By Andrew Johnson
ALLENDALE – Most college athletes can only dream of wrapping up their careers with a national championship.
The Lakers have advanced to the NCAA Division 2 Softball College World Series in Denver, where they will begin play on Tuesday.
The team earned the chance to play for a national title by sweeping Wayne State University, the tenth-ranked Division 2 team in the nation, in a three-game series in super regionals earlier this week. The Lakers were 0-2 against Wayne State during the regular season.
Grand Valley won the first game of the series 5-4, on the strength of a four-run seventh inning. Supernaw played a part in the big inning with a bunt single that drove in a run.
“It was an amazing feeling, we lost twice to them in the regular season, and to come back with some revenge was pretty nice,” Supernaw said. “They are a great team and gave us a fight.”
This trip to the College World Series won’t be a first for Supernaw, who was a freshman in 2013 when the Lakers finished third in the nation.
Supernaw hopes to use that experience to help her younger teammates calm their nerves this week.
“I have an idea of the type of competition we’ll be facing, and being a senior I can kind of relay the message to relax and just play each game,” she said.
Although Supernaw will experience the thrill of finishing her collegiate career in the World Series, her junior season was her best individually.
In 2015, Supernaw started all 49 games for the Lakers at third base and was named second team All-Conference with a .325 average, 10 doubles, six homers, and 35 RBIs.
“I most definitely felt comfortable my junior year academically and softball-wise,” she said. “I definitely found that groove and that comfort level that was needed. It meant a lot having a breakout year and starting to feel comfortable at this level of competition.”
Supernaw chose Grand Valley after finishing her high school career as an All-State pitcher in both her junior and senior years at Fremont.
“I took a tour four years ago and fell in love,” Supernaw said about GVSU. “I had heard good things and thought it would be a great opportunity to stay close to home.”
Playing just a short drive from Fremont has allowed Supernaw’s family and friends to witness much of her career.
“It has meant a lot to me because my family has gone through some rough patches and yet they’re still my biggest supporters here,” she said. “I’ve had local support all four years and it continues, even through my senior year. I know that I wouldn’t be able to have the same support if I went to school four or five hours away. It’s really nice being from a small community where everyone knows you.”
While Supernaw has experienced plenty of softball success since she was a little girl, she finds it tough to describe what it would mean to wrap it all up with an NCAA title in Denver.
“Words can’t even describe how excited I am, I’ve never been to Denver,” she said. “This has been an amazing experience for all of us, and I’ve thought since day one that we had an amazingly talented and close group of girls.”
Supernaw already has a job lined up as a personal trainer when she graduates in December with a degree in exercise science, and she’s trying to enjoy every moment of collegiate softball that she has left.
“It’s crazy how each year just goes by faster and faster and this year has been as fast as can be,” she said. “Winning a national championship would be the best way to go out. It’s definitely been awesome, starting my freshman year with a World Series trip and going out my senior year with another trip.”
Supernaw and the Lakers will open up the double-elimination College World Series tournament on Tuesday at 2 p.m. against top-seeded West Texas A&M.