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SL softball gears up for Lancers in quarterfinal

Tribune Staff • Jun 11, 2019 at 12:26 AM

You would be hard pressed to find a more successful team over the last five years than Spring Lake softball.

After playing just eight innings of ball in the regional tournament, mercying Portland and Grand Rapids South Christian, the Lakers are headed to third straight state quarterfinal appearance today at Bailey Park in Battle Creek at 3:30 p.m.

Five consecutive conference and district titles, and an overall record of 170-22 since 2015 has earned Spring Lake countless All-State awards, collegiate careers and memorable moments, but has not been enough to get them to the final tournament site.

Their back-to-back-to-back trips to the quarterfinals, from Davenport University to Hope College and Bailey Park, have yet to yield a trip to the semifinals and finals at Michigan State University. The 2017 run ended brutally in a 6-1 loss to Stevensville Lakeshore, while last year’s trip ended 5-4 at the hands of South Haven, who had just knocked off the No. 1 Lancers, denying them back-to-back regional titles.

Stevensville is back for 2019, bringing a 27-10 record into the quarterfinal. While the Lakers rolled through the regional, the Lancers had a tougher time in their regional title game, picking up a 5-2 win over Vicksburg. The semifinal was less of a challenge with a 10-2 win over Olivet.

After falling to South Haven as the No. 1-ranked team in the land, Stevensville got their revenge with a 3-1 win in the district finals, capping a tight tournament where they took a narrow 3-2 win over Niles and a 2-0 victory over Edwardsburg.

Regular-season losses were few and far between for the Lancers, dropping games to Edwardsburg, Portage Central, Crown Point, Niles, St. Joseph, Caledonia, Gull Lake, Penn and Mattawan.

Stevensville had a tough finish to the regular season, dropping three of their final five games before their low-scoring start to the postseason.

Laney Mead, Madison Cvengros and Gianna Kerschbaum all wield big bats for the Lancers, routinely sending balls over the fence. Mead and Kerschbaum also toe the rubber, along with freshman ace Anna Chellman. Any one of the pitchers can be expected to throw a win.

With just one senior on the roster, the Lancers’ run of dominance promises to continue with both of their top pitchers serving the varsity team as underclassmen.

A win over Stevensville Lakeshore would mean a trip to Michigan State University on Thursday for the Lakers, where they would face the winner of Eaton Rapids and Ida in the state semifinals. A win there and it is on to the state finals Saturday back at MSU.

First-pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. with a forecast of 76 degrees and full sun in Battle Creek.

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