Defense and clutch hitting are keys to DL's first wins
What was a liability in the Detroit Lakes softball team's first two losses became a strength this week, as the defense stepped up big time for the Lakers in an impressive doubleheader sweep over visiting Perham Tuesday.
The Lakers made all the plays in a 9-3 first game win, with no errors, and overcame five errors in game two with a couple of huge favorable plays at the plate in a narrow 9-8 walk-off win in the nightcap.
"It's all about defense," said DL head coach Phil Kirchner. "The girls now know they can play well and learned they need to sustain their focus in all 14 innings of play."
DL was able to survive the Yellowjackets in game two after the Lakers denied Perham a run in the top of the seventh with their second play at the plate, with the score tied 8-8.
A one-out triple by Steph Miller off of senior DL pitcher Callea Butz didn't look good for the Lakers.
As the ball lofted over centerfielder Stephanie Ianiro's head, Miller tried to stretch her triple into an inside-the-ballpark homerun.
But Ianiro hit shortstop Shayna Dugger perfectly for the cutoff, and she relayed it to catcher Brin Seebold, who applied the tag on Miller -- thus keeping the score knotted at 8-8.
"(Ianiro) is a young centerfielder, but she made a great cutoff to Dugger, who made a great throw to home," Kirchner said. "Everyone did their job on that play. It was an exciting play."
With Butz being able to get out of the inning unscathed, the next young star was ready for the spotlight.
After freshman Hannah Ianiro drew a one-out walk off of Perham pitcher Ashley Silbernagel, sophomore Amanda Young -- who already nailed a two-run homer in the third inning -- railed a pitch to the left field fence, easily scoring Ianiro for the walk-off double.
"Amanda is a first-year player and I do have some pretty high expectations for her, because she does all the work needed. Every at-bat in the second game was good for her, she put the bat on the ball."
Young finished the game 2-3, with three RBIs and two runs scored.
The Lakers fell down 6-3 in a wild first inning and a half, but remained focused on hitting the ball, then scored two more in the third on Young's homer to take a 7-6 lead.
Two runs by Perham in the fifth put the visitors back on top 8-7, but Dugger's fielder's choice RBI brought in Seebold -- who doubled -- to tie the game.
The Lakers still committed five errors in the game, but were able to overcome them with some big plays, including another play at the plate in the fourth.
DL also stymied Perham in the third inning for no runs, despite Jessica Speicher leading off with a triple.
"We still booted the ball in the second game, but they didn't hang their heads and overcame them (the errors), along with some clutch hitting," Kirchner said.
Dugger went 2-4 with two RBIs, while Amalea Branden was 2-4 with two RBIs, as well.
Cady Cartmell helped carry the bottom of the order, along with Young, by going 2-2 and walking once.
The Lakers had only five hits in the opening tilt, but blew the doors off with a seven-run sixth inning.
Second baseman Donna Wicker used a two-run single to open the game up, as Seebold and Hannah Ianiro laced RBIs as well.
Perham pitcher Kristina Januszewski fell into trouble in the sixth, after pitching solidly for the first five frames.
The Yellowjacket pitcher had limited DL to two hits and three runs in the first five innings, while having just three walks.
But in the sixth, Januszewski lost control, walking four and hitting one batter. Perham also had three errors in the frame.
Miller started the game off with a one-pitch homer off of Butz, who recovered well after that by holding Perham down to five hits and three earned runs.
"Callea is our four-year starter and leader and she started to make her pitches," Kirchner said.
Wicker was 2-4 with three RBIs to lead the Lakers offensively.
The Lakers (2-2) will host their annual DL Invitational Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.