The snow has finally cleared on the softball diamond here in Big Rapids, and the Bulldogs are taking advantage of the open field with a long stretch of home games.
The Dawgs kicked off their home schedule, hosting the Lake Erie Storm in a doubleheader last Friday. They fell to the Storm in the first game 8-5, but the offense responded in a big way, racking up 10 runs on 11 hits to take the second game 10-3.
The following day, the Bulldogs hosted Ashland, but dropped both games, first losing 9-3, then 5-1.
With four home games in the books, the Dawgs can still look ahead to hosting 12 more contests in Big Rapids over the next month.
“We are really excited to have a long stretch of home games. Last year’s weather affected games quite a bit so it is nice to have several home games and to be in a setting that is most comfortable for our team. We also enjoy the fans that come out and support us,” junior outfielder Rachael Gabrielson said.
The Bulldogs have struggled thus far this season, currently sitting on an overall record of 10-26.
A portion of the blame may lie with the pitching, as no true ace seems to be established in the rotation. Senior pitcher Cara DeLange boasts the best ERA with 3.39, but holds a lackluster record of 1-8 this season.
Meanwhile, the starting pitcher with the best record and most innings pitched is sophomore Megan Hiler who has notched a 4-6 record so far, yet has allowed 6.02 earned runs per game.
Of course, pitching is only one dimension of the game, and the Bulldog offense is in need of some improvement as well. The Dawgs have surrendered 200 runs this season, while scoring only 141 of their own. Ferris is also falling to over twice as many strikeouts as their opponents, as the Dawgs have compiled 252 while their opposition has gone down on just 122 strikeouts.
“We’ve been focusing on hitting in practice and being aggressive at the plate so our batters can go further in the pitch count,” sophomore infielder Sarah Johnson said.
A long series of games in front of a friendly crowd could be the spark that the Bulldogs need to ignite and turn their season around.
“I think home games add more excitement and also a little pressure as well because we want to represent a strong Ferris softball program. For me, playing at home definitely provides a spark,” Johnson said.
Once this home slate has concluded, the Bulldogs will have just six road games remaining before the GLIAC Tournament on May 1, which takes place in Findlay, Ohio.
“We face every team the same way. It could be Lake Superior State or Grand Valley State, we just approach every game the same. The GLIAC has a lot of really good teams this year and we enjoy competing with those teams day in and day out,” Gabrielson said.
Though the Bulldogs have a lot to look forward to this season, the most immediate threat and pressing matter on their minds is undoubtedly the doubleheader matchup with Lake Superior State this afternoon at home. The first game of the series will begin at 3 p.m. with the second game getting started soon after at 5 p.m.