Late rally falls short, Niles softball ousted by Lakeshore 2-1 in district final

Published 1:06 pm Sunday, June 5, 2022

BERRIEN SPRINGS — With the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, Niles had Lakeshore on the ropes.

Then, with one swing of the bat, the Vikings’ season was over.

After defeating Dowagiac in the pre-district Tuesday and Edwardsburg earlier in the day, Niles softball fell 2-1 to the powerhouse Lancers in the Division 2 district championship game at Berrien Springs Saturday.

“Nobody ever expected us to be here,” said Niles Coach Dale Myer, whose team has lost to Lakeshore at districts in three of his five seasons. “[Lakeshore] is kind of our nemesis right now.”

The Vikings were down 2-0 and entering the final inning, and loaded the bases with one out, but ultimately could not extend the game despite out-hitting the seven-time state champion Lancers 9-6 in the game.

“We put the ball in play, but they made some plays,” Myer said. “We put some pressure on them. They withstood it. Hats off to Lakeshore. Up and down the lineup, they battle each and every time. They’re coached great, and they’re just one heck of a team.”

Senior Mya Syson pitched every inning for the Vikings on the day, striking out 11 batters. She also had the game-winning hit against Edwardsburg. Haylea Wilken had five hits, a home run and three RBI on the day. Annabelle Johnson also had five hits total on Saturday.

“Mya pitched two great games today,” said Myer, adding all of the seniors kept the team together all year. “In the middle of our season, we were struggling to hold it together and we got back on track, and it was all because of them. We wouldn’t be here without our seniors, that’s for sure.”

In the first game of the day, the Vikings defeated Edwardsburg 6-5 to avenge their early-season losses to the of 7-0 and 17-6 to the Eddies (27-10). On May 17, Niles fell to Lakeshore 14-1 and 8-1.

Lakeshore coach Denny Dock was complimentary to Myer and the Vikings after his team got done celebrating their fifth straight district title.

“Dale does a great job, and his kids were ready,” Dock said. “That pitcher, four years ago she pitched a whale of a ball game against us in the district and we won by one, so we knew she could put a really low number on us, and she did.”

Ava Mullen earned the win for Lakeshore, with Avery Arwood coming in to close the game. Olivia DenDooven hit a home run for the Lancers, who move on to face Otsego in the regional round.