Lady Leopards Blank Lake to Claim First Ever District Championship! – Softball
#2 Louisville 1, #3 Lake 0
The #2 Seed Louisville Leopards Softball Team blanked the top seeded Lake Blue Streaks 1-0 to win their first District Championship in team history Wednesday Evening at the Eagles #190 Sports Complex in Massillon. With the victory, Louisville improves to 23-4 on the season and advances to play in the DI Akron Regional Semifinals on Wednesday, May 22 at 2:00 PM. The Lady Leopards will play against the #4 Seed Chardon Hilltoppers out of the Mentor District at the University of Akron.
The Leopards wasted no time in getting on the board first. Sydney McKeever slapped a ball to the left side of the infield and used her lightning quick speed to beat out the throw to first for a single. She continued to display that speed by swiping second base on the next pitch to put herself into scoring position. At the plate, Teagan Rice worked the count full before lacing a line drive to shallow right center field. The RBI single easily scored McKeever from second to give Louisville a 1-0 advantage.
Little did the two teams know that the first batter of the game would also be the only one to score in the contest. Out of the 51 plate appearances that followed McKeever’s lead-off single, only three advanced to second base as the two pitcher’s and defense dominated the game.
Blue Streaks pitcher Jessica LeBeau allowed just a single run on 7 hits and struck out 6 in a complete game effort. For the Leopards, Sarah Cantley improved to 14-3 by throwing a 4-hit shutout and striking out 2. She was aided by superb, errorless defense behind her who made play after play to keep the Blue Streaks off the scoreboard.
No one played a bigger role in the field than McKeever who successfully fielded 8 ground ball outs from her second base position. She also tagged out a stealing baserunner in the second inning. McKeever used her speed to narrowly beat out the advancing baserunner on a fielder’s choice force out in the sixth. The call was upheld after an appeal leaving a runner on first with one out. Two pitches later, the Blue Streaks batter lined out to the pitching Cantley and she without hesitation fired a rocket to first to double up the retreating baserunner and end the inning.
In the seventh, Cantley got all three Lake batters to ground out to McKeever at second. She fielded each with poise to first baseman Alex Fankhauser who made the squeeze every time. After the final ground out, Fankhauser lifted her arms into the air in celebration. Third baseman Lauren Bennett was the first to hug Cantley, but a crowd of charging Lady Leopards soon formed into one huge embrace. Both teams celebrated their accomplishments following the game receiving individual medals and team plaques.
Louisville out-hit Lake 7-4 for the game. The Leopards Lexi Zavarelle was the only player that had multiple hits going 2-for-3 in the ninth spot of LHS’s lineup. C Lohse had the only extra base hit of the game for the Blue Streaks when she hit a 2-out double in he second inning.
Lohse was poised to score on the next pitch when S Baker hit a shallow blooper to right field. Leopards right fielder Kaylee Nolte made the play of the game by laying out for a run-saving diving catch to keep Lake off the board.
With the victory, Louisville has now downed Lake in 10 of their past 12 meetings overall. The Blue Streaks still lead the all-time series 31-20, but the Leopards hold the edge in game’s play at neutral locations 4-3. This is the fifth time the two teams have met in the postseason with Lake taking 3 of the 4 meetings previously..
This is the sixth time that the Lady Leopards have advanced to the District Final game, but the first in which they punched their ticket to regionals. Louisville is now 37-34 in postseason tournament games.
UP NEXT: The Louisville Leopards Softball Team will next play in the DI Akron Regional Semifinals on Wednesday, May 22 at 2:00 PM. They will play the #4 Seed Chardon Hilltoppers out of the Mentor District at the University of Akron’s Softball Field.
VARSITY SOFTBALL BOX SCORE
LEOPARDS 1, BLUE STREAKS 0
LOUISVILLE LEOPARDS SOFTBALL VARSITY BATTING STATS
LOUISVILLE LEOPARDS SOFTBALL VARSITY PITCHING STATS
LAKE BLUE STREAKS SOFTBALL VARSITY BATTING STATS
LAKE BLUE STREAKS SOFTBALL VARSITY PITCHING STATS
Records: Louisville 23-4