In three previous IHSAA state tourney games, opponents found Lakeland pitcher Ashlynn Grubb very tough to hit and impossible to score on.
Tuesday night in LaGrange, however, the Lady Laker ace ran up against a foe with a 29-1 record and the bats to back that mark up.
Launching rockets in between, over and even through the Lakeland outfielders, the No. 2-ranked Woodlan Warriors dispatched the host Lady Lakers, 6-1 in 3A regional play. The Lady Warriors, now riding a 14-game winning streak, will carry a 30-1 record into the 3A semi-state this Saturday at Twin Lakes against semifinal foe South Bend St. Joseph’s (17-11).
“They are an aggressive team at the plate and hit the ball very hard,” said Lakeland coach Sherry Severson of Woodlan. “Their 1-5 batters are wicked.”
Two of those Lady Warriors at the top of the order – second baseman Haley Hostetler and center fielder Madelynne Hostetler – produced the first two runs of the game. In the first, Haley singled with one out and then scored on a triple by Madelynne.
In the third, Madelynne singled home Haley, who had doubled in front of her. The Lady Warriors could have done even more damage had not Lakeland shortstop Morgan Meyers made a diving snag of a line drive off the bat of Logan Smead for the second out of the frame.
Meanwhile, the Lady Laker batters were having little luck against Woodlan hurler Hannah Robbins, who came into the contest having shutout her last 12 opponents. Lakeland put two runners on in the third with one out, only to have Robbins strikeout the next two hitters.
Grubb finally got the first Lady Laker safety to lead off the fourth. But two unsuccessful bunt attempts, the last of which resulted in a double play, quickly ended that threat.
Woodlan then broke the game open with three huge runs in the top of the fifth. Lauren Ehle tripled to start the frame and scored when Haley Hostetler’s fly ball to left popped out of Abby Bustos’ glove. A double by Madelynne Hostetler and a single by Smead brought in the other two markers.
Another Lady Laker error in the seventh-- the fourth of the contest – led to Woodlan’s final run. “You have to be able to make defensive plays with runners on in the tournament,” said Severson. “We didn’t do that tonight.”
The lone bright spot of the evening for Lakeland came in the bottom of the seventh when Grubb launched a solo home run over the center-field fence. “That’s the first homer Ashlynn’s ever hit in a game and it couldn’t have happened to a more dedicated player,” Severson stated.
Tuesday’s regional setback capped the Lady Laker season with a 20-13 record and ended the prep careers of seniors Holly Eaton, Lexie Myers, Lauren McKibben, Hailee McCann, Hannah Myers and Carolyn Hershberger. “What a great group of kids to work with,” Severson said of her upperclassmen. “They will leave some big shoes to fill.”