0. To finish, Guichelaar singled past first base which led to multiple Lumberjack errors. The Raiders finished the shutout and looked to sweep the double-header.
Although the Raiders had a dominant defensive performance in game one, they struggled to maintain the hitting attack from ACC. Both teams started off hot, as the Raiders took a 2-1 lead entering the second inning. Each team traded runs in the third inning, but the Lumberjacks jumped to a 10-3 lead by the bottom of the sixth inning. To cut into the lead, Roersma hit an inside the park home run, making the score 10-5. The seventh inning brought fireworks for both teams, as both teams combined for eight runs in the last inning. Starting in the top of the seventh, the Lumberjacks scored four runs by slowly chipping away at the Raiders. GRCC fought until the end as they finished the seventh inning with four earned runs, but they would fall short 14-9.
Following the loss, the Raiders played three games the following day and gave the Raiders an opportunity to win the series outright. In the first game which only lasted six innings, the Raiders defeated the Lumberjacks 9-1 following another impressive performance on the mound for Regner. She had 11 strikeouts with a total of 20 at-bats, which resulted in only one hit for the Lumberjacks. At the plate, a multitude of Raiders got involved offensively, as freshman Madison Lemke had two RBI’s, Guichelaar scored multiple times for the Raiders, and Roersma continued her stirring week at the plate. By the sixth inning, the Raiders held a comfortable 7-1 lead, and scored two more runs, putting the final score at 9-1.
In the second game, the Raiders faced heavy adversity early in the game, but did not give up throughout the game. The Lumberjacks started the first inning with a three-run home run and then added two runs in the second inning. Trailing 5-0, the Raiders responded with two runs in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to three runs. However, the Lumberjacks answered with two runs in the fifth, but the Raiders continued to fight back. A James single in the bottom of the fifth scored two Raiders, and later a Kolehouse single put the Raiders in striking distance only trailing 7-6. But the Raiders rally ended early as the Lumberjacks held onto the victory 8-7. In the final game of the series, Regner dominated on the mound while completing a shutout. The Raiders scored one run in the first, and then followed that with a three-run inning in the bottom of the fifth. GRCC controlled the rest of the game winning by a score of 4-0.
The following weekend, from April 21-23, GRCC hosted Muskegon Community College in an important series to determine the conference champion. In the first game, the Raiders were boosted by Regner’s pitching, as she only allowed one run in the entirety of the game along with 10 strikeouts. Regner also shined at the plate, as she had two RBI’s, driving in Guichelaar both times. The Raiders finished the game strong, winning 3-1.
The second game of the double-header went completely opposite of the first game. The Jayhawks used the first three innings to gain a sizable lead, as they led 12-0 heading into the fourth inning. GRCC scored two runs in the final two innings, as a Kolehouse single would bring in two runs and a Guichelaar groundout scored another. The game was stopped after the fifth inning due to the Jayhawk lead.
After the loss, the Raiders had three more chances to get ahead of the Jayhawks. Their first chance looked promising, as GRCC scored two runs in the first inning due to a McArthur single. However, the Jayhawks zoned in for the next five innings, as they shut out the Raiders while scoring six runs in the fifth inning. A Wierenga single scored the Raiders final run, but it was too late as the Jayhawks defeated GRCC 8-3.
In the final two games, the team compiled back-to-back impressive performances, as the Raiders held the Jayhawks to a combined six runs. Led by Regner, GRCC won the first game in a dog-fight like game, as the Raiders jumped to a 5-1 lead, but managed to hang on by a score of 6-5. At the plate, McArthur had two RBIs and Regner had two runs. Regner also had 13 strikeouts in a gritty win. Following the game, the Raiders faced the Jayhawks for a final time, and Regner continued her excellence on the mound. McArthur continued her hot-streak as she started the game with an RBI single to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. The Jayhawks answered with their lone run in the top of the sixth inning, however, GRCC responded immediately with a Wierenga single and a Guichelaar sac-fly to regain the lead 4-1. With the pressure on in the top of the seventh inning and two runners on base, Regner finished the last batter to win the game and series for the Raiders.
Heading into the last series of the regular season, GRCC set their eyes on a conference championship. They traveled to Bay College in Escanaba, from April 27-28. In the two-day series, the Raiders dominated as they won four out of five games. The first game was a complete domination, as Regner allowed only two runs and the GRCC offense produced eight runs led by Wierenga, Regner, and Madison Lemke. Following the game, the Raiders continued their success at the plate as they scored 15 runs in the next game. This was a back-and-forth game as Bay College scored the first four runs, then GRCC answered with nine runs in two innings, and lastly, the Raiders outscored Bay College 6-0 in the last two innings to win the game 15-9.
In the final three games, GRCC stayed consistent at the plate, as they averaged 13.3 runs per game while winning two of the three games. Regner pitched in the two wins which brought her record to 18-3 on the mound. The Raiders scored 10 runs in the final inning to win 16-4 in the first game, struggled to contain the Norse in the second game losing 12-8, and defeated Bay College 16-5 in a five inning game to end the regular season.
GRCC finished the regular season with a 23-16 record, a 15-10 conference record and a share for the conference championship. The Raiders will get some much needed rest before they travel to LYSBA field in Stevensville for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Regional Great Lakes Tournament. Their opponent is to be determined and the games start on May 11 and end on May 13.