Bulldog bats ring in playoffs

Published 1:21 am Friday, July 4, 2008

The Lake Mills softball team continued to plug away and work on its hitting throughout its recent downturn and everything came together Thursday night when the offense poured on six runs and seven hits in a 6-3 win over West Hancock in the first round of Class 2A Region 4 playoffs.

The Bulldogs (24-8) got the scoring started in the third inning when left fielder Holly Buffington reached on single and center fielder Sammy Nelson followed to give Lake Mills runners on first and second with no outs. Both runners crossed the plate when right fielder Sabrina Roll doubled.

Buffington brought another run in during the fourth inning on an RBI single that gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.

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“We finally focused in on what we were doing,” Lake Mills head coach Stacie Gaskill said. “The girls have been working hard on my style of hitting and the girls are finally starting to put it together.”

It seemed like smooth sailing for Lake Mills as starter Josie Brackey had a no-hitter going through five innings but then in the sixth the Eagles strung together a pair of basehits and took advantage of fielding mistakes by the Bulldogs to cut the lead to 4-3.

Brackey worked herself out of a bases loaded jam with no outs with a goundout, a sacrifice fly and a strikeout to end the inning. Nelson gave Brackey a big lift with a catch in center field and threw a dart to catcher Whitney Thompson to prevent the runner at third from tagging and scoring.

“We always have that inning where we just don’t play very well,” shortstop Cassie Christianson said. “We’re trying to eliminate that.”

The inning could have proved disastrous but Gaskill decided to make a trip to the mound to calm her infielders down after making two errors and leaving runners in scoring position.

“I noticed the dugout was excited, their fans were excited and they had runners in scoring position on second and third,” Gaskill said. “I was like ‘I need to kill their mood a little bit. That’s what I did. I went out there grabbed my girls together and we’ve been put in the situation where we’ve had runners put on third and when the girls have to check three and go one we’ve always come out positive in that situation.”

Lake Mills turned misfortune into fortune in the bottom half of the inning when they added two more important insurance runs to ice the game.

“We always joke about how we like the dramatic effect,” Roll said. “We just get our adrenaline going and know that we can’t lose.”

The Bulldogs move on to the second round to face Garner-Hayfield, who knocked off previously No. 14-ranked Belmond-Klemme, Saturday at 7 p.m. in Belmond.

Lake Mills 6, West Hancock 3

West Hancock – 000 003 0 – 3 1 2

Lake Mills – 002 202 x – 6 7 4

WP – Josie Brackey 7 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K

LP – Becca Smidt 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K