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College Softball Horizon League NCAA Division I

Oakland Sweeps Green Bay In Softball Doubleheader, Move Into Second Place

By Seth J. Walker

Rochester, Michigan- The Oakland Golden Grizzlies (20-24, 13-7 Horizon League) won both games of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader against the Green Bay Phoenix (10-35, 7-14 Horizon League) to move into second place in the Horizon League.  Oakland won the first game, 6-4, and the second game, 9-0.  This now gives the Golden Grizzlies 11 wins in their last 14 games.

In game one, senior Hayley Zemmer pitched a complete game for the Golden Grizzlies, allowing seven hits, while four of her teammates had two or more hits.  Freshman infielder Shannon Carr led the way with three-hit performance.

In game two the Golden Grizzlies put together a dominant performance, offensively and defensively.  Freshman, Chelsea Wiggins allowed only two hits all game while striking out four batters.  Then she got the run support she needed with a seven-run explosion in the sixth inning to add to a then 2-0 lead.  Oakland head coach Lauren Cognigni stressed the importance of not letting up offensive before the inning.

Oakland’s Chelsea Wiggins prepares to deliver the next pitch to the opposing batter. Wiggins now has 71 strikeouts in her freshman season.

“She told us that, even though we were ahead, we needed insurance runs, because we can’t keep taking teams lightly and then losing it at the end,” freshman third baseman Madison Jones said.  “We really needed to get back on it, have fun and just play our ball.”

The Golden Grizzlies are now peaking at the right time, with their recent surge, putting them into positon to potentially clinch the second seed, and with it, a first round bye in the Horizon League Tournament.  A win Sunday against the Phoenix, will clinch that seed.

Freshman Madison Jones (on base) leads Oakland with a .391 batting average and 11 home runs.

“I think throughout the season, we’ve consistently been getting better,” Cognigni said.  “Even at times where we felt like we were moving backwards, we were failing forward; and that kind of helps get to the spot that we’re in right now, which is being confident in our preparation, trusting ourselves, trusting our hands, trusting ourselves on defense, our pitchers just trusting their pitches and having confidence that (when) the ball is gets put in play, the defense is going to take care of it.”

Despite having a young team, the Golden Grizzlies recent success can be attributed to underclassmen playing in key roles along side veteran such as Zemmer, junior first baseman Brittany Miller and junior centerfielder Kelsi Swanson.

Junior first baseman Brittany Miller had three hits and run batted in during the second game of a doubleheader against Green Bay.

Jones leads Oakland in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, runs scored, runs batted in, slugging percentage, triples, and home runs.  Wiggins trails only Zemmer on the team in innings pitched, earned run average, and strike outs.  Both freshmen have been instrumental in putting the Golden Grizzlies in position to potentially win the Horizon League Tournament for the first time since 2015.

“That’s been the goal all year,” Wiggins said.  “Our teams wants a win and that’s what we’re aiming for.  We’re not aiming for the semis.  We’re not aiming for the quarters.  We want the finals, (and) we want the championship.”

The Golden Grizzlies finish the regular season with one more game against the Phoenix, Sunday at 11am.

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