SVSU & Ashland Tabbed to Win North and South Titles, Respectively, in 2011 GLIAC Softball Coaches’ Preseason Poll

SVSU & Ashland Tabbed to Win North and South Titles, Respectively, in 2011 GLIAC Softball Coaches’ Preseason Poll

Written by Sandy Gholston, special writer for the GLIAC

2011 GLIAC Softball Preview

BAY CITY, Mich. – The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) has a well-earned reputation for softball excellence. In 2011, it appears that reputation will remain as strong as ever on the diamond.  The League will expand to 12 teams this season with the additions of Lake Erie College and Ohio Dominican University, which will play in the GLIAC for the first time in 2011.

2011 GLIAC Softball Coaches' Preseason Poll

North Division





Saginaw Valley State (6)



 Ferris State (1)






Grand Valley State 






Lake Superior State


South Division





Ashland (4)



Wayne State (2)









Ohio Dominican



Lake Erie


With strong, veteran coaches back in the dugout and high-quality players still in the mix, the 2011 spring season appears destined to be a strong one on the diamond in the GLIAC. League teams will battle for supremacy throughout the regular season before they travel to Midland for the annual GLIAC Softball Tournament (May 6-8) at Emerson Park.

Saginaw Valley State University was picked atop the North Division with 29 points and six of seven first-place votes while Ashland University was picked first in the South Division with 24 points and four of six first-place votes.

In the North Division, Ferris State University was second with 20 points and one first-place vote, Northwood University was third with 16 points, Grand Valley State University was fourth with 13 points, Hillsdale College was fifth with nine points and Lake Superior State University was sixth with three points.

In the South Division, Wayne State University was picked second with 22 points and two first-place votes, Tiffin University was third with 17 points, the University of Findlay was fourth with 12 points, Ohio Dominican University was fifth with 10 points and Lake Erie College was sixth with five points.

Previews are listed below in projected order of finish in the 2011 GLIAC Softball Coaches Poll released by the league office:


1. Saginaw Valley State

Overview: Saginaw Valley State hopes to again contend for the conference championship this season with 16 returning players from the 2010 squad. In recent years, the Cardinals have built a foundation for strong softball. Part of the cornerstone of the success of the Cardinals could be built on the strength of its veteran pitching. Jade Fulton, a senior will likely be centerpieces of the SVSU effort to keep opposing offenses under control. Fulton was 10-1 last season with a 0.62 ERA and 108 strikeouts. As far as position players, Ashley Jordan, a senior outfielder, is back after batting .388 with 48 hits, 20 runs scored and 20 RBI. Senior Jessica McKeith batted .247 with 22 hits, 21 runs scored and 20 RBI while Jillian Peterson returns after batting .322 with 37 hits and a team-leading 12 doubles.

Coaching: Everett Roper is in his fourth season as head softball coach at Saginaw Valley State.

2010 Record: 30-16 overall, 14-12 GLIAC

Noteworthy: SVSU was the first team listed among other teams receiving votes in the NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll, released on Feb. 2.


2. Ferris State

Overview: Ferris State is entering its 2011 season with the motto, “unfinished business.” In 2010, the Bulldogs finished 26-16 overall and 17-9 in the conference and are hopeful that they can use the experience that has been gained the last few years to take the next big step to a conference championship and perhaps more this spring. Senior Lynsay Weaver and junior Makenzi Peterson, who batted .343 with 36 hits, return to help anchor the Ferris infield along with junior Chelsea Morris, sophomore Lindsey Pettit, sophomore Lainee Clay, junior Allison Webber and freshman Bianca Vasovski. In the outfield, Morgan Kramerich, a junior who batted .293 with 36 hits, returns to lead the way along with senior Colleen Roney. Stephanie Dusendang, a junior, is back for the Bulldogs along with younger players in Alex Wittman and Brittney Buti who expect to compete. Catcher Rachel Mueller will be the leader behind the plate backed up by Liz Hamming. The catchers will handle a pitching staff led by sophomore Dana Bowler (an eight-game winner last season), freshman Amy Dunleavy, and transfer Emily Carlson. The Bulldogs were picked second in the North Division in the preseason poll.

Coaching: Keri Becker is in her 14th season as head coach of the Bulldogs and owns a career record of 409-253-1.

2010 Record: 26-16 overall, 17-9 GLIAC

Noteworthy: Head coach Keri Becker is a three-time GLIAC Coach of the Year having won the award in 1997, 2003 and 2008. She served eight years (1992-00) in the United States Army Reserve and held the rank of sergeant.


3. Northwood

Overview: Northwood is coming off a strong softball season. Typically, success on the diamond begins with god pitching and the Timberwolves have had that led by Megan Eddy, who will be a senior this spring. Eddy, a tall thrower in the circle for Northwood, was a first-team All-GLIAC performer last season. Also returning, after earning all-league honorable mention recognition, is catcher Marissa Borkowski, who was honored as a freshman in 2010 for head coach Meaggan Pettipiece. Northwood has traditionally used a combination of solid defense, high-quality pitching and timely hitting to find success during the regular season under head coach Meaggan Pettipiece. The Timberwolves were picked third in the conference, but last season showed the capability to compete with any team in the league when they were at the top of their game.

Coaching: Meaggan Pettipiece is in her fifth season as the head coach of Northwood University’s softball program.

2010 Record: 25-18 overall, 17-9 GLIAC

Noteworthy: Pettipiece has a staff of assistant coaches that includes Andrea Berchert and Ashley Slusser.


4. Grand Valley State

Overview: Grand Valley State will send a young team on the field – a squad with no seniors and just four juniors. Still, the Lakers hope that the young talent will blend together nicely as GVSU tries to contend with the top teams the league has to offer. Last spring, the Lakers proved they could hit the ball as the team led the GLIAC with a .317 average led in no small part by GLIAC “Freshman of the Year” Katie Martin, who is back as a sophomore. Martin ranked fourth in the conference in homers (nine) and slugging percentage (.678), fifth in RBI (40) and on-base percentage (.466), and sixth in batting average (.392) and total bases (97). Primarily playing third base due to an injury that kept her off the mound for most of the season, Martin did tally 10 wins on the year, which tied her for eighth in the GLIAC. Also returning is sophomore infielder Kayleigh Bertram, an NFCA All-Midwest Region Second Team choice and an All-GLIAC Second Team selection. She was second on Grand Valley State in runs (28), hits (53), home runs (five), total bases (77), and on-base percentage (.436). Junior catcher Carli Raisutis has twice been named an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention selection. The Lakers were picked fourth in the North Division, but could finish higher if their young talent plays well.

Coaching: Doug Woods is in his 21st season in the dugout for Grand Valley State.

2010 Record: 22-24 overall, 10-16 GLIAC

Noteworthy: Woods has an all-time record of 727-343-3 overall and 254-144-1 in GLIAC competition.


5. Hillsdale

Overview: Hillsdale will feature some young talent on the diamond this season with a couple of returning all-conference honorable mention players from 2010 in Jessica Guertin, a junior third baseman, and Jennifer Berlet, a junior first baseman. That combination makes the Chargers’ infield strong at the corners this spring for head coach Jamie Meyers, who is in her fourth season. Guertin batted .436 last season with 58 hits, 12 doubles and 15 home runs while Berlet batted .421 with 59 hits, and 23 RBI. Last season, Hillsdale finished with a record of 16-28 overall and 7-19 in the GLIAC during the regular season as it earned the eighth and final spot in the post-season conference tournament. Devon Trimmer, a senior from last season, batted .355, but will have to be replaced this spring in the Chargers’ lineup.

Coaching: Jamie Meyers now is in her fourth season as the head softball coach at Hillsdale College.

2010 Record: 16-28 overall, 7-19 GLIAC

Noteworthy:  Jessica Guertin became the first player in team history to earn All-America honors, earning Daktronics Third-Team All-America accolades last season.


6. Lake Superior State

Overview: It’s the dawn of a new era in softball for Lake Superior State University with the introduction of Lori Shimasaki as the new head coach of the Lakers. She replaces long-time head coach Don Myers, who coached the program for more than two decades in Sault Ste. Marie. Shimasaki has a big task ahead of her as she will have to replace several key position players. On the other hand, she welcomes back an experienced pitching staff that will be led by junior Jillian Willette. Willette was 4-14 with a 5.76 ERA in 2010. Sophomore pitcher Nikki Stein was 2-9 with a 4.52 ERA, but missed most of the season due to injury. Defensively, behind the staff, Lake Superior has three potential starters returning in the outfield in seniors Nicole Carstensen, Ronlea Peterson and Brittany Cousino. The Lakers top returning hitters are Carstensen, who batted .322; and sophomore pitcher/designated hitter Christine Larkin, who batted .266.

Coaching: Lori Shimasaki is entering her first season as head coach of Lake Superior State University.

2010 Record: 10-38 overall, 5-21 GLIAC

Noteworthy: Shimasaki replaces Don Myers who coached the Lakers for 21 seasons.



1. Ashland

Overview: Ashland has been one of the perennial powers in the GLIAC on the softball diamond and returns for the 2011 season loaded with the talent to make another run at several championships. The Eagles advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Super Regional Championship last season and returns 15 letterwinners and nine starters from that squad. Senior outfielder Erica Miller returns after batting .340 last season with 19 runs batted in, senior pitcher/first baseman Logan Hursey is back after batting .381 with eight home runs, 45 RBI to go along with a 13-8 record and a 1.67 earned run average. Emlyn Knerem, a junior pitcher, finished 23-5 last season with a 1.04 ERA. Alyssa Kelley, a junior third baseman is back for Ashland after hitting .390 with 45 RBI and Tawna Garver, a second-year catcher, batted .341 last season with five homers and 24 runs driven in for the Eagles, who were picked to finish first in the South Division in the preseason league poll.

Coaching: Sheilah Gulas owns a record of 494-233 through 14 seasons at Ashland and has a record of 697-357 overall in 23 seasons as a head coach.

2010 Record: 36-13 overall, 20-6 GLIAC

Noteworthy: In 2010, Ashland advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Super Regional Championship.


2. Wayne State

Overview: Wayne State University has the makings of one of the premier teams in the GLIAC, the region and the nation under long-time head coach Gary Bryce, who is in his 30th season in the dugout. The Warriors were ranked fifth in the in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II Preseason Top 25 poll. Wayne welcomes back 10 letterwinners – a group that includes seven starters for the start of the 2011 spring season. Junior pitcher Sam Cain could be the top hurler for the Warriors as she will be a part of a staff that bounces back from the loss of standout ace Casey Hanes. Junior outfielder Alison Allen, the reigning GLIAC Player of the Year and an All-American, is back for the Warriors. A year ago, she batted .402 with 90 hits, 31 RBI and 41 runs scored. She also led the team in multiple-hit games with 23. All-GLIAC first baseman Rebecca Ryan, a junior, returns. A year ago, she hit .355 with 66 hits, 35 RBI and 38 runs scored. Brittany Omelanchuk returns at catcher after being named to the Daktronics All Midwest Region Second Team and All-GLIAC First Team. She was 11th in the conference in on-base percentage (.444) and had 12 multiple-hit games and six multiple-RBI affairs. The Warriors were picked second in the preseason poll in the South Division, but only placed just slightly behind Ashland.

Coaching: Gary Bryce is in his 30th season as head coach of Wayne’s softball program.

2010 Record: 52-13 overall, 21-5 GLIAC

Noteworthy: Bryce was a 2008 inductee into the NFCA Hall of Fame and has a career record of 977-590, entering the 2011 campaign.

3. Tiffin

Overview: Tiffin is coming off a solid season of softball in 2010 that included a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament – the first such trip in program history. The Dragons finished with a record of 34-18 overall and placed fifth in the GLIAC at 16-10. The team appears destined to be solid once again with nine starters returning and three pitchers back in the rotation this spring for head coach Jeff Nickerson, who is in his third season in the dugout for Tiffin. All-GLIAC and all-region third baseman Amanda Temple is back after batting .429 in 2010. All-GLIAC first baseman Tiffany Smith is back after hitting .373 last season with 13 home runs. Meagan Baird, at shortstop, is back off an all-conference campaign a year ago as she batted .266. The Dragons were picked third in the preseason league poll in the South Division, but feel confident they could finish even higher if things come together they way they believe they can this spring.

Coaching: Jeff Nickerson is in his third season as head coach of Tiffin. In seven years as a head coach, overall, he is 224-171.

2010 Record: 34-18 overall, 16-10 GLIAC

Noteworthy: Tiffin has been playing college softball since 1985 and has an all-time record of 657-421-2 … The Dragons have one NCAA Tournament appearance (2010).


4. Findlay

Overview: Findlay returns a pair of players who earned All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Team recognition in 2010 in senior Calli Coppus, a first baseman, and senior Jaci Messmer, an outfielder. Coppus and Messmer, transfers from Cleveland State University, could be called upon to be the veteran cornerstones of the success of the Oilers this season as the team must replace Katie Ammons, who was a standout player the team had from last season. Ammons was an All-GLIAC Second Team performer. The Oilers will be a very young team with 11 freshmen joining the squad this spring. The coaching staff will work to blend the newcomers with some of the returning veterans Findlay had coming back from 2010.

Coaching: Ron Ammons is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Oilers.

2010 Record: 14-35 overall, 3-22 GLIAC

Noteworthy: The Oilers are scheduled to open their home season against Malone on March 15, and will begin home GLIAC play on March 25 when they host Northwood University.


5. Ohio Dominican

Overview: Ohio Dominican is entering its first season of softball competition in the GLIAC with a roster that has some talented players returning from the spring 2010 campaign. One of the leaders of that group will be junior Kylee Crislip started 50 of 52 games during her sophomore campaign, she tied for the team lead with five home runs, was second with a .477 slugging percentage and third with a .335 batting average.  Junior Erin Sutter and senior Jennifer Baker also return for the Panthers after strong seasons a year ago. Sutter batted .398 last season and totaled 66 hits while Baker led the team in on base percentage (.455), stolen bases (22), runs scored (47), base on balls (24) and fielding percentage (.988). This pitching staff will be led by seniors Maria Staton and Shana Etter.

Staton was 16-10 last season with 21 complete games and a 2.16 ERA in 2010. First baseman Cassandra Weitz, shortstop/outfielder Brooke McCartney and catcher/third baseman Samantha Wolfe are other key players for ODU.

Coaching: Marcella Vanlandingham is in her 16th season as head coach at Ohio Dominican University.

2010 Record: 29-25 overall

Noteworthy: The Panthers will be playing one of their most challenging seasons in ODU softball history during the 2011 campaign. As a member of the GLIAC, the Panthers will be going toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the country. Five teams ranked in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II preseason top-30, including four conference foes, dot the slate.


6. Lake Erie

Overview:  Lake Erie College opened a new era on the softball diamond in January as Director of Athletics Griz Zimmermann officially announced today that Kristin Hall was the new head coach of the softball program. A year ago, the Storm finished with a record of 8-34, but expectations will be better than that with the optimism of a new head coach injecting new life into the program. Megan Foley, a junior infielder/catcher, is back for the Storm after batting .349 last season with 44 hits, 14 doubles, eight home runs and 26 runs batted in during the 2010 campaign. Also back for Lake Erie is Brittany Sostre, a senior third baseman, is batting .308 with 40 hits, seven doubles and eight home runs with 24 RBI.

Coaching: Kristin Hall is in her first season has head coach at Lake Erie College.

2010 Record: 8-34 overall

Noteworthy: As a student-athlete, Hall was a four-year letter-winner for the Schreiner University where she earned All-American Southwest West Division honorable mention during the 2001 season and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Scholar-Athlete in 2003.