Lakeland advanced to the finals of the NECC softball tournament with a 4-2 victory over three-time defending champion Angola in the semifinals last Friday night.
The Lady Lakers scored single runs in the first, second and third innings to erase what had been a 1-0 Angola lead. Ashlynn Grubb doubled home Madison Campbell in the first inning, Morgan Myers plated Ashton Miller in the second with a double and Karissa Troyer came around on a double by Paige Gust in the third.
Angola chopped the difference to 3-2 with a run in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Maddie Kaiser. But in the bottom of the same inning, Campbell reached base and was singled home by Grubb, lifting Lakeland back to a two-run cushion.
Grubb bore down from the pitcher’s circle to get the final six outs and put a cap on a no-walk, 13-strikeout gem. Amber Neff and Kaiser did the pitching for Angola.
Fairfield defeated Eastside in the other semifinal game Friday. The Lady Falcons were to host the Lady Lakers in the finale Monday at 6 p.m.
Lakeland began its trek to the title tilt last Thursday night in Fremont with wins over the host Lady Eagles (5-1) and Churubusco (6-4).
The Lady Lakers scored all five of their runs against Fremont in the second inning. Hits by Gust, Kizzie Trinh, Abby Bustos, Troyer and Grubb fueled the outburst.
Grubb shutdown the Fremont attack, holding the Lady Eagles to just two hits while striking out 18.
In the second game, 13 stranded runners nearly proved costly to coach Sherry Severson’s squad. After building a 5-1 lead through three innings, Lakeland watched as Churubusco tallied runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames to close the gap to 6-4.
In their final at bat, the Lady Eagles placed runners on first and second with one out. Lakeland shortstop Meyers then made a diving stop of a ground ball and tossed to Jill Mingus at third to record the second out. After a walk loaded the bases, Grubb notched the last of her 10 strikeouts to end the threat and the game.
Bustos collected three hits and two runs. Grubb and Miller each had two.
Angola beat Prairie Heights, 7-2 in their quarterfinal bout Thursday.
A two-run homer by Donna Bowers capped off a five-run fourth inning for the Lady Hornets. Katie Goings, Claire Grubb and Lauren Henderson also had RBI hits.
Taryn Neff and Jordan Engel-Walworth each delivered run-scoring hits in the fifth inning for the Lady Panthers.