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Deep playoff run highlights Laker softball 2008 season

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It was an unlikely run, which was aided by some right timing to play their peak performance of the 2008 season.

The Detroit Lakes softball team rambled through the Section 8-2A playoffs, all the way to the championship game as a No. 6 seed, before falling to No. 1 ranked and undefeated West Central.

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It was a team which previously won only three games for the season which banded together at the correct time -- the playoffs.

The Lakers knocked off a No. 1 seed, a pair of No. 2's and a No. 3 on their way to the section title game. There were many different factors which contributed in the run, which overshadowed a progressive regular season.

"Some may say we got lucky, the competition was not very good or that we peaked at the right time," said DL head coach Phil Kirchner.

"The fact is, we became a team."

The Lakers found their offensive production, solid defense and the reliance on some top pitching.

Sophomore Callea Butz' work during the offseason showed through with her 2.11 ERA and her impressive 165-to-89 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Butz also registered a no-hitter late in the season and carried the team through the playoffs, pitching strikes and allowing her defense to make the plays.

At times through the regular season, defense was a liability, but the unit was able to improve and play its best when it counted.

Senior catcher Brittni Larson earned the team's Gold Glove award for her .979 fielding percentage, while senior Jennifer Wenner had a .962 percentage in the outfield.

First baseman Kylee Johnson also earned a Gold Glove with her .954 percentage at first base.

Although the offense wasn't as consistent as it could have been, the bats started coming alive later in the season, especially in the playoffs.

The Lakers combined for 42 hits in three games during the double elimination portion of the playoffs, which helped propel them into the championship game.

Senior shortstop Alice Branden was consistent, hitting for a .500 average after going 34-68 at the plate. She also was second in RBIs with 12 and runs with 20.

Senior center fielder Janaye Johnson led the squad in RBI production with 16, while batting a third-team high .396, with 12 runs scored.

Wenner also had a reliable bat, hitting for a .459 average for 11 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

The Lakers had three players on the All-Section 8-2A team in Butz, senior Molly Braun (who improved her batting average by over .100 and finished with a .337 average) and Branden.

Wenner and Branden also were named Mid-State All-Conference. Wenner batted a .531 average in conference play, while Branden finished with a mark of .619.

Butz was honorably mentioned in All-Conference. DL finished 6-6 in the Mid-State.

For the upcoming 2009 season, DL will have both of its pitchers back in Butz and Cady Cartmell (5.32 ERA), while having plenty of holes to fill from the departing seniors.

Seniors included Branden, Johnson, Jessica Pudwill, Jessica Anderson, Braun, Kylee Johnson, Larson, Wenner and Dana Dugger. The 2009 captains will be Sarah Wilson, Ashley Baer and Butz.

Laker season stats

2008 season stats -- Record: 15-12.

Batting stats (avg-hits-runs-RBIs): Alice Branden .500-34-20-12; Jennifer Wenner .459-34-16-11; Janaye Johnson .396-21-12-16; Molly Braun .337-28-24-8; Amalei Branden .333-7-5-3; Brittni Larson .302-26-7-8; Dana Dugger .290-20-9-6; Jessica Anderson .268-11-5-5; Jessica Pudwill .250-15-14-5; Sarah Wilson .230-14-5-7; Shayna Dugger .208-5-9-4; Kylee Johnson .197-14-11-4; Ashley Baer .200-1-2-0; Jalen Even .154-2-2-1; Callea Butz 1.000-1-1-0; Michelle Bakken .000-0-4-0; Cady Cartmell .000-0-0-2; Stephanie Ianairo 1.000-2-0-3; Ali Olds .000-0-1-2; Megan Savaguea .000-0-2-1; Kasey Smith .000-0-1-0. Team: .317-235-155-98.

Pitching stats (W-L-IP-ERA-K-BB): Callea Butz 11-10-136.1-2.11-165-89; Cady Cartmell 4-2-42.1-5.32-27-44; Kasey Smith 0-0-1-14-0-0.

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