Lake Mills runs over Eagles

Published 9:01 am Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Lake Mills softball team played a game it needed to win Wednesday against West Hancock.

It needed to beat the Eagles to make up for an earlier loss to them, they needed to beat them because they play them in the first round of the playoffs and they needed to keep pace with the conference leader Belmond-Klemme.

The Bulldogs (17-5 overall, 7-2 NIC) accomplished all of those tasks with a 4-2 win over West Hancock at home.

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“Lately we haven’t been hitting the ball as well,” Lake Mills head coach Stacie Gaskill said. “We’ve been putting it in play, but we haven’t been able to find the holes.”

The Bulldogs went about their business by putting pressure on the West Hancock defense by being aggressive on the base paths to make up for their recent lack of success at the plate.

“We’re just forcing West Hancock to make mistakes and we took advantage of them,” Gaskill said. “It’s always nice when we can get runners on because we have the ability to put the ball in play and move runners around.”

Leadoff hitter Sammy Nelson embodied that idea by reaching on an error in the first inning, stealing second and scored when the Eagles walked Holly Buffington with the bases loaded. Nelson reached on an error in the second inning and later came around to score on a throwing error to give Lake Mills a quick 2-0 lead.

West Hancock wasn’t ready to lay down for the Bulldogs and responded with two runs in the fourth inning to tie the game. The Eagles’ Paige May reached on a single and scored on a double by Jess Kraft. The next batter, Jayne Nielsen replaced Kraft at second with a run scoring double of her own.

“They just got some earned hits and some earned runs,” Nelson said. “It happens.”

With that Lake Mills went back to work in the bottom of the fourth, doing what it does best, taking advantage of mistakes.

Cassie Christianson singled and advanced to third on two passed balls and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Josie Brackey to take the lead again. The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the fifth when Whitney Thompson walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an error for the 4-2 ending.

“When we get under pressure we just say ‘OK, let’s see how many runs we can get this inning,’“ Nelson said. “Then usually we pull off a couple of runs.”

Josie Brackey not only drove in the winning run, but kept the West Hancock bats quiet as she threw seven strong innings, surrendering two runs on five hits while striking out seven and not allowing a walk to pick up the win.

Lake Mills picked up a comeback win against Rockford the night before with a three run fifth inning.

The Bulldogs led 1-0 after the first inning and saw Rockford grab the lead with two runs in the third, but Lake Mills didn’t panic and regained the lead in the fifth.

Brackey reached on a single and courtesy runner Becky Peters scored on a single by Sabrina Roll to tie the game. After Jordynn Brackey singled and Nelson reached base, Thompson drove both runners in with a single to win the game.

Lake Mills 4, West Hancock 2

West Hancock – 000 200 0 – 2 5 3

Lake Mills – 110 110 x – 4 4 1

WP – Josie Brackey 7 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K