Niles falls in semifinalsPublished 5:14pm Sunday, June 3, 2012
STEVENSVILLE — It was only a matter of time before one team blinked in the Division 2 District softball semifinals Saturday morning.
That team was Niles in the bottom of the eighth inning as the two-time defending state champion Lakeshore Lancers edged the Vikings 1-0.
Having battled the Lancers tooth and nail for the first eight and a half innings, Niles was unable to keep Lakeshore from winning its third straight district championship. The Lancers defeated archrival St. Joseph 9-0 to earn the title.
Haley Thibeault singled to open the bottom half of the eighth inning and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Megan Hiler. A single by Lindsey Berndt put runners at first and third with just one out.
Niles was trying to intentionally walk Alex Forsythe, who reached out and singled to right field to drive in the winning run.
It was a pitching duel throughout as Niles’ Molly VanDeKeere and Hiler mowed down hitter after hitter. Neither pitcher allowed a hit through the first two innings.
Lakeshore picked up its first hit in the bottom of the third, while the Vikings got their first hit in the top of the fourth.
Hits continued to be a premium throughout the contest. Lakeshore added one in both the fourth and fifth innings, but couldn’t produce a run.
Niles would not have another hit the remainder of the contest as Thiebault completely shut down the Vikings’ offense, coming on in the sixth and striking out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings. She struck out two of the three hitters in the eighth to finish with eight strikeouts in three innings of work.
Niles’ best chance for a run came in the fourth inning when a diving catch of a slicing fly ball off the bat of Hannah Porterfield and a ball that came close to dropping between shortstop and center field for the third out sandwiched a double by Sarah Cramer.
“I’m proud of these girls,” Niles coach Ryan Frontczak said. “We were getting beat 8-1, 9-1 early on in the season. We’re coming back and playing pretty good ball at the end of the season. She (VanDeKeere) did a great shot. She was hitting her spots. She was keeping them off balance. I thought defensively we played one of our best games. We made every play and that’s all I can ask of them.”
Division 2 District
Niles 000 000 00 – 0 1 1
Lakeshore 000 000 01 – 1 6 0
Megan Hiler, Haley Thibeault (6, W 13-4); Molly Vandekeere (L)
2B: Sarah Cramer (N)
Lakeshore 32-4, Niles 18-23
Tags: Niles softball