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GRCC softball team's pitching and timely hitting highlighted in successful Florida roadtrip

March 14, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids Community College softball and baseball teams completed their spring break trip in Florida, facing stiff competition and tallying nine wins along the way.

The softball team, led by freshman pitcher, Izzy Regner, finished with a 7-5 record, while the baseball team finished 2-8 against tough NJCAA Division 1 competition.

"Overall,  I was very happy," coach Charles White said. "We played hard, improved throughout the week and we never gave up in tough spots. Gotta love a scrappy team!"

Highlights from the week for the softball team included first collegiate home runs for sophomore outfielder Jaye Guichelaar, freshman third baseman Lauren James, freshman catcher Samara Kolehouse and another by Regner.

Freshman outfielder Carly Sluiter had a game-winning single in extra innings, and James had a three-run shot that broke a scoreless game in the sixth inning against Illinois Valley that ended up being the only scoring in the game.

GRCC's bats were solid all week long, batting .298 as a team.

Five players batted better than .300, including Regner, .545; Guichelaar, .526; Autumn Scott, .455; James, .368; and Alyssa Wierenga, .333.  Regner and Guchelaar both had a slugging percentage over .800.

Regner was the team's best hitter, but she was dominant from the pitching mound, with a perfect 6-0 record, five of which via a shutout.  She allowed just five earned runs, with a 0.83 earned run average.  She also struck out 81 batters against just six walks in 42 innings.

The baseball team got off to a hot start defeating Coastal Alabama Community College in its opening game, 9-2, and two games later commanded Chipola College, 17-6.  The offense cooled down in the next five games. But despite losing, the team finished strong, scoring 15 runs in its final two games at Andrew College.

"I thought we had a pretty good southern trip playing against some of the top D1 community colleges, which should give us confidence,"  coach Mike Eddington said. "We had a chance to win five games. But more important than wins and losses, we learned what we have to work on to get better."

Eddington said the team's hitters can and will improve on their hitting approach, with a better idea on how the opposing pitcher is attacking GRCC hitters. He said the team's pitchers did well, but issued too many walks. The defense needs to slow down and do a better job anticipating what to do before the ball is hit to them with multiple runners on base.

"Our players are excited to get the regular season started," he said. 

Six GRCC baseball players batted .300 or better, led by sophomore Xander Reisbig who batted .462 with two home runs.  Joe Hoeks batted .368 with a homer run and nine runs batted in. Dylan Chargo batted .360 with a home run and a team-high 10 RBI. Tommy Reid batted .353, Zacarias Salinas batted .346 with a homer, and Trevin Laming batted .333. 

Sophomore Fernando Rivera-Calderon hit two home runs, giving the team seven total long balls during the 10-game trip.

Seventeen pitchers played for GRCC, totaling 39 strikeouts.  Sophomore All-American Jared Berkenpas and Connor Foley picked up the lone wins. Kellen Smith led the team with eight strikeouts.

The baseball team is scheduled to play again March 17 in Lima, Ohio as it takes on the junior varsity of the University of Northwestern Ohio.  The softball team isn't scheduled to play again until March 24, when it hosts Delta College in a five-game conference series.  

This story was reported by Ben Brown.