Rams, Eagles, Bulldogs all tied atop OK Red It took more than 72 hours to complete, but when the dust finally settled on the key softball doubleheader between the Rockford Rams and the two-time defending state champion Hudsonville Eagles, the teams split the thrilling twin bill. The host Rams won Tuesday’s first game 1-0 in walk-off fashion, and the Eagles came out on top in game two by a score of 4-3, in a game which was concluded on Friday after darkness had suspended the extra-inning affair Tuesday evening with the score tied 3-3 after eight exciting innings. The games featured a match-up of two of the state’s premier pitchers in returning All State players Tricia Graham from Rockford and Sara Driesenga of Hudsonville. Graham uses a tremendous variety of pitches, including a rise, a curve, and a great change-up to go with her fastball. The six-foot-two Driesenga features a powerful fastball and a drop, and she will occasionally throw a screwball and a change-up. Both hurlers are headed to Division I college programs in the fall. Graham, who has rewritten the pitching record books at Rockford, will pitch at Central Michigan University. Her 435 strikeouts and 29 victories in 2010 are both school records, and she owns many career records and is closing in on many others as well. Driesenga, who will play at the University of Michigan, is a leading candidate for the state’s Miss Softball Award this season after being named the National Junior Softball Player of the Year in 2010 by ESPN Rise and Gatorade’s Michigan Player of the Year each of the past two years. With such dominant pitchers on the mound, everybody expected that runs would be at a premium. In game one, that was certainly the case. The Eagles had a number of opportunities in the game, but Graham worked her magic and came up with the key outs when she needed them the most, often on strikeouts at critical times. She also got help from her defense. In the first inning, with two runners on and two out for the Eagles, third baseman Brooke Agers ripped a shot deep to left-center field. Rams left-fielder Carmen Zeboor raced to her left and snared the ball just before it […]
Driesenga, Graham lock horns in classic pitcher’s duel in game two The Rockford Rams traveled to Hudsonville on Tuesday, May 18 to take on the top-ranked team in the state. They came 60 feet away from a split in the doubleheader, but eventually lost 1-0 in the nightcap after falling by a 6-1 count in the opener. In a match-up of two of the best pitchers in the state, Hudsonville’s Sara Driesenga dueled Rockford’s Tricia Graham as they blanked the offenses for the first seven innings, as both teams only managed to get one runner as far as second base in regulation. The Rams posted the first scoring threat in the bottom of the eighth when junior shortstop Alli Hickox cracked a one-out double to the gap in left-center. She got to third base on a passed ball, but the Rams couldn’t drive her in and the game moved to the ninth inning. Hudsonville responded in kind, getting a one-out double by All-Stater Kenzie Ritzema, who advanced to third on a wild pitch with two outs and then scored on a clutch single up the middle by Brittany Frye to score the game’s only run. In game one, the Eagles had a pair of three-run rallies as the top of their order did most of the damage. Graham struck out 10 batters in the game, and she tripled and scored the Rams’ only run on Kayla Tykosky’s grounder to first base in the fourth inning. Rockford got runners on first and third with one out in the sixth, but failed to score as the Eagles secured the 6-1 win. The victories kept Hudsonville perfect in league play and all but sewed up the OK Red conference championship for the defending state champs. Rockford is now 7-5 in the conference, and is battling Grandville for third place.
Junior pitcher sets record with 18 strikeouts The Rockford varsity softball team defeated the visitors from Grand Haven by scores of 8-0 and 11-1 (five innings) on Wednesday, May 12. Game one featured a pitching clinic by the Rams’ Tricia Graham, who threw her second no-hitter of the season and struck out a team-record 18 batters in the seven-inning contest while walking just two. The Rams’ defense was perfect on the three balls that were put in play by the Bucs. Offensively, Rockford only managed four hits in the game, but were the beneficiaries of 10 walks by Grand Haven pitching and three errors by their defense. The hits in the game were Peyton Wells’ first-inning RBI-triple, and singles by Morgan Ruchty, Alli Hickox and Kayla Tykosky. The Rams scored all of their runs in the first four innings and cruised to victory behind the wizardry of Graham. Game two saw the Rams bust things open in the second inning when they scored five times to take a 6-0 lead. The big inning featured four hits, including Katie Chapin’s two-run single for the final two runs of the frame. Rockford scored four more times in the fifth inning, with the final run scoring after Lexi Bettig’s hard line drive glanced off the glove of Grand Haven’s shortstop, allowing Karli Showers to score. For the game, Lauren Pasciak was the perfect leadoff hitter, reaching base four times on two hits and two walks, while scoring three times. Showers was credited with two RBIs in the game, and Graham drove in one. The winning pitcher in game two was Wells, who scattered six hits while striking out five and walking none, as she improved her record to 2-0 in the conference.
Rockford’s Lady Rams began the OK Red portion of their season in impressive fashion last week, starting with an 11-0 victory in Grand Haven on April 22. Tricia Graham completely shut down the Buc offense by allowing 0 hits, striking out 14 batters, and allowing just one walk on the day. Offensively, Graham and junior centerfielder Lauren Pasciak led the way with two hits and three runs batted in apiece. On Friday, April 24, the Rams hosted the Muskegon Big Reds in a doubleheader. Both games ended with identical 15-0 scores in favor of the Rams. Game one featured strong hitting from junior second baseman Nicole Beemer, who went two-for-two and scored three runs, and senior shortstop Carly Shutich, who had two hits while scoring two and knocking in two more. On the mound, Graham won game one, allowing just one hit, and sophomore Peyton Wells won game two, allowing just one hit and one walk. In game two, senior outfielder Sadie Jensen homered and drove in three runs, while Graham had a pair of doubles and scored twice. Senior Taylor Sargent and junior Kristin Phillips also scored two runs in the win. On Saturday, April 25, the Rams traveled to Frankenmuth to compete in the Swing Into Spring Tournament. The Rams won their first game of the day against Hartland 10-0 behind yet another gem by Graham, as she and her battery-mate Karli Showers combined for their fourth no-hitter of the young season, striking out 17. Offensively, senior third baseman Alex Fulbright scored three times and Pasciak belted a home run and drove in three runs. In game two on Saturday, Rockford defeated Holly 12-4 behind a balanced offensive attack which featured home runs by Graham and Wells, who drove in three more runs to run her season RBI total to 20. Scoring two runs apiece were juniors Halley Pattok, who is batting 0.429 on the season, and speedy right fielder Morgan Ruchty, who already has 11 stolen bases in as many attempts. In the final game of the day, the Rams were defeated for the first time this season, falling to host Frankenmuth in a rain-shortened five-inning game by a score of 7-0. The Eagles’ senior pitcher Heather […]