Lake survives first-round scare, defeats Charter of Wilmington 3-2 to advance

FELTON – The Lady Spartans softball program shook off the playoff jitters and went on to squeak out a 3-2 first-round victory over Charter of Wilmington Tuesday night.

“We came out here and I felt like we were playing a little tight,” Lake head coach Ashlie Tatman said following the win. “We were not playing loose like we normally did in the regular season and we were having a hard time even breathing in the first inning.”

As the No. 2 seed in the 2017 DIAA state tournament, Lake Forest played host to the No. 15 Charter of Wilmington.

In the top half of the first inning, Charter took advantage of a couple of fielding gaffes. A dropped pop-up in left field scored a pair of Charter runs.

Down 2-0, Lake hitters went down in order in the bottom of the inning.

(L to R) Catcher Faith Garey, pitcher Kaitlyn Stahre, third baseman Brooke Glanden and shortstop Brittany Baker talk in the pitcher’s circle during Lake’s 3-2 playoff win (The Journal/Ben Heck).

Despite the slow start, Lake cut the lead in half with a Faith Garey RBI single to centerfield in the bottom of the second inning, scoring Kayla Thompson from second base. The following inning, Brooke Glanden drove in Mya Maddox on another single to centerfield.

Charter starting pitcher Payton Czerwinski kept the Lady Spartans’ hitters off balance with off-speed pitches, and prevented Lake from piling up runs like they had been doing all season.

Lake senior Kerrigan Simpson was waiting for her to make a mistake, and when Czerwinski finally made one in the bottom of the sixth inning she was ready for it.

In a 2-2 deadlock, Simpson drilled a Czerwinski pitch over the outfield wall for a go-ahead solo home run.

It proved to be the difference-maker.

“She had a good change-up, and she had a good curve ball,” Simpson said of Czerwinski. “Her spins were definitely working today and I give a lot of credit to her. But we’re just offensively sound right now.”

Starting pitcher Kaitlyn Stahre – who pitched a complete game to earn the victory – kept Charter off the board through the final six innings. She finished the game with eight strikeouts.

“My approach coming into the game was just to go into every play and every pitch that I threw with concentration and to use my spins and defense to get through the game,” Stahre said.

The victory sets Lake up with a quarterfinal match-up against Indian River Thursday, May 25.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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