ALLENDALE, MICH. - The first NCAA Division 2 softball regional rankings were released Wednesday and the Grand Valley State Lakers are sitting at #9.
Top 8 make the tournament.
Three weeks ago, they were 3 games under 500...so what changed?
"They were tight they were a little too tense and now we're having fun," says head coach Dana Callihan.
Grand Valley State's softball team had a ton of talent returning from last year's World Series team. Expectations were sky high but their early season play didn't keep up. But something clicked about three weeks ago, the team turned it around and have won 11 straight games.
"We realized we had to do something if we wanted to extend our season at all so they've kind of done the things they need to do," says Callihan.
Not surprisingly, it came right when their sophomore star pitcher turned it on.
"We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders and it clearly showed that we didn't perform as well as we were capable of doing," says sophomore pitcher Allison Lipovsky.
Last year's GLIAC Rookie of the Year, Lipovsky has taken the reigns as a leader on this team this year and proved it on the mound, racking up 3 straight GLIAC Pitcher of the Week awards.
"Now I get on the mound and I know that I'm going to get you out," says Lipovsky, "and if I don't I know my teammates will."
"Now she's controlling the strike zone a lot more. She's attacking the hitters more and trusting her defense," says Callihan, "That's what we've expected all along and she's very capable of that so we hope it continues."
A major difference between softball and baseball is the pitcher's impact. Softball pitchers don't need 5 days to rest...a dominant player on the mound can transform a team.
"I think it definitely helps," says assistant coach Jen Rivera, "I think pitching is one very big important part of the game so if you have those pitchers that can knock out teams it gives the rest of the team confidence to go from there."
Her pitching coach Rivera should know what lies ahead for Lipovsky, she was a 3-time GLIAC Player of the Year as a Laker pitcher. Lipovksy has a chance to knock off a few of her records as her and the Lakers continue to dominate.
"Hopefully she does it I think that's good for us and I think she's very capable of it so go get em, that's all I have to say for her," says Rivera.
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