SLAYTON - Today at the Marshall Softball Complex, the Lakeview and Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian softball teams will be battling head-to-head for the chance to reach the Section 3A championship, where undefeated Kerkhoven Murdock Sunburg, the state's No. 3-ranked team awaits.
Amidst wet conditions, Lakeview downed Dawson-Boyd 7-1 in the double elimination round Saturday at the Murray County Central Sports Complex in Slayton before falling 1-0 against the Fighting Saints. After being defeated 4-0 by KMS in the semifinal round, Edgerton/SWC stayed alive in the loser's bracket by outlasting the Blackjacks 6-2.
"I know we can come back and fight with (KMS) again," Lakeview senior pitcher Lyndsey Peterson said. "This is what we've been working for all year. We have to keep fighting."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Lakeview’s Emily Streich (12) high-fives Lakers head coach Tony Johnson after a two-run home run by teammate Lyndsey Peterson in the third inning of Saturday’s Section 3A softball game against Dawson-Boyd in Slayton.
While the Lakers are still striving for more success, this season is already going down in the school history books. The 2012 softball team now holds the winningest record (14-7-1), by doubling the team's record for wins, and has advanced the furthest in team playoff history by three rounds.
"I'm very pleased with how the girls played," Lakeview head coach Tony Johnson said. "They put out a very good effort."
It turned out to be a pitchers duel in Game 2. Coming into the matchup, Lakeview knew it had its hands full as the Fighting Saints are undefeated at 23-0. KMS head coach Eileen Suter said that junior pitchers Samantha Dunn and Erin Haglund have certainly had plenty of success this season.
"Coming in here, Erin has given up a total of 14 hits in her 10 or 11 games," Suter said. "And she's gotten at least three no-hitters and one perfect game. She doesn't give up a lot of runs, only six runs all year, five of them earned."
The Lakers mustered only one hit again Haglund, who earned 11 strikeouts, hit one batter with a pitch and didn't give up any walks in the contest. That hit came from Peterson in the fourth inning.
Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Haglund blasted a double down the left-field line. Then, with two outs away, Lori McCain hammered an RBI single up the middle to give KMS a 1-0 lead.
"Most of the time, our bats have been backing us up this season," Suter said. "They were a little quiet (Saturday)."
Much of that had to do with the work Peterson did in the circle.
"That Lyndsey Peterson is an athlete," Suter said. "So is (Sarah) Berg at shortstop. I have a lot of respect for those two. They did a great job."
Peterson struck out three batters, walked one and gave up five hits in the game. McCain finished the contest hitting 2-for-3 for KMS, while Lyndsay Jorgensen and Ellen Johnson added a hit apiece.
"I was a little nervous because I knew I had to pitch well and kind of avoid their power spots," Peterson said. "They're pretty strong all through the lineup. They're a great team."
Peterson has thrown 1,928 pitches this season, pitching in 21 of 22 games.
"She's our horse," Johnson said. "She's thrown a lot of pitches and she's stayed pretty strong. We told the girls all year that we could play with KMS. And we knew if we could just get to the seventh inning and it's a one-run ball game, we've got a really good chance to win."
Lakeview did get that opportunity. Down 1-0 heading into the seventh, Peterson reached base after being hit by a pitch. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the rally attempt didn't materialize and the next three batters went down, courtesy of a strikeout, a fielder's choice and a groundout.
"I think I lost five years of my life in the seventh inning," Suter said. "But Erin did an outstanding job. Our bats have been really big for us in winning games. This time, it was our defense and our pitching."
While the Lakers were hoping to get a run or two across the plate, Johnson felt the team effort was strong.
"Defensively, when we hold a team like that, who has a lot of power and a lot of base hitters, to one run, it's awesome," he said. "We only gave up five hits. We got them swinging at some pitches and hitting them pretty much to our players. That's what you want."
In the future, Johnson said he'd like to see some of the pressure taken off the top of the lineup.
"We need to get our bottom half of the order to get on so that when the top of the order comes in, they have the potential to hit somebody around instead of just trying to get on themselves," he said. "But the girls are pretty happy with themselves. They know they played hard against a quality team."
Lakeview 000 000 0-0 1 2
KMS000 100 x-1 5 1
L-Lyndsey Peterson. KMS-Erin Haglund. WP-Haglund. LP-Peterson. 2B: KMS-Haglund. LOB: L-4; KMS-5.
In Game 1 against Dawson-Boyd, Peterson quickly established herself in the circle, striking out three of the first four Blackjack batters.
"We know that Lyndsey Peterson is a tough pitcher," D-B head coach John Nevins said. "She's had a good season."
Peterson also stepped up offensively, igniting the team with a two-run home run in the top of the third, scoring teammate Emily Streich, who drew a lead-off walk to start the inning.
"It felt good," Peterson said. "I just wanted to hit the ball."
Lakeview wasn't finished offensively either. After Abby Lee reached on a walk and Peterson earned a single, the pair moved around the bases on a passed ball. Then, Berg forced a Blackjack error in the outfield which allowed the Lakers to take a 4-0 lead.
With two outs, D-B pitcher Sadie Zaiser walked Peterson. Berg followed up with an RBI double to get a rally started. Rachel Kurtenbach continued, pounding a single through the infield which scored Berg. Lakeview grabbed a 7-0 advantage after Angela Timm hit the top of the center-field fence, earning an RBI double.
"We did a really nice job hitting the ball," Johnson said. "But we get to a certain point where we relax and kind of want to wait for them to catch up."
D-B, fresh off a comeback victory after being down 11-1 against Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley on the first day of playoffs, tried to mount an offensive attack in the bottom of the sixth when the Lakers opened the door slightly. After earning a walk, Kaitlin Johnshoy quickly stole second and reached third on a passed ball and home on an errant throw.
"We just kind of had a mental lapse defensively and Lyndsey missed some pitches and wasn't quite where she needed to be," Johnson said. "That gave them an opportunity to get back in it."
Mari Lee also drew a walk, bringing Jurgenson up to the plate, where she hammered a single. But a Blackjack rally didn't happen this time around.
"I thought we'd have a little momentum coming into this game," Nevins said. "We can load them up, so I thought we'd have a good chance."
Lakeview's infield strategy paved the way for the victory in addition to the strong pitching and defensive effort.
"We like to bunt, so they moved their right-fielder to cover first base," Nevins said. "It's a risky move because the person that bunts can also pull the ball and has some power. But it worked for them. It took that part of the game out a little bit for us."
The Lakers buckled down and took care of business in the bottom of the seventh. After two groundball outs, Peterson sat down the final batter to earn the win in the circle.
"I thought the game was really good," she said. "The team worked hard and we did good."
Jurgenson finished the game batting 2-for-3 with a double. Lee was 1-for-2 with a walk, while Kelsi Schuelke went 1-for-3. From the circle, Zaiser earned eight strikeouts while walking eight batters, hitting one with a pitch and giving up 11 hits.
Peterson recorded 11 strikeouts and gave up two walks and four hits. At the plate, Timm went 3-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a walk. Peterson was 2-for-2, was hit by a pitch and earned one walk, while Abby Lee and Kurtenbach went 2-for-4.
Lakeview will face Edgerton/SWC at 5 p.m. today, with the winner advancing to the Section 3A championship against KMS on Thursday in Marshall.
"We don't know much about (Edgerton/SWC)," Johnson said. "We saw them two years ago. Their pitcher is Abby VanDyke. She's pretty good. They do make good contact with the ball and have a couple of girls that can hit. We'll see how it goes."
Lakeview002 023 0-7 11 2
D-B000 001 0-1 4 1
L-Lyndsey Peterson. DB-Sadie Zaiser. WP-Peterson. LP-Zaiser. HR: L-Peterson. 2B: L-Angela Timm 2, Sarah Berg; DB-Nicole Jurgenson. LOB: L-10; DB-6.
While the season came to a close for the Blackjacks (12-11) after falling 6-2 against Edgerton/SWC (18-4), Nevins believed his team had a good year, especially considering the conference competition.
"The (Camden) conference is looking OK," he said. "Usually, the South dominates when we've come together. But Lakeview and KMS are as tough as anybody. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton's also in our conference, so our conference is well represented. It's good to see the North can play with the South."
Suter believes the Edgerton/SWC versus Lakeview game will be a pitchers duel.
"Whoever ends up getting a few hits in the game will win," she said. "Neither of them hit us very well, but we'll have to see how they hit each other. Both pitchers are very tough. I think it'll be low scoring unless something goes terribly wrong somewhere."
Either way, KMS will likely be ready to play. The Fighting Saints are looking for a second straight trip to the state tournament, where the team took third-place last year.