Our D2 Revue softball extravaganza continues as we shift over to Midwest and talk with the NFCA Preseason #6 Grand Valley State. We had a chance to talk with Head Coach Dana Callihan about her Lakers heading into 2017.
- The comfort of having a balanced line-up with no one true “superstar”
- Handling games on turf and then playing on grass in Clermont in March
- The grind of playing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC)
- How her time as a player and assistant coach under Doug Woods has influenced her
- Expectations of building off their run in 2016
The Coaching Staff:
Entering her third season as head coach, Dana Callihan understands what it takes to wear the GV on the chest as she herself was a former player and assistant coach under Doug ‘Doc’ Woods. Her first two seasons have produced 75 wins including 43 last year on the way to Denver, Colorado. 2016 saw eight Lakers receive all GLIAC selections which tied for the most in school history including four 1st Team selections. Her staff this season will comprise of Jen Rivera and Ryan Schalk.
About Last Season:Last season was one that Laker fans will remember for years to come as GVSU made it back to the Division 2 WCWS for the 2nd time in four seasons. The road to Denver wasn’t always easy as the Lakers went through the rigorous GLIAC finishing runner-up with a 21-5 mark. Their road to the postseason started in Indianapolis for the Midwest 1 Region tournament. They knocked off the second-ranked Greyhounds and All-American Morgan Foley before beating Trevecca Nazarene twice to advance to the Super Regionals. Standing between them and the Rocky Mountains as GLIAC foe Wayne State. Having to travel again to extend their season, the Lakers won two straight to advance to Denver. The Lake
W2W4 (Who 2 Watch 4): GVSU will have plenty of strong returners back from last seasons WCWS team headed by Senior Ellie Balbach . Last season she proved to be a force at the plate and in the circle for the Lakers. Ellie led the team in hitting (.353), hits (65), doubles (16), and slugging percentage (.522) while going 8-4 with a 2.39 ERA. Balbach was named 2nd Team NFCA Midwest Region and for the 2nd straight year 1st Team All-GLIAC. It was Balbach who did most of the work that sent the Lakers to Denver by hitting a homer and shutting out Wayne State 1-0 in Game 2 of the Midwest Super Regionals.
Joining Ellie as a top returner for GVSU is fellow senior Jenna Lenza Like her teammate, Lenza was also named 1st Team All-GLIAC for the 2nd straight year and 2nd Team NFCA Midwest Region. 2016 saw the Orland Hills, Illinois product hit .345 while finishing in Top 10 in the GLIAC in seven different offensive categories including Walks (29) and Total Bases (86). Their strength in numbers mindset will prove to be vital as they seek to replace their leading run producer in McKenze Supernaw. Look for Kaylie Rhynard to have a bigger role offensively in her junior year. She hit .333 last year as a sophomore and was a perfect 21-21 in stolen bases.
Pitchwise, the Lakers will have strong support behind their offense led by Balbach and 2016 GLIAC Freshman of the Year Allison Lipovsky 2016 saw Allison lead Grand Valley State with a 0.95 ERA while going 11-1 on the season. She allowed only 13 earned runs all season as she held opponents to a .180 batting average. Courtney Reinhold will also be there to help anchor the Lakers staff. In her sophomore season, Reinhold went 10-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 16 starts.
Did You Know: Coach Callahan served as an assistant coach for Doug ‘Doc’ Woods during his tenure as head coach where she was a part of the first two WCWS appearances in 2002 and 2013.
Photos by Doug Witte, Grand Valley State Athletics