COTTONWOOD — To many, a 5-9 record isn’t considered very good.
However, when you consider that Lakeview High School compiled that won-loss mark in its first year of varsity softball, it’s impressive.
The Lakers needed to win a play-in game against Southwest United to qualify for the Section 3A tournament. They won, 12-11.
“I just wanted to win that game,” Lyndsey Peterson said.
That meant Lakeview had the gigantic task of playing top-seeded Wabasso (18-1) Tuesday. The Rabbits were ranked No. 1 in the state.
“We knew they were a really good team,” Peterson said. “Their hitters were good.”
Peterson is an eighth-grader that has been pressed into pitching duties for the Lakers. Her natural position is first base.
She could have easily been intimidated by Wabasso, but she didn’t seem to be, although she surrendered three runs in the first inning.
Peterson settled down after that rocky start, fielding bunts on both sides of the mound as the Rabbits utilized their bunt-and-run game.
Wabasso scored a run in the second inning and didn’t score in the third inning.
The young pitcher appeared very composed.
The score was 4-0 heading into the fourth inning, when the Rabbits scored a run to make it 5-0.
Drawing from her mound experience as a youngster, Peterson found a groove and gave a good account of herself against one of the most established fastpitch softball programs in Minnesota.
“I wanted to get it in (the strike zone),” she said.
Peterson was moving the ball around and using both sides of the plate.
She was able to strike out Ashley Fennern, her mound opponent who took a .532 batting average into tournament action.
Peterson was nervous, although she didn’t show any outward signs.
“Some hitters, I was throwing it on the outside because they were having problems with that pitch,” Peterson said. “I tried to get it where they couldn’t get it.”
In their third time facing the Lakers’ hurler, the Rabbits made adjustments, scoring four runs in the fifth inning to make it 9-0.
“Some hitters, I worked inside, but it didn’t work out as well so I went for the outside,” Peterson said.
Hitting six doubles in the game, Wabasso won by the 10-run rule, 10-0, in six innings at Francis Manderscheid Field.
For the good-sized crowd who didn’t know that Peterson is just an eighth-grader, they had to be impressed.
Lakeview lost a losers’ bracket game to Edgerton (9-1) and was eliminated from further tournament play.
“I thought we’d do OK,” Peterson said. “I was hoping for the best with this the first year of varsity. I didn’t think we’d do bad. I think we surprised some teams.”
Last year, Lakeview played a junior varsity schedule to get ready for the 2008 season.
She also participates in volleyball and basketball, but softball is her favorite sport.
“I kind of wanted to play first because I actually didn’t pitch for a team before,” Peterson said. “I started pitching and kind of liked it. At first, I had a lot of problems. I needed to work on getting it to the catcher.”
She worked her footwork and mechanics, getting them down better in each game.
It will be interesting to see how her pitching career develops.
Fastpitch is about 75 percent pitching, and with Peterson, the Lakers are in good shape for the next four years.
Lyndsey Peterson’s life has taken several turns.
She was born in Rochester.
She was two-years-old when the family moved to Norcross, Ga, — a suburb of Atlanta — when her father, Scott, worked on his Ph.D. in psychology at Georgia Tech.
She was six years old when the family moved to Lawton, Okla., where her father picked up his first college teaching job at Cameron University.
The school was located in Lawton (pop. 30,000), which was about 50 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
“I played T-ball in Georgia,” Lyndsey said. “I started playing when I was four. I liked it. I pretty much liked all of it.”
T-ball consisted of hitting a baseball off a tee, with boys and girls both participating. Learning how to hit and to play the game was more important than keeping track of a team’s wins and losses.
In Oklahoma, she learned to play softball — as a first baseman.
When she was nine years old and made a 10-under traveling team.
“Down there, they try to get you started early,” Lyndsey said. “I was younger, but I felt comfortable with them. They were all my friends.”
Only about half of those players who tried out made the team.
“Our coaches looked at different skills — hitting, running and fielding — and called us back if we made it or not,” said Lyndsey. “I felt pretty comfortable. I felt I did good at the tryouts. They called back, and I was excited. Pretty much, if I was on the team, I was happy.”
She then played two years on a 12-under traveling team, which played in the 2004 nationals in Tulsa when she was 11. Lawton placed 23rd.
“We won a few games,” Lyndsey said. “The teams were from everywhere in the U.S. We played pretty good for the teams we were facing. They were big towns, and we were a little town.”
The first baseman learned how competitive softball can be.
In her second year with the 12-under team, it failed to reach the nationals.
She also picked up pitching at age 12.
“One of the pitcher’s moms helped me,” Lyndsey said. “She taught me different ways to pitch. I started practicing it more. It went OK. I wasn’t that good at first, but I started getting better.
“She basically taught me different ways to hold the ball. She taught me the change-up — basically, that’s all.”
Before she started sixth grade, another move was in store for the family, as her father took a teaching job at SMSU. He’s been there three years.
“I was kind of excited, but I was going to miss softball on the traveling team,” Lyndsey said. “We finished the season before we moved.”
She was excited to go to a new town: Cottonwood.
“The day after we moved, I broke my (right) leg,” Peterson said. “I was jumping out of a tree.”
She wore a cast for six weeks, having it removed in late September.
She was new in sixth grade at Lakeview, but her classmates were very helpful.
“They were all pretty nice,” she said. “They helped me out. They carried my books for me.”
Her first impressions of Lakeview? It was much smaller than the school she attended in Oklahoma.
“I thought it was real small school, but I kind of liked it because everybody knew everybody,” said Lyndsey. “It wasn’t like Oklahoma.”
Her brother, Tyler — a junior pitcher/shortstop on Lakeview’s baseball team — serves as a good role model for his sister.
He’s been helpful working with Lyndsey on her hitting.
“He tells me how to set up for the outside pitch, hitting it to left field and not pulling it,” Lyndsey said.
For the third year, she will play park-rec softball. It’s slowpitch.
“It’s fun,” said Lyndsey, who is a shortstop/third baseman. “I like having fun and the fact that I can hit (the ball) further.”
She has shown occasional power as a hitter, hitting a ball over the fence off the pitching machine this spring.
“Hopefully, I can do it this summer,” Peterson said.
She hasn’t abandoned fastpitch, as she is planning to attend pitching clinics.
“I’m working on my fastball and change-up,” Lyndsey said. “I learned a dropball (in Oklahoma). It’s OK. I wasn’t prepared to throw it this year. I need to work on it.”
Ridgewater College finished 2-2 and fourth in the NJCAA Division III World Series after losing to Gloucester (N.J.) Tuesday, 6-3.
The Warriors (36-7-1) lose 12 sophomores off this year’s team, including third baseman Matt Bauer (Tracy). He went 0-for-5 Tuesday.
Head coach Dwight Kotila has resigned after 10 seasons and having led Ridgewater to four consecutive World Series appearances.
It was the best finish since the Warriors were second in 2005.