CENTRALIA — After waiting for two days because of weather, the Region 24 softball tournament officially started on Sunday. Even though the Lake Land softball team had to wait two days, the Lady Lakers still came out prepared against two tough region opponents. The second-seeded Lady Lakers took an early 1-0 lead against John A. Logan and went on to win 5-2.
Then in the second game of the day, Lake Land took on top-seeded Wabash Valley. The Lady Lakers went on to win 3-1 to advance to Monday's championship game at Blue Angel Field at 1 p.m.
"We were worried about Logan because we've had trouble against their left-hander," Lake Land coach Nic Nelson said. "Then Wabash and Lake Land, that's a big rivalry. The bottom of the lineup came through when we needed it."
Wabash Valley grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first before Lake Land quickly tied it up in the second on Haylee Short's home run. The next runs didn't come until the seventh inning. Kendra Gengenbacher doubled and then an error allowed Monica Menas to reach. A little later, Addison Baele singled to bring in Gengenbacher and then with Menas at third, Tegan Murphy hit fly ball to centerfield. Even though it was caught, it was deep enough to allow Menas to score for the 3-1 lead.
Emily Oestreich got the win in both games. In the first game, she gave up five hits, two runs, three walks and struck out eight. Then in the second game, she gave up five hits, one runs, walked one and struck out seven. Oestreich is 32-2 on the season.
"Winning both game is big," Nelson said. "She wasn't as sharp as she has been in the past, but she got the job done when we needed it. Gotta give credit to (pitching coach) Denny Thorneburg with how he managed her and the rest of the staff."
Lake Land's opponent will be the winner of the elimination game between John A. Logan and Wabash Valley. The tournament is double-elimination so even if Lake Land loses at 1 p.m., they still would play for the championship right after.
"Our freshmen struggled today and (the pressure) kind of got to them a bit," Nelson said. "They all know it's going to be a battle and we have to win one out of two. Wabash can be devastating. No one thinks we automatically have this one. It's a long way from being over."
Lake Land improves to 53-11 on the season.
Lake Land baseball clinches postseason berth
The Lake Land baseball team's season is guaranteed to continue into the postseason. All the Lakers needed to do was win one of three games against Frontier Community College this weekend and they completed the task right away.
On Saturday, Lake Land defeated Frontier 8-1 to clinch a spot in the Region tournament. Blake Marks got the win for Lake Land and Devon Still got the save.
Offensively, Bryan Melendez-Hernandez scored three times, Pedro Otero-Cruz drove in two runs and Felix Baez picked up two hits.
On Sunday, Lake Land completed the sweep. The Lakers beat Frontier 4-2 in the first game and then took down Frontier 2-1 in the second game.
Lake Land improves to 21-28 on the season.