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Spring Lake softball team sweeps Fruitport

Josh VanDyke • May 1, 2018 at 12:35 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Rivalries often bring out the best in competitors, and even though they are no longer conference foes, the Spring Lake and Fruitport softball programs still have the firepower to put on a show when they meet on a diamond.

That was the case Monday as the Lakers scored 23 runs in a non-conference doubleheader against the Trojans to sweep their old rivals from across the bayou.

GAME 1: Spring Lake 10, Fruitport 3

Leah Vaughan was overpowering in the opener, as she struck out 12 batters and only allowed three hits through seven innings of work to earn the win.

Molly Poole led the Lakers with three hits and three RBIs, while Madelyn Nelson and Layni Wyns each had two hits. Jenna Core added a solo home run for the Lakers, who had eight players record a hit and a run.

Aurora Wilks recorded a three-run homer to account for the Trojans' offense from the plate and was also the starting pitcher from the circle.

GAME 2: Spring Lake 13, Fruitport 3 (six innings)

Poole continued her hot streak from the plate in Game 2, blasting a pair of two-run homers to account for six RBIs for the Lakers.

Madelyn Nelson finished 4-for-4 with a single, double and two RBI triples, while Lauren Hellman added three hits.

Lauren Somers was the winning pitcher from the circle for the Lakers, pitching all six innings and striking out four.

Aurora Wilkes added a solo home run to lead Fruitport, while Alli Newsted added an RBI double.

Spring Lake improves to 12-0 with the doubleheader sweep and showcased the potential of this year's edition of the Lakers.

"We're in a good spot right now," said Spring Lake head coach Bill Core after the game. "I thought we hit the ball really well today. Even some of our outs were hit hard.

"Aurora threw a great game against Grand Haven on Saturday, but we were able to hit her pretty hard today in that first game. We have a tremendous amount of respect for her as a senior pitcher and we knew we had to be patient at the plate. She can just dominate a game when she's out there. She hit two big home runs today, too, so she can get it done at the plate, as well."

The Lakers have a dominant pitcher of their own and that mixed with a hard-hitting lineup make Spring Lake a scary opponent when firing on all cylinders.

"Leah was pretty special that first game," added Core. "She had 12 strikeouts and other than that three-run homer to Aurora, she was just dominant. She's been off to a good start for us, and we're tough to beat when we have that kind of pitching behind us.

"We had a lot of kids with two hits in that first game, and we hit pretty well throughout the lineup all day, so I was happy to see that."

Despite the pair of wins, Core cautioned his team about building bad habits over the course of a 12-0 start to the spring.

"We have to be careful because sometimes I think we start scoreboard watching and lose focus when we have a lead and we relax," he added. "Instead of putting people away, we let people get a couple of runs and make things interesting. That's not a good habit to pick up.

"We told the girls at the beginning of the year that we have a pretty good team, and because of that, we are going to be pretty critical. We have lofty goals and a roster that is pretty experienced, so they can handle it."

MICROSCOPIC MARGIN FOR ERROR

For Fruitport, the chances of beating Spring Lake were heavily reliant on playing a clean game from the field and adding some timing hitting on top of that.

The Trojans didn't do much of either of those things in the opener, as the team committed five errors and only recorded three hits.

"We felt like we were close, but we just had one or two bad innings in both of the games and then it got away from us," said Fruitport head coach Bob Dorman. "We had five errors in that first game. You're not going to beat good teams when you're kicking the ball around like that.

"We understand what we need to work on, but it's frustrating. We knew we had to play our A-game to beat them, and I don't think we did today. Our pitching was right there, but we needed more run support.

"When we strike out 12 times in a game, we make it easy for them. We only had four the second game, so that was an improvement."

Fruitport strung together some hits in the second game of the doubleheader, but a few too many swings for the fences resulted in missed opportunities.

"Alli Newstead probably had two home runs today if there was any wind," added Dorman. "She had great swings and great contact, so that would be nice to see. The bottom of our lineup really came through for us and got some runners on base.

"Aurora lifted a couple shots out to space. The problem is that that gets contagious. Now everyone wants to hit home runs and they start swinging for the fences instead of just trying to get on base. We aren't hitting one through nine yet, but we'll get there."

REVIVING THE RIVALRY

Despite not playing for a conference crown, both coaches acknowledge the enjoyment that the local rivalry brings to the season.

"I've got great respect for Bill and these games are always fun, but it's a little different now that we aren't in the same conference," added Dorman. "I'm really glad we still play each other because everyone in the community enjoys these matchups.

"At the same time, the intensity and emotions aren't as high as they used to be. That's just the fact of the matter when you aren't playing in the same league. If this was a conference game, Aurora probably wouldn't have seen a pitch. It's a different matchup now, but it's still a great thing to be a part of."

Core views the non-conference contests as a chance to prepare for a possible playoff collision with the Trojans.

"We might not be conference rivals anymore, but all these girls know each other from travel ball," he added. "Bob is a good guy, and we've coached against each other for a long time, so there's a long history between both the programs and the two coaches.

"We're probably going to play them in the districts, too, so this is a way to matchup with someone early on in the season and prepare for what you might see come playoff time."

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