Spartans play “Lake ball” in win over Tech

GEORGETOWN – Sussex Tech ended Lake Forest’s softball season last spring, defeating the Lady Spartans, 4-1, in the DIAA state tournament semi-finals. It was the second Tech victory over Lake Forest during the 2016 season.

Monday, April 10, Lake traveled to Georgetown seeking revenge for the three-run state tournament loss 10 months prior, and the Lady Spartans’ quest proved successful.

A 13-10 Lake Forest road victory provided the squad with a boost of confidence, and handed the Lady Ravens its first loss of the 2017 season.

Lake made a statement by putting up 13 runs against a Tech team that hadn’t surrendered any more than four runs in any given game this season.

Junior Kayla Thompson rounds third base while high-fiving head coach Ashlie Tatman after crushing a two-run home run to left-center field (The Journal/Ben Heck).

“We came out really wanting this win,” head coach Ashlie Tatman said. “They beat us twice last year, the second time they beat us they put us out in our run for a championship. So we really wanted this game bad, and we really wanted to make a statement today. We just dug deep and played Lake ball.”

Lake brought their bats with them to Sussex Technical High School, collecting 14 hits and launching three home runs over the left-center field wall. Twelve runs in the first three innings broke the game wide open for the Spartans, and made it difficult for Tech to recover.

A two-run single to centerfield by junior Kayla Thompson helped Lake get out in front 2-0 in the top of the first inning, but Tech came back and put up four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.

Despite surrendering four runs in the first inning, junior starting pitcher Kaitlyn Stahre bounced back and allowed just one Tech run over the next three innings of play.

“They’re a very good team,” Stahre said. “Coming back from that first inning, I knew I had to hone down, get myself together and use my defense a little bit more. I thought if I let them put the ball in play and use my defense a little more, it would allow us to make some plays.”

A pair of two-run home runs from Thompson and junior Brooke Glanden propelled the Spartans to a six-run second inning.

A lead-off triple from senior centerfielder Mya Maddox in the top of the third inning set up another big offensive inning for Lake.

Stahre drove in Maddox with a base hit, and Glanden went on to reach base on an infield single. This set-up senior first baseman Kerrigan Simpson, who drove a pitch over the left-center field wall for a three-run home run.

“We work hard in practice and we knew it was going to be a good game, but we came out here and we played Lake ball,” Simpson said. “That’s what our coach preaches to us. Play Lake ball every pitch, every play.”

Junior Kaitlyn Stahre pitched all seven innings, striking out four Tech batters, in Lake’s 13-10 victory Monday afternoon (The Journal/Ben Heck).

Lake ball, essentially, is defined as working together and doing everything as a team. Communicating with each other every pitch and every play, and staying engaged and supportive from the dugout.

With the entire lineup contributing, Lake Forest certainly played Lake ball in the victory.

“When everyone hits, I think it’s contagious,” Simpson said. “So when Mya gets on, the next person thinks they can get on and it just keeps going down the line. When we hit, we’re on.”

Against a team of Tech’s caliber, a 12-5 lead is never safe.

The Lady Ravens’ offense produced three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, and scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh before Stahre finally finished off Tech’s late rally attempt.

“That was a really good feeling today, having all the girls supporting each other and all the girls wanting to battle back,” coach Tatman said. “It’s huge, but we need to maintain a winning streak at this point. That Red Lion game really humbled us, so I feel that this win is hopefully just the beginning.”

“I think it does a lot for our confidence,” Simpson said. “We’re just going to keep working hard in practice and going out and playing Lake ball.”

A win over a previously-undefeated Tech team is satisfying, but the Lady Spartans will have another tough task ahead of them when they play host to the Delmar Wildcats (6-1) Wednesday, April 12 at 4:15 p.m.

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

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