Any extended post-season run by the Lowell girls softball team will be delivered through the strength of its ace Morgan Groom.
The junior is West Michigan’s forgotten one. That red-headed stepchild. Heading into Saturday’s district game against Forest Hills Central, Groom is 14-4 with a .64 earned run average while averaging 13 strikeouts per game.
That only makes her third best in West Michigan, if one believes what they read. Groom is looking up at Rockford’s Tricia Graham and Hudsonville’s Sara Dreisenga. Or is she?
“Dreisenga and Graham I think have more speed, however, I believe Groom’s pitches have better movement,” said Lowell softball coach Bill McElroy. “Morgan also doesn’t get the press of a Hudsonville or Rockford.”
Lowell and Groom can change that starting on Saturday at East Kentwood.
The Red Arrows finished the regular season at 23-8. Lowell was second in the O-K White at 8-2 behind Northview (9-1).
The conference championship was decided in the closing stretch of the regular season when the two softball powers split a doubleheader. Lowell won the opener 3-0 behind a grand, no-hit performance from Groom. The Lowell hurler also provided the winning hit with a three-run home run over the left field fence. Northview pushed across the title-clinching run in the seventh inning of game two for a 2-1 victory.
“It was tough. We anticipated winning the conference this year, but couldn’t quite get it done, however, those were two great softball games against Northview,” McElroy said.
The Lowell coach says his Red Arrows will carry a “win the next game mind set” into the districts. “You can’t look past anybody,” he explained.
The Red Arrows will face a Ranger club which rallied for six runs in the top of the seventh inning in a non conference game earlier this year at Ada Park. The game was eventually suspended by lightning with Lowell trailing 11-7.
“It was a great game for us,” said FHC coach Jennifer Jackson. The game was never completed, but that doesn’t erase the good feeling and confidence the Rangers took away from the suspended game.
Another factor, non factor could be that none of the teams (FHC, Caledonia and Kentwood) in the district faced Groom this year.
While Groom has been a big piece of Lowell’s success, the Red Arrows have also shined at the plate. Lowell holds a .319 team batting average.
“The girls have done a good job of working on having good at-bats, going to the plate knowing what’s a good pitch for them to hit,” McElroy explained.
Lowell’s defense has also been pretty darn good. The Red Arrows boast a .975 fielding percentage.
It’s success landed Lowell a number of post season conference honors.
Recognized with O-K White All Conference honors were Groom, Jenna Smith (catcher), Lyndsey Crawford (outfielder) and Sarah Mogor outfielder.
Brianna Richardson (second base), Kelly Wyckoff (shortstop) and Kaylie Petroejle (pitcher/outfielder) were named on the honorable mention list.
“Kaylie was 9-4. She had a pretty good year. There are a lot of teams who would have loved to had her as their starter,” McElroy said.
Lowell’s season ended last year with a loss in the regional final to eventual state champion, Hudsonville. A possible Dreisenga/Groom match-up may loom ahead. But first, they must win that next game.