Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University softball team closed out the regular season by clinching the number two overall seed for the upcoming Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament by sweeping Northwood in a key league series on Sunday (April 28) afternoon at the FSU Softball Field.
The Bulldogs and the Timberwolves entered the day tied for second in the GLIAC's overall standings, but senior pitcher Dana Bowler tossed back-to-back shutouts as FSU finished as the runner-up in conference regular-season action.
The Bulldogs took game one by a 2-0 score and came up with another shutout by posting a 5-0 victory in the nightcap. FSU closed out the regular-season by sweeping four conference doubleheaders over a four-day span, including the final three days at home in Big Rapids.
Bowler continued her impressive play as she ran her winning streak to 12 consecutive games and improved to 20-6 overall in the circle this season. She has tossed five consecutive complete game shutouts and overall has not allowed a single run in the last 41 innings of action for the Bulldogs. That matches the school-record of 41 consecutive scoreless innings set twice previously by Nadine Crowl in 1999 and Sharon Stickney in 1980, which means she needs only one more scoreless inning to break the FSU mark.
Behind Bowler's impressive performance in game one, the Bulldogs allowed only three hits to Northwood in the opener. FSU totaled only four hits of its own, but came up with two timely runs in the bottom of the sixth ininng to break the scoreless deadlock.
In the sixth, the Bulldogs posted three of their four hits as Alyssa Smith singled to start the inning and eventually scored the first run of the game on Amy Dunleavy's RBI single to center field. Dunleavy in turn scored on senior Lindsey Pettit's RBI hit to right field to account for the only runs of the game.
Along with Smith, Dunleavy and Pettit, the Bulldogs also received a hit from senior catcher Liz Hamming. Smith notched her team-leading 18th stolen base of the year in the victory.
Bowler threw all seven innings and compiled nine strikeouts and only a single walk in the game one victory.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bulldogs finally struck for the game's first run in the top of the fourth inning. FSU added another run in the sixth and then closed the door on the Timberwolves with three more in the seventh before sending NU three up and three down in the seventh.
Much like the first game, Bowler was a thorn in Northwood's side as she posted seven strikeouts and only a single walk in her 25th complete game effort of the year. It was also her 12th shutout victory of the season as she gave up only a pair of hits.
Offensively, the Bulldogs tallied 10 hits in the game, which included two hits each from Smith, Morgan Kramerich and Alex Wittman. Dunleavy, senior Lainee Clay, Haming and Rachael Gabrielson all notched a single hit apiece in the victory.
The hit parade included doubles from Clay, Hamming and Wittman along with RBI's by Dunleavy, Hamming and Wittman. The five runs were all scored by five different players with Smith, Kramerich, Clay, Pettit and Gabrielson all crossing the plate in the balanced effort. Tononi and Hamming both netted sacrifice hits.
Ferris State ran its record to 28-12 overall and 20-6 in the GLIAC with the two wins while NU closed out regular-season action with a 28-17 overall record and an 18-8 league mark. The eight-straight wins over the last four days also are expected to significantly aid the Bulldogs' postseason NCAA Tournament hopes.
With the two shutout wins, Bowler also established school records for most shutouts in a season (12) and consecutive wins (12). Her 193 strikeouts to date this season has also shattered the previous school record of 165 K's in a year.
The Bulldogs have clinched the number two overall seed for the GLIAC Tournament, which will be held Friday thru Sunday (May 3-5) in Findlay, Ohio.
Grand Valley State finished first in regular-season play with a 24-2 league record and will be the top seed with Ashland (3rd), Northwood (4th), Ohio Dominican (5th), Wayne State (6th) and Tiffin (7th) all behind the Bulldogs. The eighth and final seed will not be determined until after Saginaw Valley State's league makeup doubleheader against Hillsdale on Monday. The Cardinals need to beat the Chargers twice to move past Findlay for the eighth and final spot.
The official game times and matchups for the GLIAC Tournament are expected to be announced by the conference office following the conclusion of regular-season action on Monday. Stay tuned to FerrisStateBulldogs.com for updates.