The third time was the charm for Fairfield last Thursday night in LaGrange.
After suffering a pair of disappointing losses to Lakeland during the regular season, the Lady Falcons got their revenge by beating the Lady Lakers, 5-4 in the championship game of the 3A softball sectional. It is the first sectional title for the Fairfield program.
Freshman D.J. Martz put Fairfield up 2-0 when she slammed an Ashlynn Grubb delivery over the fence in center field. Riley Troyer, who singled in front of Martz, also scored.
The next batter, Karen Schwartz, launched a missile over the left-field barrier to give Fairfield a 3-0 cushion.
Lakeland got two of the runs back in the sixth. Grubb led off with a single and was sent to third on a double by Jill Mingus. The Lady Laker duo then came around to score when Ashton Miller lined a single to center.
But Schwartz wasn’t done. With one out and Troyer standing on second after doubling, the junior right fielder sent another Grubb pitch over the fence in left, boosting the Lady Falcons to a 5-2 advantage.
“That’s as hard as Ashlynn’s ever been hit,” said Lakeland coach Sherry Severson. “Give Fairfield credit. It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season and they proved it tonight.”
The Lady Lakers kept fighting until the end, however and made the Lady Falcons squirm before they could claim their crown. Grubb cut the margin to two when she doubled home Karissa Troyer. Mingus then singled home Grubb to shave the difference to one with two outs.
The drama increased when Miller reached base on an error. But Fairfield sophomore hurler Danica Mast buckled down and retired Paige Gust on a pop-up, setting off a raucous Lady Falcon celebration near the pitcher’s circle.
Mingus had four of the 10 Lakeland hits in the contest. Grubb had three and Gust two.
The pitching loss was the first of the season for Grubb, who ends her Lakeland career with over 1000 strikeouts and 30 shutout wins. “What else can you say about her,” said Severson of her senior ace. “She’s been a terrific leader and an inspiration to her teammates.”
Fairfield (20-8) travels to Fort Wayne Dwenger Tuesday for 3A regional play. The winner advances to the 3A semi-state at Twin Lakes this Saturday.