Grand Valley State University shortstop Lydia Goble hit .366 a year ago for the Lakers.
Do you know what Goble had to say about that? We would be surprised.
“It was an off season, and I knew I had to work on what I was struggling with,” said Goble, of Schoolcraft. “I know my stats weren’t that bad last year, but in my mind I definitely struggled last year.”
Those struggles have only motivated Goble to come back stronger this season, and it has paid off for her and the Lakers. Grand Valley returns to the playoffs and Goble is up for Player of the Year honors.
Grand Valley is ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Midwest Region as No. 3 at Indianapolis University. Grand Valley, 40-6 overall, is aiming for its third straight regional crown, and it all starts Thursday when the Lakers take on sixth-seeded Ohio Dominican at 1:30 p.m.
Goble is one of the main reasons for the success of Grand Valley. She’s hitting .480 this spring, which ranks sixth in the nation in Division II. Goble, who has 48 RBIs, was selected as one of 25 finalists for the NFCA Division II National Player of the Year.
“Last year I struggled with the fact that most of these teams and players knew who I was, how I played, and they challenged me with things that they knew I couldn’t do. wasn’t very good,” Goble said. “I knew I had to work on what I was struggling with. My teammates and coach (Dana) Callihan pushed me in training and made sure I was uncomfortable every day so I could improve a little every day.
It’s not just what Goble did to the marble that made it so valuable. Callihan said Goble also had a big season with the glove.
“Lydia wants to do whatever she can to help her team win, whether or not it means her stats,” Callihan said. “But at the same time, she is having a phenomenal year. She carried our team offensively, and on top of that, she plays shortstop and made some defensive plays that are real gems. They would be on the highlight reel if people had it on film. She gives everything she can give when she steps onto the pitch and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.
Goble isn’t the only Laker enjoying a monster season. The Lakers are getting another big year from redshirt junior pitcher Hannah Beatus, who is 18-2. Grand Valley also has three batters over .400, with Joanna Cirrincione and Kaitlin Lynch joining Goble. Fifth-year senior Taylor Rieger is cleaning up and is also a player to watch.
Will GVSU’s throwing and hitting add to another regional championship for the Lakers, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight season? Callihan said it would take more than that.
“I think defense is going to be key going forward this weekend for all teams,” she said. “There are good shots on both sides of the board this year in both regionals. Which teams can launch their offense and play defense behind their pitchers is going to be important.
“We are going to have to elevate our game because everyone is elevating theirs. At this point in the season, everyone has your spray roster, history, and players to watch. It’s about keeping everyone healthy and playing the best ball possible at this stage of the season.