Lady Red Hawks finish strong despite dropping final two

Lady Red Hawks finish strong despite dropping final two

By Tom O’Neill

            The future is looking bright for first-year Lake Michigan College softball coach John Jewell.

            After a slow start to the season due to cold temperatures and rainouts, the Red Hawks won 11 of their last 15 games before dropping two heart breaking losses to fourth place Muskegon Community College May 4, finishing 16-16 in the conference and 17-19 overall with five losses by one run. LMC’s overall record tied the 2015 team that went 17-26.

            The Jayhawks scored in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-2 win in the- opener and four in the bottom of the sixth to take the second game 8-7. “We just couldn’t hold the lead,” explained Jewell. “We walked some hitters, but they were both very winnable games. That’s been our season. We should have beaten Muskegon all four games this year.”

            Early on Jewell said if this team came together they could compete with the top teams in the conference. “I thought we could win 20 games. The talent was there but it just took awhile to figure out who we were. I’m excited about moving forward. We have a good group coming in, but we’re still putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” he added

            Interim Athletic Director Melissa Grau said she was “proud” of Jewell’s first-year performance. “The first year is so difficult because it’s not their recruits and then getting the feel of coaching at the college level is a lot different than high school.”

            One of those success stories for LMC has been freshman pitcher Breanna Riggenbach. The Bridgman product finished 12-9, suffering both losses against Muskegon despite 15 strikeouts. Her season total of 209 strikeouts in 146 innings currently places her third among all NJCAA Division II pitchers during the regular season. Megan Deiter of Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas may surpass her with post-season play. Dieter is at 206 strikeouts in 132 innings.

“Her impact has been major” noted Jewell. “I hate to think what it would have been without her. She was our number one starter and stopper.” She also led the team in batting with a .367 average. The team finished at .290, the highest overall average in the past five years. There is the possibility of nine returnees next season. In addition to Riggenbach, there’s Ali Kyles (.330) and Angie White (.317)  on the offensive side.

Riggenbach recorded her first college no hitter on the road against Grand Rapids April 9. The LMC freshman won seven of her last ten starts, averaged 1.43 strikouts per inning and posted a 2.77 ERA for the season. Her high of 13 strikeouts came against Jackson Community College, then again against Kellogg Community College. In addition, she threw three one-hitters and five two-hitters.

Grau, who recruited Riggenbach, calls her a “diamond in the rough. Lots of times in smaller communities players just get overlooked. I had feelers out and knew she was available. I saw her at a South Haven game.”

            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.”

Tournament Bowling Update

Bay City  At the State Women’s USBC Tournament Ami Huff is third in Division II All-Events and 19th in Doubles with partner Susan Livingston. Arica Angelo is seventh in All-Events Division I. Angela Gulliver is 23rd in Division III All Events.

Las Vegas At the National USBC Tournament Jeremy Jackson is currently 144th in Singles. Jill Wilkins and Lon Geisler are 230th in Doubles. Paul Koth is 330th in Doubles. All are in the Standard Division.

Goshen, IN.  Neil Vitale captured his first Michiana Bowling Association title at Maple City Bowl May 7. Vitale works and bowls at Kelley’s.




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