CENTRALIA -- With their backs against the wall, the Lake Land softball team won the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Region 24 Tournament title by winning three games Tuesday during a seven-hour period. Lake Land had lost Monday and could not lose again in the double elimination tournament.
The Lady Lakers, the No. 2 seeded team in the region, began the day with an 8-7 win over John A. Logan, a team that beat Lake land 11-0 Monday. They followed it with a sweep of Wabash Valley, the No. 19 team in the nation, 5-3 and 13-2 to win their eighth region 24 title in the last nine years.
Lake Land, who is to head to the National tournament Saturday (starts May 21) at St. George, Utah, also improved to 50-17 overall. In the process gave Lake Land coach Nic Nelson his 500th career victory.
The Region 24 Player of the Year was Lake Land's Frankie Izard and earning all-region 24 honors were Mattoon graduate Abe Lee, who won two of the games and earned the save in the other, Delaine Johnson, Allie Helton and Amaya Eubanks. Nelson also earned the Region 24 Coach of Year honors.
"The first time we played John Logan we came out flat," said Nelson. "We all kind of thought it would be one and done. We had a really good game. Abe Lee had a really good day. She threw 252 pitches on the day."
Lake Land has been the No. 2 seed five times and has won the regional each time under Nelson.
Against John A. Logan the Lady Lakers scored the winning run with two outs in the seventh after trailing 7-6 heading into the inning. Lake Land had eight doubles in the game and finished with 15 on the day.
Lake Land never trailed against Wabash Valley in either game. Leading 3-2 in the first game before scoring two runs in the sixth. In the second game, Lake Land scored six in the second and led 8-2 after four innings.
On the day Lee threw 15 1/3 innings and allowed 11 hits on five run with nine walks and four strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.23.
Izard was 8-for-12 with four runs, four RBIs, a double, a sacrifice and a stolen base while Allie Helton was 7-for-12 with three runs and five RBIs as well as three doubles. Amaya Eubanks was also 7-for-12 with two runs and an RBI as well as two doubles and a sacrifice.