A quick glance at the Grand Valley State University softball roster shows no seniors.
A deeper dive reveals that because last season was mostly lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all players were granted an extra year of eligibility.
The Lakers are getting plenty of leadership this spring starting with Nikoma Holmen at the plate.
"We missed out on a whole year," Holmen said. "Now we come in, it's my last year, I just want to go out with the best season possible so I think that has been everybody's mindset this whole time."
Holmen does not plan to use her extra year of eligibility despite being in the top five already in many Laker career offensive categories.
"Records are cool but that is not why I play," Holmen said. "I play because I love the sport and I love the team atmosphere and the team chemistry so maybe I missed out on some records but that is not really what I am worried about."
GVSU is also getting outstanding production in the circle from Hannah Beatus, a fourth year player with two years of eligibility still remaining after missing a good portion of 2019 due to injury, it gave her a chance to see the game in a different way.
"When I was injured you can't really lead with you physical abilities it was more so the mental aspect of talking with pitchers in the bullpen or talking with teammates in the dugout or may be seeing pieces of the game that other people might not be paying attention to." Beatus said. "I think it has kind of helped shape different aspects of leadership roles that I have tried to combine into one."
Despite the challenges of the last year plus, this Laker team found a way to win 12 straight games heading into the NCAA Regional they are hosting this week.
"I think all the adversity we've had to encounter the last year they have really gelled in the last month or so knowing that is could be their last game," sixth year head coach Dana Callihan said. "I think they are giving everything on the field, they are leaving it out there and it is showing in the numbers."
GVSU opened the tournament with a 4-0 win over Trevecca Nazarene on Thursday behind a home run from Holmen and 11 strikeouts from Beatus.
The Lakers will play again on Friday at 11 a.m. just two wins from returning to the Division II Softball World Series.