SOUTH HAVEN — Lakeshore didn’t get as many hits and made more errors than coach Denny Dock would have liked in Monday’s Division 2 district softball final at South Haven.
But with big hits from Sierra Ciesielski and several key plays, the Lancers were able to beat the host Rams 3-1 for the district title.
“It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure,” Dock said. “It could have been a lot easier if we just made a few more plays. But it is what it is, and we moved out one more game. That’s all that matters.”
Weekend storms forced the district to be rescheduled to Monday. Lakeshore now plays Olivet in a regional semifinal on Saturday at noon at Edwardsburg.
Both Lakeshore (29-10) and South Haven (20-15) rallied in their respective semifinal games. Gianna Kerschbaum hit a walkoff home run in the sixth inning for a 3-2 win over Niles, and the Rams rallied for a 4-2 win over Dowagiac.
Meghan Younger scored early for the Lancers, bringing home Ciesielski on a single in the first inning. Grace Lyons tied the game, scoring off a Lakeshore throwing error in the second.
Shelby Grau boosted Lakeshore with an RBI single in the third, and Isabella Najera added a third run in the fifth. From there the Lancers relied on Najera’s pitching and the team’s defense to bring them the rest of the way through.
“We struggled on the mound in both games today,” Dock said. “But Bubba came in and did a good job (in the second). We made enough big plays (to get by). It is hard when you are constantly putting yourself in a tough situation. You are always holding your breath.”
Reneigh Sandmann had two big plays, catching a pair of line drives and turning them into double plays in the first and sixth innings.
South Haven played some of its best defense of the season. However, the Rams just could not generate anything at the plate.
“It’s ironic because the whole year we’ve scored lots of runs and our defense has let us down,” South Haven coach Wilma Wilson said. “But you have to have both sides of it in big games.
Holli Dannenberg showed some true grit for the Rams.
She collided with the Lancers’ Laney Mead in the first inning while trying to field a hit by Grau. It resulted in her chipping a tooth and with Mead being called out for interference, disrupting a potential bases loaded opportunity for Lakeshore.
After getting checked out by her coaches and trainers, Dannenberg stayed in the game. She made several popfly catches, and had a few groundouts to keep Lakeshore’s scoring chances low.
“She is a gamer,” Wilson said of Dannenberg. “She was (already) playing with a huge gash on her leg from a play she made a couple weeks ago. She is tough.”
Lakeshore 3, South Haven 1
South Haven 010 000 0 — 1 2 0
Lakeshore 101 010 x — 3 9 1
WP — Laney Mead, LP — Lexie Young.
Top hitters — South Haven: AJ Jefferies 1b, 2b; Grace Lyons 2 1b. Lakeshore: Sierra Ciesielski 2 1b, 2b; Isabella Najera 2b, RBI; Meghan Younger 2 1b, RBI; Shelby Grau 2 1b, RBI.
Records — Lakeshore 29-10, South Haven 20-15.
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