STEVENSVILLE — Freshman pitcher Gianna Kerschbaum convinced veteran Lakeshore softball coach Denny Dock to give her the ball in the circle for the Division 2 district opener here Tuesday.
And, Dock is glad she did.
All Kerschbaum did was toss a three-hit shutout in the Lancers’ 2-0 victory over Edwardsburg, the Wolverine Conference champion.
She struck out 10 and walked only one.
“We had to do something. We weren’t going to walk people,” Dock said of his decision to start Kerschbaum. “She pitched great and when you pitch from ahead and the defense is on their toes and ready for the ball, you play good defense and that’s what we did. She (Kerschbaum) was hitting her spots.”
Lakeshore (27-10) advances to face Niles in a 12:30 p.m. district semifinal Saturday. Host South Haven takes on Dowagiac at 10 a.m. in the other semifinal. The district championship will follow. Lakeshore split a doubleheader with Niles this season.
“I just asked coach what can I do to get the start in the first district game, and he said hit your spots,” said Kerschbaum. “My rise ball was really working today.”
Lakeshore scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the first off tough-luck losing pticher Ashley Pion, who also allowed just three hits in her six innings of work.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Isabella “Bubba” Najera reached first on an error when the throw from short pulled the Eddies’ first baseman off the bag. Laney Mead followed with a double putting runners on second and third.
One out later, Meghan Younger delivered a clutch two-out single driving in the game’s only runs.
“That was a clutch hit by Meghan, or we still might be playing,” added Dock, who also praised the pitching of the Eddies’ Pion. “We only got one hit off her the rest of the way.”
“It all came down to timely hits and they had one in the first that plated two (runs),” said Edwardsburg coach Dean Dixon. “We just could not put it together. We had our chances with our better hitters up but just couldn’t get that big hit.”
Edwardsburg’s only real scoring opportunity came in the top of the sixth, when two infield singles and a throwing error put runners on first and third with two outs. But Kerschbaum struck out Pion to end the threat. The Eddies bow out at 28-9.
Lakeshore 2, Edwardsburg 0
Edw 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
Lakeshore 200 000 X - 2 3 1
WP - Gianna Kerschbaum complete game, 10k. LP - Ashley Pion 4k.
Top hitters - Edwardsburg: Vanessa Mayou 2 1b, Alyssa Gearhart 1b. Lakeeshore: Meghan Younger 1b, 2 RBI; Laney Mead 2b, Isabella Najera 1b.
Records - Lakeshore 27-10, Edwardsburg 28-9.