By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
Muskegon Community College Jayhawk softball coach Matt Houseman was looking to send a message to his team on Saturday afternoon.
And, that lesson in leadership came against a top-notch team in the Raiders from Grand Rapids Community College. The result was a 10-3 loss in the first game of a Western Conference doubleheader.
“We’re struggling with leadership issues and so we’re trying to get kids to step up and do what they need to do to get to where we want to be at,” Houseman said. “It’s more mental than physical and this probably the most talented team we’ve had, but we struggle a little bit mentally. I’m trying to force my sophomores to get outside their comfort zone and play the game the right way.”
Houseman opted to go with an all-freshman starting lineup in Game 1, including pitcher Kaitlyn Pirochta, who was making just her second start and had pitched a few innings here and there out of the bullpen.
“It (starting all freshmen) is probably the first time it’s happened since I’ve been here,” said Houseman, who is in his seventh season. “I’m really proud of them, they played hard.”
A couple pitches were elevated and the heavy hitting Raiders took advantage of it.
In the second inning, Danielle Goad belted a two-run homer over the centerfield fence and GRCC led 2-0.
Muskegon clawed back in the bottom of the second and scored once. Kelly Barnes ripped a single off the glove of a diving Shelby Roush at second base. She stole second then Mary Guidice walked. One out later, Emily Peake singled to center to score Guidice from second.
Grand Rapids increased the lead to 4-1 in the third inning on a Roush bunt that scored Megan Lee from second base. Then Megan Galganski singled to make plate another run.
The fourth inning is when the game really got away from the Jayhawks. The visitors plated six runs with the highlight being a three-run homer over the centerfield fence by Amanda Steig, the No. 9 hitter in the Raider lineup. Later in the inning, Galganski plated two runs with a single.
Muskegon got one run back in the bottom of the fourth on a home run by Peake that sailed over the right centerfield fence. That homer followed a swinging bunt single by Meghan Bosma.
The final three innings were scoreless.
Grand Rapids finished with 14 hits and Muskegon CC had five hits.
“Grand Rapids is at the top, boy, you throw the ball down the middle of the plate and they are going to make you pay for it,” Houseman said.
Grand Rapids CC 7, Muskegon CC 3: The Raiders swept the twinbill with some early runs against MCC starter Kaitlyn Wozniak, who allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. Jesse Gillings led MCC with two hits, one a double, and scored two runs. Alyssa Telling and Brooke Agers each had two hits. Kelly Barnes had a triple for MCC (21-18, 12-5). Kaitlyn Schneider had two hits, including a home run, for Grand Rapids CC.