A quartet of freshmen sparked Wawasee to an 8-0 victory over Lakeland in the championship game of the 3A Fairfield softball sectional last Thursday.
Rookie hurler Amber Lemberg held the potent Lady Laker offense in check, giving up just one hit to Ashton Miller in the fourth inning. Lemberg finished the game with eight strikeouts.
“It just wasn’t out night at the plate,” said Lakeland head coach Sherry Severson, whose 27th Lady Laker squad finished 15-13. “Give Lemberg credit. She kept our hitters off-balance and the defense backed her up.”
Lakeland was playing without star third baseman Jill Mingus, whose right wrist was fractured when she was hit by a pitch the previous night in a semifinal win over NorthWood. “It would have been nice to have Jill in the lineup,” said Severson of Mingus, the Lady Laker career leader in both home runs and RBI. “I don’t know if it would have made a difference in the outcome, but you always like to go into battle with your best lineup.”
Freshman right fielder Ale Brito scored the first Wawasee run in the third. After singling with one out, Brito stole second and came around to the plate on a Lakeland throwing error.
A two-run singling the fourth by yet another Lady Warrior freshman, Meghan Fretz, widened the gap to 3-0. Wawasee then put the game away with a five-spot in the sixth inning. Freshman second baseman Maddie Wilson plated two of the markers with a single. Driving in one run each were Fretz, Brito and junior Paige Hlutke.
“Wawasee got the hits when they needed them” Severson observed. “Some of them were bloops, but they all count.”
Fretz and Brito each went 3-3 at the plate for the Lady Warriors, who will take a 20-10 record into 3A regional play Tuesday night in Syracuse against 23-6 Leo.
The loss in the finals brought to a close the careers of four Lakeland seniors (Mingus, Karissa Troyer, Laken Detwiler and Abby Bustos. The quartet racked up 75 victories during their four years, the most of any class in Lady Laker history.
“They have nothing to hang their heads about,” said Severson. “Not many people would have thought this team could win 15 games after losing a player such as Ashlynn Grubb.”