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Spring sports recap: track keeps championship streaks alive

Led by head coach John Sparks, the baseball team finished 20-20 overall and in third place in the MIAA with a 15-13 mark. Calvin’s final overall season record marked the third time in the last four years and the sixth time overall that Calvin has hit the 20-win plateau.

Senior Peter Steiner (Chicago, Ill.) was a catalyst for the Knights, compiling a 4-4 record with a 2.76 earned run average. When not pitching, Steiner was Calvin’s starting first baseman, batting .325 with a team-best 24 runs batted in. He also established a new Calvin single-season record for stolen bases, swiping 19 bases in 23 attempts.

Senior teammate Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, N.J.) was 6-3 with a 3.68 earned run average, landing a spot on the All-MIAA second team for the second time in his career. Junior Jake Van Alten (Holland, Mich.) was also a mainstay for Calvin in left field, committing just one error on the season while also batting .325. Van Alten was also named to the All- MIAA second team.

The softball team, under the direction of second-year head coach Sharon DeKleine, finished 6-28 overall and tied for seventh place in the MIAA standings with a 4-12 conference mark.

Sophomore pitcher Shelby Mast (Hudsonville, Mich.) was again a key player for the Knights, earning a spot on the All-MIAA second team for the second straight year. Mast compiled a 3.45 earned run average in 125.2 innings of work. In league play, Mast led the MIAA in innings pitched (82.1), appearances (14) and games started (11) while also ranking third in strikeouts (62) and eighth in earned run average (2.81). In a 2-0 win over Olivet on April 21, Mast tossed a one-hitter. During her collegiate career, Mast has tossed four one-hitters and one no-hitter.

Calvin also showed the ability to hit the longball as the Knights belted 18 home runs during the season. Freshman Lina Avila (Lakewood, Calif.) led the Calvin batting attack with six home runs along with 31 runs batted in and a batting average of .362. Sophomore Hannah DeWeerd (Grand Rapids, Mich.) was another threat at the plate, batting .348 with three homers. Junior Marie Prins (Hudsonville, Mich.) and sophomore Bekah Kline (Rochester, Mich.) added three home runs apiece.

The men’s tennis team was under the direction of veteran head coach John Ross. The Knights finished 16-8 overall and in second place in the MIAA with a 5-1 record. In eight years as Calvin’s men’s tennis coach, Ross has compiled a won-loss record of 119-50 including 35-12 in MIAA regular-season play. Calvin reached the MIAA tournament finals for the fourth time in the last five years this spring, before falling to Kalamazoo College in the tournament final.

Calvin had a strong finish to the season, winning eight of its final nine matches, including a pair of victories over rival Hope. Calvin defeated Hope 8-1 in its regular season finale and three days later defeated Hope 5-0 in the semifinals of the MIAA tournament.

At the conclusion of the MIAA tournament, Calvin senior Andrew DeVlieger (Grand Rapids, Mich.) was named to the All-MIAA first team while senior Roland Eldridge (Charlotte, N.C.) and sophomore Preston Phillips (Morton, Ill.) were both named to the All-MIAA second team. Five Calvin singles players notched double digits in victories during the year, led by Phillips who finished 16-4 while playing at No. 4 singles.

In addition, Eldridge was named the recipient of the MIAA’s Allen B. Stowe Memorial Award. Eldridge is the ninth individual in Calvin history to receive the league’s top sportsmanship award.

The women’s tennis team was under the leadership of 11th-year head coach Jerry Bergsma. The Knights finished 8-11 overall and tied for third place in the MIAA with a 5-3 record. Bergsma is now 131-76 as Calvin’s women’s tennis coach; he is 58-25 against MIAA opponents.

As a team, Calvin cracked the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III regional rankings late in the year but dropped four of its final five matches, all by 5-4 decisions. Of Calvin’s 11 defeats, seven were by 5-4 scores.

Calvin was led by a trio of seniors in Melissa Oosterhouse (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Kaitlin Spoelhof (Holland, Mich.) and Michelle Busscher (Whitehall, Mich.). Oosterhouse and Spoelhof were both named to the All-MIAA first team while Busscher was named to the All-MIAA second team. Oosterhouse was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight year and was also named the recipient of the MIAA’s Karen Caine Scholar-Athlete Award.

Oosterhouse went 18-1 at No. 1 singles for Calvin during the year while Spoelhof went 16-3 at No. 2 singles and Busscher 14-5 at No. 3 singles.

At the NCAA III Singles Tournament, Oosterhouse picked up a first-round win to advance to the Round of 16 where she was eventually defeated. By winning a first-round match, Oosterhouse qualified for Division III All-America honors, becoming the first individual to do so in Calvin women’s tennis history. Oosterhouse was later named a first team Capital One Academic All-American, receiving the honor for the second straight year.

The men’s track and field team was led by second-year head coach Bret Otte and captured a share of its 18th straight MIAA title. Calvin shared the final league crown with Hope, as Hope took first place at the MIAA jamboree with Calvin turning the tables at the MIAA field day in early May, taking first with a score of 212 points.

At the MIAA field day, Calvin took first place in six events led by junior Nick Kramer (Dyer, Ind.) who was a double winner, claiming league titles in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (9:09.98) and 5,000 meters (15:13.01). The title by Kramer in the steeplechase was his second straight in the event. Freshman Ryan Huffman (Maumee, Ohio) won the long jump (22-4 ¼) while junior Dan Kerr (Petoskey, Mich.) was the league champion in the 10,000 meters (31:56.78). Sophomore Greg Whittle (Galesburg, Ill.) won the 1,500 meters (4:01.50) and junior Carson Sterchi (Crystal Lake, Ill.) won the 800 meters (1:56.25) for the second straight year. All six individuals were named to the All-MIAA team.

During the season, Kramer established a new Calvin record in the 5,000 meters, clocking in with a time of 14:17.70. Kramer led a contingent of six Calvin athletes at the NCAA III Championships in Delaware, Ohio. Also competing for Calvin at the national meet were Whittle, Kerr, senior Alex Wrobel (Arden Hills, Minn.), junior Rhett Morici (St. Charles, Ill.) and senior Ben Van Wyk (Sussex, N.J.). At the national meet, Kramer earned a pair of All-America berths, placing third in the steeplechase and fourth in the 5,000 meters. Also claiming an All-America finish was Whittle who placed fourth in the 1,500 meters. The All-America finishes helped Calvin finish in 14th place with a team score of 16 points.

The women’s track and field team, also led by Bret Otte, continued their dominance of the MIAA, winning its 22nd consecutive MIAA title. This is the longest championship streak in MIAA women’s athletics history.

At the MIAA field day, Calvin took first place in 10 events led by senior Sarah Reasoner (Cambridge, Minn.), who was a double winner. Reasoner repeated as champion in both the shot put and discus, winning the shot put with an MIAA- and Calvin-record throw of 47-2 ½ while winning the discus with a toss of 143-9. Junior Jodi Hoekstra (Homer Glen, Ill.) won the 3,000 meter steeplechase (10:52.61) while senior Gretchen Braymer (Erie, Pa.) won the 5,000 meters (18:34.04) and senior Samantha Westveer (Kentwood, Mich.) the 10,000 meters (37:06.60).

Other individual winners for Calvin included sophomore Carissa Verkaik (Holland, Mich.) in the high jump (5-4 ¼), junior Kelly Peterson (Ramsey, Minn.) in the triple jump (35-11 ¼), junior Kaitlin Diemer (Caledonia, Mich.) in the 1,500 meters (4:40.89), senior Rachel Boerner (Bergenfield, N.J.) in the 400 meters (57.24) and freshman Julie Busscher (Hudsonville, Mich.) in the 200 meters (26.55).

Otte was later named the Great Lakes Regional Division III Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year. Six members of the women’s team advanced to the NCAA III Championships. Those individuals included Reasoner, Hoekstra, Boerner, Verkaik, Braymer and sophomore Alyssa Penning (Grand Rapids, Mich.).

At the NCAA III Track and Field Championships, Calvin posted four All- America berths and placed 18th in the final team standings with a collective score of 11 points. Reasoner was a double All-American, placing sixth in the shot put and seventh in the discus. Boerner captured an All-America spot in the 400-meter hurdles, placing fifth with a season-best time of 60.74. She concluded her Calvin track and field career as an eight-time NCAA III All-American, matching the second-highest total in Calvin women’s track and field history. In addition, Braymer garnered the first All-America plaque of her Calvin running career, placing seventh in the 3,000 meter steeplechase.