WABASSO - The best season in Lakeview softball history got even sweeter for the Lakers on Tuesday in the opening rounds of the Section 3A playoffs in Wabasso.
The Lakers, seeded fourth in the 3A-South sub-section, started their day with the first-ever section tournament win in school history, a 7-5 victory over No. 5 seed Murray County Central. That was certainly a joyous occasion for the team, but it wouldn't match the thrill they got later in the evening.
Taking on Wabasso, the sub-section's top seed, the Lakers struck for four runs in the fourth inning and rallied behind the pitching of senior Lyndsey Peterson and the team's defense to close out a 4-2 upset win over the Rabbits.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Lakeview seniors Sarah Berg, left, Angela Timm, center and Lyndsey Peterson celebrate following their 4-2 win over Wabasso in a second-round Section 3A tournament game played Tuesday in Wabasso.
For a softball program that was started up just six years ago, Tuesday's two wins were monumental. The highest win total the team had achieved in previous seasons was seven games. When the Lakers take the field in Slayton at 1 p.m. Saturday against Dawson-Boyd in the next round, they'll have the opportunity to double that total.
Peterson, Sarah Berg and Angela Timm, the Lakers' three seniors, have been around the Lakeview softball program through most of its existence, and Lakeview head coach Tony Johnson said he's thrilled to see them achieve this level of success.
"They've been with the program four or five years now and have worked so hard to get beyond that first playoff game," Johnson said. "This is just huge. Not only did we get that first one, but we made it past the second and we're playing on Saturday.
"I don't know how the girls are going to react because we've never done this before. It's going to be pretty interesting, but it'll be fun. The kids are really pumped."
Added Peterson, "It's so exciting, oh my gosh. Us three seniors are just so happy.
"We just have to keep playing hard. We can't let down now."
Wabasso entered its game against Lakeview coming off an 18-2 five-inning win over Southwestern United earlier in the day. The Rabbits had a nine-run inning and an eight-run inning in that game, but couldn't find their offense against Peterson and the Lakers.
Peterson gave up a run in the first inning when Wabasso's Kimberly Frank led off with a single and later scored when she stole third and the pick-off throw from the catcher went into the outfield. But Peterson held the Rabbits down from there. She limited Wabasso to six hits, striking out nine batters and walking none.
A key moment in the game was in the third inning when Wabasso had the bases loaded with one out and a 1-0 lead. Peterson responded by striking out Jennifer Rohlik, then got Becky Franta out by fielding a ball just in front of home plate and stepping on the base to end the inning.
Johnson thought Peterson and his defense did a tremendous job all game against the Rabbits, who had piled on the runs against Southwestern United with slap hits and bunts.
"I wanted to feel them out because we hadn't played them since last year and they'd graduated two or three girls," said Johnson, whose team lost to Wabasso 8-6 in the first round of the playoffs last season. "I thought we'd keep it outside and work them up in the zone a little bit to see what they're capable of doing. Especially their slap hitters, we wanted to keep them up in the zone and see if we could get some pop ups, which was what we got.
"We threw a few inside just to get them excited, and a few change-ups, too. Lyndsey just did a good job of working the zone on them and keeping them off tempo."
Lakeview used the momentum from its escape act to get things going offensively in the following inning. Abby Lee, Peterson and Berg each singled to open the inning, with Berg driving in Lee on a hit off the base of the center field fence.
Frank, Wabasso's starting pitcher, then walked Rachel Kurtenbach to load the bases with no outs. She got Timm to pop out to the catcher, but then Mallory Meyer hit a grounder to short and Peterson beat the throw home to give Lakeview the lead. Berg later scored on a passed ball and Kurtenbach added the team's fourth run when Caitlin Louwagie hit a grounder to Frank and Frank went to first instead of holding the runner at third.
Frank held the Lakers to five hits in the game and struck out nine, but the damage was already done. Wabasso added one run in the bottom of the sixth, but couldn't muster any more offense from there.
"We didn't capitalize on things like we should have," Wabasso head coach John VanLoy said. "The big hitters for us didn't get key hits for us or get on when we needed it. ... We made some pretty bad decisions defensively, and all around, too.
"But it's time. Lakeview can go and have fun. I'm tired. It's too bad that we didn't go on. It's a nice team, but they just lacked that fire that they need to have in their bellies. Maybe next year. We'll see how it goes."
Wabasso, which finishes the season at 12-8, will return everyone on its roster next season.
Lakeview had one big inning offensively against Wabasso in its second-round game, and it used two big innings to beat MCC in the Lakers' playoff opener.
The Lakers scored three runs in the bottom of the third against the Rebels to take a 3-0 lead. MCC tied the game over the next two innings before Lakeview piled up four runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain control.
Peterson opened the bottom half of the inning by belting the first pitch she saw from MCC starter Ashley Clarke over the center field wall. Timm added an RBI triple later in the inning, and Clarke gave a few free passes to the Lakers with a pair of walks and a hit batter before being taken out of the game.
Lakeview needed just five hits to score its seven runs in the game.
"Nine walks and a hit batter, that does not help you at all," MCC head coach James Wajer said. "You have to make them earn everything they get. To their credit, when they had runners on, they earned it."
MCC made things interesting in the top of the seventh. Jade Giese got on with a hit up the middle and stole second, then was driven in by Makenzie Giese to make the score 7-4. Makenzie Giese later scored when Lakeview center fielder Corbyn Wee was unable to make a leaping grab off a hit from Kristi Bose. With the tying run at the plate and two outs, Peterson got MCC's Taylor Schreier to fly out to center to end the game.
Jade Giese and Makenzie Giese each finished 2-for-4 at the plate, with Jade Giese scoring two runs and Makenzie Giese recording a triple.
Peterson was 2-for-4 with a double, a homer and two runs scored. Berg walked four times and scored twice.
Peterson also earned the complete-game win from the circle. She struck out nine and allowed nine hits and one walk.
Wajer said he was proud of how his players battled until the end and gave themselves a shot to tie the game in the seventh. His team finishes the season with a 12-9 record. The Rebels will return all but two players (Makenzie Giese and Courtny Blomgren) next season.
"They're our two cornerstones when you talk about first and third base," Wajer said of his seniors. "They've both been with me six years and have both been starting for four. They're great kids and they've left a legacy for our girls to follow.
"We have our pitching back and middle back and hopefully we'll have a good summer and see what happens from there."
SWU000 20-2 1 3
Wabasso918 0X-18 16 2
SWU-Ida Rogers-Ferguson. WAB-Kimberly Frank. WP-Frank. LP-Rogers-Ferguson. 3B: WAB-Frank, Callie Rohlik. 2B: WAB-Erin Liebl.
MCC000 210 2-5 9 1
Lakeview003 040 X-7 5 2
MCC-Ashley Clarke, Kristi Bose (5). LV-Lyndsey Peterson. WP-Peterson. LP-Clarke. HR: MCC-Kenda Blomgren; LV-Peterson. 3B: MCC-Makenzie Giese; LV-Angela Timm. 2B: LV-Peterson.
Lakeview000 400 0-4 5 3
Wabasso100 001 0-2 6 2
LV-Lyndsey Peterson. WAB-Kimberly Frank. WP-Peterson. LP-Frank. 2B: WAB-Mallory Meyer. LOB: LV 4; WAB 6.