However, even a two-hour traffic delay couldn't stop the two rivals from playing out their scheduled doubleheader at Wanrooy Field at Spring Lake High School on Friday in a spirited and entertaining affair.
The undefeated and No. 2-ranked Lakers would prove their worth, inching past the Buccaneers in the opener for a 2-0 win and coming alive at the plate in the nightcap for an 11-1 win in five innings.
Images from Friday’s doubleheader
"For Leah Vaughan and our defense to go out there and only give up one run through two games against an O-K Red team that I've seen put up some pretty gaudy numbers this season was phenomenal," said Spring Lake head coach Bill Core. "Pitching and defense are the two staples that help you make a tournament run, and I thought we had both going tonight."
GAME 1: Spring Lake 2, Grand Haven 0
The opener saw the Grand Haven batters show patience at the plate, loading the bases on a single and two walks in the first inning, only to have Spring Lake starting pitcher Leah Vaughan mow down three batters to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the first, senior second baseman Linsey Paggeot would record an RBI single that scored teammate Madelyn Nelson from third to get the Lakers on the board. Nelson would add the Lakers' second run of the game on an RBI double that scored Lauren Hellman in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Vaughan picked up the win from the mound, going all seven innings and strike out nine.
"That first game was a battle," added Core. "Leah (Vaughan) uncharacteristically had six or seven walks in that one, but she worked through it and got out of trouble. She really gutted it out, and we played some good defense behind her, too. She probably didn't have her best stuff out there, but she managed to shutout a Division 1, O-K Red opponent that has some pretty good hitters in their lineup, so I think that was a nice win for her.
"What I liked about the first game was that it felt like a playoff game. That is what we are going to see in the districts and regionals, so we needed to work through some of those situations. It seemed like we left a lot of runners on second and third base, but that's how it goes sometimes."
GAME 2: Spring Lake 11, Grand Haven 1
The nightcap would begin with the Buccaneers taking an early lead on an RBI double by Kaelyn Stafford that scored Ashlyn Hall in the top of the first inning.
However, Vaughan would again settle in after that and keep the Buccaneers off the scoreboard from that point on.
At the plate, Spring Lake got things started with an inside-the-park home run by Lauren Hellman in the bottom of the first, which turned into a five-run inning thanks to RBIs by Vaughan and Molly Poole.
The Laker offense would explode again in the bottom of the fifth inning, highlighted by a base-clearing, three-run double by Vaughan in the fifth inning and RBIs by Hellman, Poole and Somers.
"Spring Lake played great today," said Grand Haven head coach John Hall. "They are just so solid in all phases of the game. They pitch well, they hit well, they run the bases well, and they just executed.
"We still have moments where we let the ball go through on a routine play, and Spring Lake didn't do that today. The first game, we played tough, but we just didn't play our style. We are normally an aggressive team at the plate, and today, we were anything but.
"This is the first time that they've taken the trophy from us in four years, so we kept it away from them as long as we could. They earned it today though, so my hat is off to them. They are talented, well-coached and motivated."
Spring Lake finishes the regular season 35-0 overall and prepares for a district-opening clash with Coopersville on Tuesday at Fruitport High School. The Lakers will host the Broncos in the district opener at 4 p.m.
The Lakers celebrated their five seniors Friday night before the doubleheader as Madelyn Nelson, Lauren Somers, Linsey Paggeot, Lauren Hellman and Kileah Rymal were acknowledged for their 130-17 career record as varsity teammates.
"We'll let the kids enjoy the undefeated regular season, and they should. This is a special feat that they were able to accomplish this spring," added Core. "But, we're going to refocus on Monday night and get ready for Coopersville on Tuesday. Sarah (Bulthuis) and I have been around long enough to tell stories of teams we've had where we beat Fruitport four times in a season and then they beat us in the districts.
"This group of seniors has been special. "Those are some pretty great kids that have done some great things for this program. 130-17 record, four conference championships, three district championships and a regional title is an impressive list of accomplishments, and I know they want to keep building on that this postseason."
Core was also humbled by the community's response to him reaching his 600th career win at Spring Lake last Tuesday.
"It's very humbling to be a part of this," he said. "There have been a lot of great people who have been involved in those wins, and I couldn't have done it without them. I got a lot of emails and texts after they saw that I got to 600 wins, which is really touching.
"From the coaching staff, parents, youth programs and the players, it's been a tremendous run here at Spring Lake, and I was honored to have so many people congratulate me for that accomplishment."
Grand Haven will play its final regular season game on Wednesday in a non-conference game with Fruitport, and then prepare for the district tournament next Saturday at Mona Shores High School. The Buccaneers will play the winner of Reeths-Puffer and Holland at noon in the Division 1 district semifinals.
"We are at a fork in the road," admitted Hall after the doubleheader. "We have to look in the mirror and figure out if we are the same team that nearly beat Caledonia twice and beat Rockford at home or the team that just got dimed by Spring Lake. We know what we are capable of and we'll work on that over the next week and get ready for the postseason.
"The softball season is a grind, but I think we have what it takes to put together a playoff run. We just have to stay strong mentally and keep swinging the bat."