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Lakeland wins NECC softball tourney

 

Nearly a year ago, the Lakeland softball team ended a 14-year sectional championship drought at Fairfield with a 2-0 victory over Wawasee.

This past Monday on the same diamond in Benton, the Lady Lakers snapped an even longer title-less streak.

Behind the rocket arm and thunderous bat of senior Ashlynn Grubb, Lakeland blanked the host Lady Falcons, 2-0 in the finals of the 2013 NECC softball tournament. The win marked the first time since 1994 that coach Sherry Severson’s club had claimed the championship trophy in the league’s annual tourney.

“It’s been a long time,” said Severson of her team’s title. “We’ve made the finals a few times in these last 19 years, but were never able to get it done. I’m so happy for our kids, who have overcome a lot this spring with the bad weather we’ve been experiencing.”

Grubb was nearly unhittable in the pitcher’s circle once again. After Fairfield’s leadoff hitter Kaela Miller reached on an error (she was immediately thrown out at second base by Lady Laker right fielder Kizzie Trinh who alertly backed up the play at first), the Lakeland ace retired the next 17 Lady Falcons in order, seven by strikeouts.

“What more can you say about her?” said Severson of Grubb. “Our entire team feeds off her.”

In the top of the fourth, Grubb provided all the offensive support she would need. After Madison Campbell singled (the first hit off Fairfield pitcher Danica Mast) to start the frame, Grubb came up to the plate with one out and launched a scorching line-drive that cleared the right-field fence to put the Lady Lakers up, 2-0.

Solid defensive play, including a diving grab by Trinh of a liner off the bat of Fairfield’s Alex DeWitt to end the fourth, helped keep Grubb’s no-hit bid intact. Miller finally broke up the no-hitter in the bottom of the seventh when she grounded a single to center. But she was erased when Lakeland second sacker Paige Gust stabbed Raina Troyer’s line drive and threw to Karissa Troyer at first for a game-ending double play.

“We made a lot of good plays in the field to back Ashlynn up,” stated Severson. “And our catcher, Laken Detwiler, who never played that position before this year, has done a great job working with Ashlynn and learning her pitches.”

Jill Mingus and Morgan Meyers each had two hits to pace the Lakeland attack. Gust joined Campbell and Grubb with one hit.