Return to the Calvin homepage Return to the Knightfile homepage  
All things
 

 

Spring sports recap: Baseball, track teams top MIAA

Baseball Team
The baseball team, under the leadership of first-year head coach John Sparks, had a landmark year, winning its first MIAA title since the 2002 season and establishing a new Calvin single-season record for victories. Calvin finished the year with an overall record of 32-10 and a conference mark of 23-5. Calvin captured the MIAA title in dramatic fashion, winning its final nine league games of the year, moving past Adrian and into sole possession of first place in the final game of the year—a 2-0 victory over Kalamazoo College. Freshman Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, N.J.) tossed a complete-game shutout in the title clincher and was later named the MIAA’s Pitcher of the Week.

Nate PocockWith the league title, Calvin gained an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament, marking its fourth trip to the national tournament, including its third in the last nine years.

Calvin’s success was built around a pitching staff that compiled a 3.88 earned run average and featured three players who won seven games or more. Junior Nate Pocock (Wayland, Mass.) was the ace of the Calvin pitching staff, posting a season record of 8-2 along with a 3.25 earned run average. Pocock was named the MIAA’s Pitcher of the Year, becoming just the second Calvin player to receive the award. Pocock was also named to the Division III All-Mideast Region second team and to the All-MIAA first team.

Pocock was joined on the All-Mideast Region second team by freshman Peter Steiner (Chicago, Ill.), who was 8-0 on the year with a 3.06 earned run average. Steiner and junior Kyle Cousins (Holland, Mich.) were named to the All-MIAA second team. Cousins was 7-2 on the year with a sterling 2.56 earned run average. Calvin’s bullpen was anchored by freshman Adam VanOpstall (Grandville, Mich.) and senior Todd LaForest (Clio, Mich.), with VanOpstall collecting three saves along with a team-best 1.80 earned run average while LaForest had two saves and a key victory in a spot start against Tri-State during Calvin’s final nine-game league stretch.

Calvin’s offensive attack was also stellar as the Knights batted .322 on the year. Six of Calvin’s starters recorded averages above .300, led by sophomore Matt Schepel (Grand Rapids, Mich.), who led the Knights with a .415 average. Over the course of the year, Schepel established new Calvin single-season records for home runs (9), runs batted in (38), runs scored (37), base hits (56) and total bases (98). Junior first baseman Chris Blacklidge (Comstock Park, Mich.) also established a new Calvin single-season record for doubles (13) and matched Schepel for the Calvin single-season record for runs scored (37). In addition, junior Jacob Vriesman (Denver, Colo.) matched the Calvin single-season record for at bats (143) and finished one stolen base shy of matching the Calvin record for stolen bases in a season with 13.

Schepel joined Pocock on the All-MIAA first team, while Cousins and Steiner were joined on the All-MIAA second team by Blacklidge, senior outfielder Alex Marcus (Wilmar, Minn.), Vriesman and senior catcher Kyle Fletcher (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Sophomore outfielder Drew Johnson (Boise, Idaho) also picked up an impressive postseason award as he was named to the All-Mideast Region Gold Glove team.

During the year, Calvin cracked the D3baseball.com Top 25 poll for the first time and was ranked as high as 21 before settling on a final ranking of 25.

Softball Team
The softball team was led by first-year head coach Emily Bustrum. The Knights finished 12-23 overall and in seventh place in the final MIAA standings with a 5-11 conference record. After opening the year with a 4-14 record, the Knights picked up steam, posting an 8-9 record over their final 17 games, including a doubleheader sweep over Albion and impressive non-conference victories at Wheaton (Ill.) and North Central (Ill.).

Junior pitcher Kristin Folkerts (Grand Rapids, Mich.) led Calvin, racking up 190.2 innings pitched while compiling a 9-18 record with a 3.16 earned run average. Sophomore catcher Whisper Miller (Hersey, Mich.) led Calvin at the plate with a .282 batting average and a team-leading 18 walks, while junior infielder Loren Scarbrough (Antioch, Ill.) had a team-leading 18 runs batted in. Junior infielder Brittany Moriarity (Muskegon, Mich.) batted .273 along with 14 runs batted in, while senior utility player Sam Ehlert (Rockford, Mich.) had a team-leading 11 sacrifice hits.

Women's Tennis Team
Led by eighth-year head coach Jerry Bergsma, the women’s tennis team just missed winning its first MIAA title since 1982, finishing 18-6 overall and 7-1 in conference play. Calvin finished in second place in the final MIAA standings, right behind league champion Albion. Albion secured the championship by nipping Calvin 5-4 in the final MIAA regular-season dual match of the year and then defeating Calvin 5-4 just five days later in the MIAA championship finals.

Featuring a roster of five freshmen and five sophomores, the Knights established a Calvin single-season record for victories over the course of the season. Calvin posted a 5-6 record against regionally ranked opponents during the season and picked up a victory over nationally ranked Olivet Nazarene. In addition, Calvin defeated NCAA Division II Ferris State University and posted a 2-1 record at the prestigious Midwest Invitation Tournament in Madison, Wis. During the season, freshmen Melissa Oosterhouse (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Kaitlin Spoelhof (Holland, Mich.) and sophomore Elisabeth Geenen (Holland, Mich.) received regional ranking recognition, with Oosterhouse finishing 17th in the final Central Region rankings.

Geenen led Calvin in singles victories, finishing 19-4 overall while playing at No. 3 singles. Oosterhouse was close behind with an 18-5 singles record while playing at No. 1 singles. Spoelhof was 14-8 at No. 2 singles, sophomore Rachel Strikwerda (Holland, Mich.) 16-5 at No. 4 singles and freshman Michelle Busscher (Whitehall, Mich.) 14-8 at No. 5 singles.

Oosterhouse was named to the All-MIAA first team while Spoelhof and Geenen were both named to the All-MIAA second team.

Men's Tennis Team
Under the direction of fifth-year head coach John Ross, the men’s tennis team took second in the final MIAA standings for the fourth straight year, finishing 5-1 in MIAA dual match play and then reaching the MIAA tournament finals before falling to Kalamazoo 6-3. Calvin posted an overall record of 14-6 and finished ranked 10th in the final Central Region rankings. The Knights were also 6-6 against regionally ranked opponents.

Ricky TiltonSenior Ricky Tilton (Gap, Pa.) was named to the All-MIAA first team for the third straight year and was joined on the All-MIAA first team by junior Marcus Zeilstra (Oak Brook, Ill.). Junior Steve DeMaagd (Grandville, Mich.) was named to the All-MIAA second team.

Tilton was also selected as the MIAA recipient of the Lawrence Green Scholarship Award, given annually to a senior MIAA men’s tennis player who excels academically. In addition, he was named the co-recipient of the MIAA’s Stowe Memorial Award, given to a player who displays ethical virtues and leadership on and off the court. Tilton is the first Calvin recipient of the Stowe Memorial Award since Dave Meester was so honored in 1998 and the first recipient of the Lawrence Green Scholarship Award since Jon VanderArk was so honored in 1997.

Men's Track and Field Team
Led by head coach Jong-il Kim, the men’s track and field team captured its 15th consecutive MIAA title, including its MIAA-leading 33rd overall. During the conference season, Calvin took first place at the MIAA jamboree with 924 points and followed with a first-place total of 251 points at the MIAA championships held at Alma College.

Nate DeHaanAt the MIAA championships, Calvin took first place in seven events. Individual champions from Calvin included senior Ryan Jensen (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in the discus (144-7), junior Nate DeHaan (Byron Center, Mich.) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:17.65), freshman Eric Michel (Naperville, Ill.) in the pole vault (14-1¼), senior Tim Finnegan (Los Alamos, N.M.) in the 10,000 meters (31:55.33), freshman Alex Wrobel (Arden Hills, Minn.) in the 800 meters (1:57.84) and junior Jed Christiansen (Greenville, Pa.) in the 5,000 meters (15:03.15). Calvin’s 4x400-meter relay team of Wrobel, sophomore Zach VanderLaan (Lansing, Mich.), senior Joel Baker (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and senior Jared Cok (Bozeman, Mont.) also took first place with a time of 3:21.43.

Jensen was then named the MIAA’s Most Outstanding Field Event Performer and landed a spot on the All-MIAA team for the second straight year. Christiansen and Finnegan were both named to the All-MIAA team for the third time in their careers while DeHaan and Cok were named to the All-MIAA team for the second time. In addition, Wrobel and Michel were named to the All-MIAA team.

Calvin then sent four individuals to the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, with Jensen competing in the hammer throw, Cok competing in the 400 meters, Christiansen competing in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, and DeHaan competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Jensen and Christiansen both claimed All-American honors at the national meet with Jensen placing eighth in the hammer throw and Christiansen finishing fifth in the 10,000 meters, helping Calvin finish 51st with five points.

With his performance, Jensen became the first hammer throw All-American in MIAA history. Earlier in the year, Jensen reset the Calvin hammer throw record three times before finally settling on a record throw of 179-2 established at a last-chance meet held at North Central College.

Women's Track and Field Team
The women’s track and field team was also led by head coach Jong-il Kim and captured its 19th consecutive MIAA title including its MIAA-leading 23rd overall. Calvin’s current streak of 19 MIAA titles is the longest active championship streak in MIAA women’s athletics history. Calvin captured the 2008 MIAA title by posting a first-place total of 944.5 points at the MIAA jamboree and then rolling up a first-place score of 328.5 points at the MIAA championships.

Sarah WittingenAt the MIAA championships, Calvin took first place in 12 events. Senior Sarah Wittingen (East Grand Rapids, Mich.) and juniors Julie Bratt (Lynden, Wash.) and Lauren Bergstrom (Rochester. Minn.) were all double-winners, with Wittingen winning the 400-meter hurdles (1:01.40) and 100-meter hurdles (14.47), Bratt winning the long jump (16-10 ¾) and triple jump (35-10), and Bergstrom winning the 800 meters (2:16.60) and 1,500 meters (4:36.36). Wittingen captured both hurdle events for the third straight year while Bratt captured the triple jump title for the third straight year. Meanwhile, Bergstrom repeated as league champion in both the 800 and 1,500 meters.

Other individual winners for Calvin included freshman Kim Wigboldy (Chandler, Ariz.) in the javelin (118-3), junior Calah Schlabach (St. Michaels, Ariz.) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:59.01), sophomore Heather Koning (Kalamazoo, Mich.) in the 400 meters (57.62), freshman Jessica Koster (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in the 5,000 meters (18:10.53) and senior Christina Overbeck (Seattle, Wash.) in the 10,000 meters (35:45.57). The winning time by Overbeck in the 10,000 meters was a new MIAA record and also allowed her to win the event for the third straight year.

Calvin’s 4x400-meter relay team of Bergstrom, junior Kristen VanSickel (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Koning and Wittingen also took first place with a time of 3:55.66.

Wittingen was then named the MIAA’s Most Outstanding Runner for the third straight year while Bratt was named the MIAA’s Most Outstanding Field Event Performer. Wittingen also landed a spot on the All-MIAA first team for the fourth straight year while Bratt landed on the team for the third straight season. Overbeck was also named to the All-MIAA team for a third straight year while Bergstrom and Koning were so honored for the second straight season. Also named to the All-MIAA team from Calvin were Koster, sophomore Leigha Oberle (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Schlabach, sophomore Elizabeth Smit (Kirland, Wash.), VanSickel and Wigboldy.

Calvin then sent nine individuals to the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, where the Knights finished 13th with 19 points. Competing for Calvin were Wittingen in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay; Bergstrom in the 800 and 1,500 meters; Overbeck in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters; Koster in the 10,000 meters; Bratt in the triple jump; Smit in the 3,000-meter steeplechase; Koning in the 400 meters and in the 4x400-meter relay; and freshman Rachel Boerner (Bergenfield, N.J.) and VanSickel in the 4x400-meter relay.

Calvin picked up All-American honors in five events, highlighted by Wittingen’s national championship run in the 400-meter hurdles with a school-record time of 59.39, becoming the eighth individual in Calvin women’s track and field history to capture a national title. Wittingen was also seventh in the 100-meter hurdles while Bergstrom was seventh in the 1,500 meters and eighth in the 800 meters, becoming the first individual in MIAA women’s track and field history to post All-American honors in both events in the same year. Calvin’s 4x400-meter relay team of Wittingen, Boerner, VanSickel and Koning also placed fifth, marking the fifth straight year and the 13th time overall that Calvin has posted an All-American finish in the event.

Wittingen was also named the Division III Great Lakes Regional Runner of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association and picked up ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors. Bratt was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District team.