Two Melanies give Calvin one-two punch
There's no better incentive for Melanie Harriff to hit the ball than when there are runners on base. "When there are runners on, I know that a hit could really help my team," she said. "That gets me motivated."
That happened more than half of the time in the conference this year with lead-off hitter Melanie Bolt sporting a .537 batting average in the MIAA. Harriff, who bats clean-up, wasn't far behind batting .512 in the conference.
Bolt leads off and Harriff bats her in--that's the way it's supposed to work any way, Harriff said.
The one-two combination worked so well, it helped lead the Knights to a tie for the championship in the MIAA with rival Alma. Calvin then topped Alma 2-1 in nine innings in the regional semifinal.
Calvin's top two hitters have more than just batting and their first name in common though. The two are also roommates. "We discovered we have a lot of similar interests," said Harriff. "Besides softball, we like hanging out together."
Actually their history together goes back a number of years to high school, where both played together on the junior varsity team at Grand Rapids Christian in 1991.
"I remember her because we both had the same name," said Harriff, "not much beyond that though."
After one year, Harriff moved with her family to Cadillac, where she attended Cadillac High School, where she was an All-Conference outfielder and volleyball player.
After four years at Grand Rapids Christian it was Bolt who went her own way; she went to the University of Pennsylvania for the nursing program.
"I wanted to get out on my own and see a different part of the country," she said. "I also went because of the nursing program."
Bolt played softball for two years while at Pennsylvania, but then a switch from the nursing program had her also looking to switch schools in 1995.
"I looked into Calvin two weeks before school started," Bolt said. "It was kind of a rush thing, but I'm happy I made the decision."
Bolt has been happy with the success the Calvin team has seen. "We were 11-32 my sophomore year at Penn," she said. "It was a losing proposition."
The Calvin team finished the season at 28-15 including an appearance at the national tournament.
In addition to leading the team in batting percentages, the duo led the team in stolen bases and RBIs. Harriff was posted a 1,000 percent fielding average in more than 100 chances.
The team's never-say-die attitude, led by Harriff, Bolt and junior pitcher Shauna Koolhaas was the real element in the success, the Melanies said.
"Things went better than we ever could have expected," said Harriff. "With all of the new freshman and a new coach, things could probably have gone either way. It definitely went the good way."