Rockford’s varsity softball team made it to the district finals by defeating Kenowa Hills 14-0 before falling to a spirited Northview team by the score of 4-0 in the finals on Saturday, May 30. Despite a disappointing ending to a season that seemed to end too soon, the Rams will remember numerous exciting triumphs and celebrate vast improvement throughout the season.
In the opening scrimmage against Reed City before the team traveled south for spring training, the team-which had lost four starters (three of whom went on to play college softball) off the squad that made it to the state quarterfinals a year ago-looked like an inexperienced team. But with a productive spring training trip to Fort Myers, Fla., and through the hard work of the girls and the coaching staff, the Rams improved quickly and got off to a fast start, winning their first 10 games, including an exciting walk-off win against Byron Center to capture the Rockford Invitational.
The Rams battled the competition in the tough OK Red conference, finishing third in the league behind Hudsonville and Jenison despite beating the Wildcats twice in exciting pitchers’ duels. The Rams suffered some disappointing losses along the way, dropping a game to Grandville and then East Kentwood. Ultimately, that inconsistency cost the Rams another district title as the bats went silent against Northview’s senior pitcher Samantha Glonek. Northview’s defense also made some sparkling plays to thwart potential Ram rallies, and their offense came through with enough big hits to end the season for Rockford.
On their way to the finals, the Lady Rams pounded Kenowa Hills behind another shutout for sophomore ace Tricia Graham, who struck out 13 en route to her 13th shutout of the season. Graham finished the season with a 21-7 record and now has 43 wins in her career as just a sophomore. She also broke her own strikeout record with 338 for the season.
Graham helped herself at the plate as well with three hits and three runs batted in against the Knights. Leadoff hitter Carly Shutich scored four times and had a triple in each game at the district tournament. Senior left-fielder Sadie Jensen also tripled, and juniors Haley Pattok and Morgan Ruchty added doubles in the big win over Kenowa Hills.
The Rams concluded their season with a fine 25-8 record, and with a strong core of returning players and anticipated contributions from the junior varsity team that finished 21-5, Coach Dunham and Assistant Coach Munger look forward to even more success in the years to come.