Allendale, Mich. – A memorable Ferris State University softball campaign came to a close on Saturday (May 11) in extra innings during an elimination game at the 2013 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament hosted by Grand Valley State in Allendale.
After a delayed start, the Bulldogs took the early advantage before eventually falling 5-2 in nine innings to the region's sixth-seed Southern Indiana at the GVSU Softball Field.
Ferris State concluded the 2013 campaign with a 29-16 overall record and the careers of seven talented seniors came to an end with the setback.
The game was originally set to begin at 1:30 p.m. (ET), but was delayed for more than two and a half hours due to rain, which came following the winner's bracket contest earlier in the day between host Grand Valley State and Missouri-St. Louis. The field was tarped and once the rain subsided, the tarp was removed and the field readied for play before warmups could resume.
Finally, the game got underway with the first pitch by FSU's Dana Bowler at 4:13 p.m. (ET).
The Bulldogs scored the first run of the game in the bottom half of the first inning. Freshman leadoff hitter Alyssa Smith reached first on a base hit and then was sacrificed to second. As she attempted to steal third, the pickoff throw sailed into center field and she scored on a slide into home to beat the throw.
After two scoreless innings followed, the Screaming Eagles picked up a pair of hits in the fourth and tied the game up 1-1 before the Bulldogs got out of the inning. Both teams struggled to put a run across from that point forward, however.
In the bottom of the seventh, FSU's Amy Dunleavy reached first base on a dropped fly ball in center field. With one out, Liz Hamming advanced to first base on a throwing error and pinch runner Taylor Verbic moved to third as the Bulldogs had the potential winning run in scoring position. But, USI turned a double play to end the threat and the game went to extra innings.
Following a scoreless eighth frame, USI put runners at second and third base in the top of the ninth after a dropped ball in the outfield. With one out, Southern Indiana's Brooke Harmening slide into home on a fielder's choice and was called safe under the tag of Hamming on a close call argued by the Bulldogs. The Screaming Eagles loaded the bases soon after with two outs and took a 3-1 lead as FSU walked in a run. The lead grew to 5-1 on a two RBI hit from Janna Green, which marked the first official hit of the inning for USI.
Ferris State opened the bottom half of the ninth with back-to-back singles from Lainee Clay and Dunleavy. Senior Lindsey Pettit followed with an RBI double to center field to cut the margin to 5-2. However, the Screaming Eagles answered with a pair of outs and then sealed the victory with a called third strike to end the game.
Bowler went the distance for the Bulldogs in her final collegiate game and allowed only five runs on five hits. The school's all-time strikeout leader had six K's and walked four in closing the year with a 21-10 pitching mark.
For Southern Indiana, Harmening also hurled all nine innings and improved to 21-12 this season. She allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
The two teams combined for six errors while battling windy conditions as USI totaled four and the Bulldogs had two. A total of 13 runners were also left on base between the two squads with USI stranding seven compared to six for the Bulldogs.
Pettit had the lone extra base hit for the Bulldogs with her seventh double of the year in the bottom of the ninth. Senior Morgan Kramerich also recorded a sacrifice hit for FSU while Smith tallied her squad-best 19th stolen base of the season.
Smith had two hits for the Bulldogs while Clay, Dunleavy, Pettit and Rachael Gabrielson each had one. Pettit had FSU's lone RBI of the game.
Both Green and Harmening had two hits apiece for the Screaming Eagles, who did not have an extra base hit in the contest. Gree and Kyla Gogel each had a pair of RBI's as Southern Indiana advanced to face Missouri-St. Louis in the loser's bracket final with the winner moving on to the championship round Sunday to face host and unbeaten Grand Valley State in the four-team regional.
Ferris State's 29-16 overall mark this season came in the initial campaign under head coach Marie Foster. It marked the 10th consecutive year in which the Bulldogs won at least 24 games in a season. FSU also finished as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) runner-up in regular-season play with a 20-6 league record.
The Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history this year and it represented the Bulldogs' fifth trip to the postseason since 2005.