By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg Lady Bulldogs softball team has started to peak in typical fashion as it secured a conference championship with big wins over Edwardsburg and Plainwell.
In their latest outing, the girls won against Otsego in just three innings by a score of 15-0 on May 31.
But it hasn’t always been easy this year. There have been odd injuries and a much tougher schedule to contend with. But there’s no denying how good the softball team is again this year.
It knocked out Edwardsburg 6-2 and 6-3 in a double header at home to climb to the top of the Wolverine Conference on May 19 and clinched the title against Plainwell the next night with 11-0 and 15-0 shutouts.
Head coach Paul Gephardt is pretty humble about the girls’ accomplishments this season.
“Given the amount of injuries we’ve had, we’ve done pretty good,” Gephardt said before a double header against conference rival Dowagiac. The girls took both games against the Chieftains.
The games against Dowagiac were a good display of how the Lady Bulldogs typically handle differing situations. The first game was a close 4-1 contest that was kept that way thanks to the excellent pitching of sophomore Avery Slancik and on-the-ball defense. Junior Grace Stock scored the opening run of the game for the Lady Bulldogs after finding room to run home on a high pitch.
The Lady Bulldogs find many ways to hurt other teams. Such was the case of a play by junior Shaidan Knapp. She found herself in no-man’s land, cornered between the third baseman and pitcher at home. After a couple of back-and-forths, Knapp went for it and made a face-first dive for home. She was able to safely touch home plate as Dowagiac’s pitcher bobbled and dropped the ball.
Vicksburg’s second game against Dowagiac was a little less dramatic as the Lady Bulldogs defeated the Chieftains 10-4.
Lopsided scores have become something of a norm for Vicksburg softball in recent years and the girls had their share of blowouts again this year. The team posted such huge scores as 10-1 and 16-0 against Marshall and 16-2 and 21-2 against Sturgis. Allegan went down in similar fashion by scores of 14-0 and 15-0.
But for Gephardt, the most notable victories this year came against the tougher teams. The girls defeated a very good Portage Northern at the start of the season 11-1 and 8-7. Another highlight was beating non-conference opponent Grandville 11-1 and 17-3.
There are just two seniors, Alicia Cagney and Olivia Holmes. Both players have been consistently excellent for the Lady Bulldogs. Holmes signed a letter of intent to continue her softball career for Kalamazoo Valley Community College back in March.
The team seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time and has the potential to go deep in the MHSAA tournament. “We just hope we peak at the right time going into districts and regionals,” Gephardt said.