By Mari Smith
The Lady Bulldogs softball team clinched the Wolverine Conference East Division finishing with a 9-1 record. Following their only loss to Paw Paw, Vicksburg went on to trample Plainwell in a double header 10-0 and 13-1, with Shaidan Knapp batting strong in both games with a double and two triples. Amber Beal and Kayla Davenport were each credited with a win on the mound.
The Bulldogs went on to face Three Rivers next, handing the Wildcats double losses of 7-5 and 11-3. Jenna Fort was credited with a triple and Knapp, Beal, and Rachel Peterman each hit doubles in the match-up. Keeping the momentum going, Vicksburg blasted the Bulldogs of Otsego 8-3 and 11-1. Hitting was strong in both games with Jessi Kelly slamming a homerun, Grace Stock a triple, and Davenport, Peterman, Morgan VanDeWoestyne, and Knapp each with a double.
The Bulldogs last Division opponent was Allegan. The Tigers were no match for the Bulldogs who took the double-headers 10-0 and 13-1. Both Knapp and Fort pounded home runs, with Knapp also adding a double. The Bulldogs’ final victories against Allegan secured the East Division title.
The team has made a lot of progress since the beginning of the season, said Coach Paul Gephart. Their pitching has been impressive, with Beal finishing with a 5-0 record in the division, a 1.31 ERA, and 23 strike outs. Davenport also excelled with a 4-1 record, a 1.53 ERA, and 19 strike outs.
Adding to the team’s success was the exceptional team batting average of 365 within the Division, where the Bulldogs scored 84 runs. Knapp, the lead-off hitter for the Bulldogs, led the team in batting with a 529 average, followed by Davenport, Fort, Peterman, Stock and Olivia Holmes, who all batted over 400. Kelly and Beal added to the batting strength with averages over 300.
Carlie Kudary, a freshman, was recently moved up from Junior Varsity to the Varsity team, where she has led hitting with an average over 500. The team is further supported in the field by VanDeWoestyne, a freshman who has played four different positions; Kristen Jones, Savannah Johnson as returning starting catcher, and Lexi Francisco.
Gephart says the strength of this team is the balance of speed and power on offense and their versatility defensively.
Heading into Conference and District tournaments, he hopes the team shows continued improvement and peak at the end of their 2014 season.