It’s all about softball for Lake Michigan College pitcher
It’s all about softball for
Lake Michigan College pitcher
By Tom O’Neill
Webster’s defines intensity as an extreme degree of strength, force, energy or feeling. Bridgman’s Ahna Riggenbach hopes her intensity radiates to her Lake Michigan College teammates.
Riggenbach (7-5) pitched her first college no hitter on the road against Grand Rapids April 9. The LMC freshman has won six of her last eight starts while posting 132 strikeouts in 96 innings placing her 11th among all NJCAA Division II pitchers. Her high of 13 strikeouts came against Jackson Community College.
With recent game temperatures in the mid 40’s and 50’s many players bundle up in sweatshirts and long sleeve shirts while fans watch in winter coats. Riggenbach is dressed as if it were a mid-summer day. “I just try to warm up longer on colder days,” she explains. Averaging 1.37 strikeouts per inning and a 3.07 ERA, the college freshman says “I’m moving constantly and want my arms free. It’s something I’ve always done. Sweatshirts are too big and baggy.”
First year coach John Jewell says Riggenbach is “constant motion, no matter where we put her she never lets up. She inspires the team when pitching because she’s so dominant.” Jewell said the two recently discussed how fast she could throw the ball. Riggenbach said she was clocked at 62 mph in high school. “I think she’s gotten faster,” Jewell added. When not pitching, Riggenbach takes her place in the infield.
Asked how long she had been playing Riggenbach quickly responded “since four or five. My mom was a pitcher and I told her that’s what I want to do. About eight-years old she taught me. She spray-painted squares on the garage and I would try and hit those spots. I’ve never really had a pitching coach.”
During the game Riggenbach relies on her battery-mate, sophomore Danielle McCoy for placement .“Coach calls the pitches, and wherever Danielle puts her glove is where I put it. If I have a pitch not working, I’ll let her know.” McCoy agreed adding “I set it up and try to get as many calls as I can for her.”
LMC is 9-13 in the conference, 10-16 overall having played the least amount of games other than Ancilla in the Western MCCAA Conference. Lansing has 39 games in followed by Kellogg CC with 36 and Muskegon CC with 31. The Red Hawks play a home doubleheader April 21 against Grand Rapids and another April 22 when visiting Jackson.
This year’s team is averaging .278 at the plate, the highest since 2015. McCoy is batting .314. “I’ve always been focused on defense, but I’ve spent a lot of time working on my hitting this year.” Regarding the shortfall of games LMC’s co-captain said “we haven’t come together yet, but we keep getting better every game.”
“It’s been a tough go,” explained Jewell. “Because of all the rain-outs we can’t get into a rhythm. “Going into the gym and hitting ground balls gets boring. We’ve only been able to practice outside on our field a couple of times.” Jewell added if the team plays up to their potential they can compete with the top teams in their conference.
Nicknames are also a part of any sport. Some are true nicknames, others shortened versions. The NJCAA has Riggenbach’s first name as Ahna. LMC has it as Anna. Which is it? “Neither. My name is actually Breanna. I spell it Ahna so people don’t mispronounce it.”
Asked if she has ever participated in any other sports the LMC freshman answered, volleyball, but it didn’t last long. “I just wasn’t as serious and didn’t want it to get in the way of softball.”