CENTRALIA (JG-TC ) -- It was not easy, but the Lake Land softball team, who lost to John A. Logan 6-2 in the first game forcing the if necessary game to be played in the double elimination Region 24 tournament. This time the Lady Lakers had no problem beating John A. Logan 19-4 and improving to 54-12.

"We had struggled all year against John A. Logan," said Lake Land coach Nic Nelson. "Logan beat Wabash Valley earlier and that stunned us. We came out in the first game and played as flat as I have ever seen us all year long. It was not just the players, it was the coaches too. I didn't do a good job of coaching."

Lake Land now awaits the seeding for the NJCAA Division I National Tournament, which is to be Sunday. The Lady Lakers head to St. George Utah sometime this weekend for the tournament which is to run from May 17-20.

In the second game Lake Land jumped out on top with a five-run first and scored all 19 runs in the first four innings as Mattoon graduate Katelyn Fisher picked up the win, improving to 17-7.

"In between games I told them there is nothing I can do to make yourself a better player. As bad as we were the first game I had never seen them play as well in the second game. I told Katelyn Fisher earlier in the morning 'you are coming in.' She threw a great game and looked really good."

Among the hitting leaders in the second game at Blue Angel Field were Samantha Valentine, who was 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and two runs batted in, while Addison Baele was 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs batted in. Kendra Gengenbacher was 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and six runs batted, while Shelbyville graduate Madison Boone was 2-for-4 with two doubles and four runs batted in. 

"We started seven freshmen," said Nelson of the team. "We had three starters back from last year and every new player has made it just as exciting to go to nationals as the first time we went. I am as pumped as I have ever been to go to nationals. It is always fun and you never get tired of it."

It is Lake Land's sixth regional championship in the last eight years and sixth trip to nationals in the last even years. 

Gengenbacher was named the Region 24 tournament Most Valuable Player, while making the all-tourney team were Valentine, Baele, Emily Ostereich and Haylee Short.

Nelson is giving the team the next two days off for exams.

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Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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