year we had a team that learned throughout the year how to win. This year,
we have a team that knows how to win. Our goal this year is to play some
great teams very good and to play some good teams great."
the quote that head softball coach Mike Tomlinson spoke at the beginning of the
2003 season. Not only did his team
achieve its goal, but it also proved they knew how to win and kept on
Universitys softball team had perhaps its most prolific season in school
history winning its second consecutive Mid-Con Tournament title, taking a
game at the NCAA Regional Championships and finishing with a record of 34-26-1;
all in just its fourth year of existence. And
the honors didnt stop there.
players were named first team All-Mid-Con while four others were named to the
second team. The Golden Grizzlies
also swept the top individual awards, Pitcher of the Year, Player of the Year,
and Co-Coach of the Year. Senior
third baseman Ericka Burns (Clinton, Ont.) was tabbed the Mid-Cons best
performer at the plate and in the field as she was named the conferences
Player of the Year and first team All-Mid-Con.
Burns, who finished the season with a .426 batting average, was also
named Mid-Con Tournament MVP on her way to helping the Golden Grizzlies qualify
for the NCAA Tournament.
standout pitcher Nicole Marzano (McHenry, Ill.) was titled Mid-Cons Pitcher
of the Year after going 12-5 on the mound and leading the league with a 1.30
ERA. She joined Burns, as well as
first baseman Jennifer Granger (Troy, Mich.) and outfielder Linnea Utecht
(Oshkosh, Wis.) on the Mid-Cons first team.
Receiving second team honors were second baseman Nina Catanzaro (Shelby
Twp., Mich.), shortstop Erica Judge (Fort Collins, Colo.), catcher Megan Piar
(Lancaster, Ohio) and pitcher Julie Anderson (Portland, Mich.).
Rounding out the honors was Tomlinson who, as a first-year head coach,
was named Co-Coach of the Year for leading OU to post season play.
got the ball rolling down south as the team faced #24 Georgia Tech in the
University of Floridas Cox Communications Classic. Anderson pitched all seven innings for the Grizzlies who
slipped by the Yellow Jackets 1-0.
Virginia Tech was the next big spring break victory for the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland defeated the Hokies 6-4, in the Plant City Tournament in Florida. OU finished off its tough early season schedule with a 5-16-1 mark, with all of its games being played away from home, before starting the conference season at Western Illinois.
would sweep the Westerwinds on the opening day by scores of 13-0 and 7-1.
However, Western Illinois would take one game against the Grizzlies on
Saturday with a 4-3 victory before Oakland bounced back to take the final game
in the series 5-0. In their next
conference match-up on the weekend of April 11-12, UMKC would travel to
Rochester to face Oakland in its first home games of the season.
match-up of the defending tournament champions and the defending regular season
champions, the Golden Grizzlies had no trouble taking three-of-four from the
Kangaroos. As a tournament preview,
Oakland took both games on the first day winning 1-0 and 5-0 before falling 2-1
on Saturday and then taking the last game 2-0 in eight innings.
City, Utah was the next conference venue on Oaklands list. Southern Utah entered the series 7-0 in conference play and
undefeated in its last 11 games. The
Golden Grizzlies broke the winning streak, beating the Thunderbirds 3-1 in
the opening game. However, SUU
battled back to take the second game 7-6 for the split.
The second day of the series was much the same as Southern Utah grabbed
the first game with a 3-2 victory while Oakland thundered a 9-2 response in the
second. The series put Oaklands
conference record at 8-4 and placed them third overall in conference standings.
facing conference foes IUPUI and Valparaiso, Oakland would garner three big wins
over Bowling Green and Michigan State. On
April 22nd, the Golden Grizzlies swept the Falcons 4-1 and 5-0.
In the second game, Marzano was on the mound and fired a no-hitter
the third of her career and teams first of the season.
Still on a high from the previous day, Marzano pitched four innings
against Michigan State for a 1-0 victory. Marzano
allowed just three hits before relief pitcher Anderson took the mound for the
save allowing only two hits.
Saturday and Sunday the team traveled to Indianapolis to face IUPUI in a two-day
four-game Mid-Con series. The
Grizzlies were victims of a no-hitter in the first game, dropping a 2-0 decision
before taking the next three 3-0, 5-0, and 3-1.
With the wins, Oaklands conference record stood at 11-5 and the
Grizzlies found themselves in second place in the league behind Southern Utah.
On May 2nd
and 3rd the Grizzlies hosted their last set of conference games
against Valparaiso. The Golden
Grizzlies had no trouble sweeping the Crusaders and improved their conference
record to 15-5, finishing runner-up in the Mid-Con standings.
team prepared for the conference tournament in Macomb, Illinois, they entered
the weekend as the #2 seed behind Southern Utah.
Oakland would face Western Illinois in the first game on May 9th.
the host team, the Golden Grizzlies were unstoppable as they defeated the
Westerwinds 7-4 in the opening game of the tournament.
Leading the Grizzlies to the win were Catanzaro and Utecht.
Catanzaro went three-for-four at the plate and scored twice while Utecht
was three-for-three, scored once and drove in two.
Earning the win on the mound was Marzano who allowed one run off six
hits. Next up for Oakland was UMKC who had earlier defeated Southern Utah.
The two teams battled through nine innings with the Kangaroos coming out
on top with the win, 3-2. With the
loss, the Grizzlies put themselves in a familiar situation at the Mid-Con
Tournament. If Oakland were to win the title, the team would have to win
three consecutive times on Saturday. And
just that they did.
Utah was first in the knock-out round of the losers bracket for Oakland and it
defeated the T-Birds 3-1. Eventual
tournament MVP Burns went one-for-two at bat, scoring twice with two RBIs.
In the circle was Anderson who pitched all seven innings for the Golden
Grizzlies giving up four hits, one run and one walk.
of last years tournament championship final, it was UMKC vs. Oakland in the
second game of the day. Since UMKC
had yet to lose a game in the tournament, Oakland would have to defeat the
Kangaroos twice in order to defend its title.
In the first game, it was once again Burns who would be hot at the plate
for the Golden Grizzlies. Burns
tripled in the first inning and was then brought home by Utecht to give the
Grizzlies a 1-0 lead. Burns went on
to bang our two more hits and drive in a pair of runs to help Oakland beat UMKC
championship game of the Mid-Con Tournament, Oakland and UMKC squared off for
the seventh time in the 2003 season. The
Grizzlies managed to defeat the Kangaroos 2-1, scoring early in the game and
holding the lead to take the victory. Steady
on the mound was Anderson who pitched the entire game for OU, giving up just
three hits, one run and one walk while fanning six.
As a result of their successes, five Grizzlies were named to the
All-Tournament team. Burns (also tabbed Tournament MVP), Anderson, Marzano, Piar,
and Christina Schulte (Rochester, Mich.) were all given the honor.
Oakland would represent the Mid-Continent Conference at the NCAA Regional
Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. Entering as the number seven seed, the Golden
Grizzlies braved nationally ranked #9 California, the defending national
champions. Anderson started in the
circle for Oakland and gave up just one run in two innings.
But Cal, the eventual regional champ, went to collect 11 hits off of
three Oakland hurlers as it went on to an 8-0, six-inning win over the Golden
then faced intra-state rival Western Michigan in the losers bracket.
In order to stay alive in the tournament, the Golden Grizzlies needed to
get the win against the Broncos. In
an intense battle, Oakland came out victorious, defeating Western Michigan 4-3
beating them for the third time in 2003.
The Grizzlies were down 3-2 heading into the sixth inning when senior
Lauren Seffens (Ortonville, Mich.) stepped up to bat with two outs and runners
on second and third. Seffens
hammered a single to left center to bring in Burns and Piar and give the
Grizzlies the win. Also leading
Oakland at the plate was Burns who first gave the team a lead with a home run in
her first at bat.
final game of the 2003 season, Oakland faced Notre Dame.
The No. 4 seed defeated Oakland in seven innings by a score of 5-0 to end
the Grizzlies 2003 season.
Both the players and coaches of the 2003 team will always remember a season that will say goodbye to eight seniors. A team that knew how to win and when to win won with pride. As coach Tomlinson was left saying, Were now a team that people respect. And a team that a lot of people have come to fear.