Cards held scoreless for 23 straight innings, drop to .500 in conference
Ferris, Grand Valley drop Cardinals to seventh in GLIAC with sweeps
April 23, 2007 —
With three runs in the first inning of Saturday's game, the weekend outlook for the Cardinals was looking favorable. But then they didn't score the rest of the weekend.
The Cards took a 3-0, first-inning lead at Ferris State, but were shut out the rest of that game, the next game, and then the next two. When it was all said and done, they were held scoreless for 23 straight innings as Ferris and Grand Valley both swept weekend doubleheaders.
The four losses dropped SVSU to seventh in the GLIAC at 8-8, just one game ahead of both Northwood and Hillsdale. After jumping out to a 6-2 conference record, the Cards have lost six of eight to fall back in the standings.
While Grand Valley and Ferris sit 1-2 atop the conference standings, coach Bill Graham certainly did not see this type of result coming.
He attributed his team's struggles to both quality pitching and an inability to hit.
"Grand Valley's pitchers are good, but we were in a funk," he said Sunday night. "Hitting is contagious. Sometimes you get one or two people who are hitting and then everyone starts to hit, but then sometimes you get one or two people who struggle and it affects everyone."
While most teams in the GLIAC sport one dominant pitcher and ride her to success, the Lakers have two such pitchers: Lori Andjelich, who improved in the first game to 13-3 with a 1.00 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 112.1 innings, and Stephanie Cole, who also improved to 13-3 and lowered her ERA 1.36.
Both of Sunday's games went just five innings, as the Lakers held an 8-0 lead after five in the first game and a 14-0 edge in the second game.
"We couldn't get anything going," Graham said. "It just wasn't our day today."
The Cards committed eight errors combined in the two games, including five in the second game that resulted in six unearned runs.
"Defensively, we couldn't make any plays," Graham added. "Everything just started to snowball. There was a tough wind and tough sun, but we didn't handle it well."
Things weren't much better for the Cardinals' pitchers, either. Freshman Kari Bowlby lasted just three innings in the first game, allowing seven runs on 10 hits. Sophomore Stacy Kraatz lasted even shorter, giving up eight runs - six earned - on 10 hits in just two innings.
Sophomore Mallory Miller came on in relief in both ganes, allowing one run in one inning in the first game and six runs - two earned - in three innings in the second game.
Kraatz was cruising in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, but the weekend fell apart in the bottom of the fifth.
SVSU held a 3-1 lead, but the Bulldogs scored three unearned runs take a 4-3 lead.
The Cards were completely shut down by the Bulldogs' Sarah Mueller after the first inning, and could only muster one hit after giving up the lead.
Ferris' ace, Holly Bruntjens, allowed just three hits in the second game as the Bulldogs used a three-run third inning and an insurance run in the fifth to win 4-0.Graham said he didn't know how his team would respond from its freefall from the top of the conference standings.
"We've faced adversity at times this season, but I'm not sure we've faced it like we did today," he said. "I don't know how we'll respond. We will see on Wednesday [at Northwood]."
The Cards may have their leader, senior Lorelea Rice, back for the doubleheader. Rice, out since the first week of the month with a broken bone in her hand, will begin practicing with the team today, Graham said.
"We're missing Lorelea on the field," he said. "We played very well without her for a while, but it's starting to catch up to us."
The doubleheader against Northwood will be crucial to where the Cardinals are seeded in the conference tournament, as will the team's final doubleheader, a April 29 home date with Gannon.
SVSU split a doubleheader against the rival Timberwolves on Thursday, winning the first game 3-1 before losing the second 8-5.
A doubleheader at Lake Superior State, which sits at 1-13 in the conference, is sandwhiched in between, on April 28.
While it will not be easy for the Cards to come back from Sault Ste. Marie and play the next day, Gannon, 8-4 in the conference, will also be tired. The Golden Knights host Ferris and Grand Valley on April 27 and 28, respectively, before having to travel to Saginaw for Sunday's doubleheader.
"Gannon is a team a lot like us," Graham said. "Those two games will determine where we fit in the tournament."