Lakers take two and will play for 1st state berth
For the third time in Detroit Lakes' history, the Laker softball team will be playing in a section championship game.
But this group of Lakers is hoping for more now -- the first state berth for a DL softball squad.
The Lakers toppled both the No. 3 Northern Freeze, 9-3 and No. 1 Thief River Falls, 13-3 in five innings Tuesday to earn the right to play No. 4 Hawley for the Section 8-2A crown Thursday.
"The girls are not satisfied," said DL head coach Phil Kirchner. "We are confident and this is big for the program, but we are not satisfied."
The No. 2 seeded Lakers (17-7) will need to defeat Hawley (15-3) twice Thursday in Frazee to earn a Class 2A state berth. The first game will start at 4 p.m.
"We know there isn't room for error against a team like Hawley, but we want to make them beat us and not beat ourselves," Kirchner added.
The Nuggets claimed an 11-1 five-inning win over the Lakers already in the playoffs last Thursday in the first game of the double elimination portion of the tournament.
Hawley used a nine-run fifth inning, which included seven hits and three Laker errors, to coast to victory.
This time around, Kirchner said the defense needs to be much tighter, if not nearly perfect.
"We need an errorless game against them," he said. "We know we need to play our 'A' game, twice. But we have a chance and this is all of the girls' hard work accumulating to this."
The Lakers looked elimination in the face twice Tuesday and never flinched, with a pair of convincing wins, led by freshman pitcher Chaz Butz, who allowed just five earned runs in the two games.
DL's defense also played well behind Butz, with only three combined errors.
"I have to give props to my young pitcher and catcher (freshman Emily Seebold)," Kirchner said. "They both controlled the games well and Chaz was hitting the corners and locating her pitches well."
The Freeze did take an early 2-0 lead after the first inning, after they put together a triple, error and two walks.
But after that, they managed just three more base runners total, with one more run in the top of the seventh.
The Lakers started churning out runs due to aggressive base running and nine walks. They had only four total hits as a team, but all were clutch.
"The girls hit the ball hard and were timely," Kirchner stated. "They were patient with the Freeze's pitcher to draw some walks."
Arika Johnson put DL on the board with an RBI double to plate Amanda Young in the second.
Three more runs were scored, which included a run-producing triple by senior second baseman Laurenn Johnson in the third, with the final touch being a five-run fifth to put DL up 9-2.
Freeze pitcher Carly Safranski fell into accuracy problems with six walks in the inning.
Laurenn Johnson was 2-3 with two RBIs to lead DL's bats.
In the second game, Thief River Falls blew a first-inning opportunity when they loaded the bases with one out, but came up with only one run.
The Lakers made them pay by posting a five-run bottom half the inning, as three straight walks and a hit batter (Jenna Lamb) led to trouble in the form of a Hannah Ianiro two-run single to put DL up 5-1.
Five more runs in the third sealed the deal, with Brooke Olson's mammoth three-run homer, the first of her career, putting the exclamation point on the win.
The Lakers had nine hits in the victory, as Kinney and Ianiro each had two. Olson finished with a career high four RBIs.
Butz once again was accurate, allowing six hits, but walking only one.
If the Lakers can beat Hawley in the 4 p.m. game, the next contest will follow immediately after.
Section 8-2A playoffs in Thief River Falls, Tuesday, May 29.
(2) Detroit Lakes vs. (3) Northern Freeze
Freeze 200 000 1 - 3 6 0
Lakers 012 150 x - 9 4 0
AB R H Bi
K. Kinney 1 1 0 1
L. Johnson 3 1 2 2
S. Larson 3 1 0 0
J. Lamb 4 0 1 1
A. Young 2 2 0 0
A. Johnson 2 1 1 0
E. Seebold 3 1 0 1
B. Olson 1 1 0 0
Butzer 1 0 0 0
H. Ianiro 1 1 0 1
Totals 21 9 4 6
3B: L. Johnson.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL - C. Butz (WP) 7-6-3-3-1-4.
(2) Detroit Lakes vs. (1) Thief River Falls.
Lakers 515 02 - 13 9 3
Prowlers 120 00 - 3 6 0
AB R H Bi
Kinney 3 3 2 1
L. Johnson 3 1 1 1
Larson 2 2 1 1
Lamb 2 2 1 1
Young 2 0 0 0
A. Johnson 1 1 0 0
Seebold 2 2 1 0
Olson 2 1 1 4
Ianiro 3 1 2 2
Totals 20 13 9 10
HR: Olson...3B: Kinney...2B: Kinney.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL - C. Butz (WP) 5-6-3-2-1-1.
(Follow Brian Wierima on Twitter at DLSportsGuy.)