On a hot, sticky day with wind gusts blowing dirt on players and fans alike, the Lakers caught fire with two mercy wins. They first defeated Portland 11-0 in five innings, only to usurp that margin of victory with a 15-0 romping over host South Christian in three innings.
“To go into the regionals and only play eight innings with two mercies is pretty dominating,” said head coach Bill Core. “It was a pretty dominating day today, and I thought today was our most complete day of pitching, hitting, fielding and base running. Everyone was on their A-game today, and it showed.”
Leah Vaughan led Spring Lake offensively and in the circle against Portland. She collected three hits and scored four runs in the regional semifinal victory, while also tossing three shutout innings with six strikeouts.
“She’s a workhorse. She’s done it her whole life,” Core said of Vaughan. “I tried to rest her for the championship game, but she’s a ballplayer and she made some huge plays at third base. She’s thrown a lot of doubleheaders in her life, so she wasn’t asking for rest, but we thought on a hot day it would be a good idea.
Vaughan, who also tossed tree shutout innings with eight strikeouts in 10 batters faced against South Christian belted a rare home run for good measure.
“(Vaughan’s) our leading hitter, but she’s a doubles hitter,” Core said. “She doesn’t lift it very often, so that home run was pretty special.”
The Lakers, however, are not a one-trick pony. Freshman Avery Flynn pitched two shutout innings in relief against Portland, and she collected two hits, barely missing out on a home run as her towering shot to center field hit the top of the fence and fell back into play for a double.
Alicia Mumby (semifinal), Jenna Core, Molly Poole and Layni Wyns (final) all had two-hit games throughout the day Saturday, showcasing Spring Lake’s deep lineup.
“In talking to both coaches, the consensus they shared with me was just how impactful we hit all the way down the lineup,” Core said. “We have no easy outs, and they showed that today.”
Both Lakers wins were dominant from start to finish. The only real moment of drama arrived during the semifinal game against Portland when Spring Lake’s bench realized Portland had hit out of order. The Lakers’ awareness got them out of a small jam, and they never blinked again the rest of the day.
Spring Lake looked like a well-oiled machine, constantly peppering Portland and South Christian with singles and doubles, while also patiently taking walks.
Softball and baseball are similar in a lot of ways, but there is one key difference. Playing on a smaller field, base running becomes more important in softball than baseball. If alert, runners can move to second and third base in the blink of an eye, which is something Spring Lake executed marvelously. Better than most teams at a lot of the obvious skills softball demands, the Lakers also dominate teams with their intangibles.
Looking to continue its fine form, Spring Lake next competes Tuesday at Bailey Park in Battle Creek against Stevensville Lakeshore.
“To go to three straight quarterfinals is pretty crazy,” Core said. “We will enjoy (these wins) today before getting back down to business. It was a complete all around effort.”