Lake Park senior Danielle Jecmen knows her role on the Lancers' softball team.
"I know I have to keep the game under control," she says. "It's my job to set the pace for my teammates and to radiate my confidence."
So when Thursday's Upstate Eight Valley game at Bartlett got a bit out of control for the Lancers, it was Jecmen who brought some order back to things for her team. Her two-out double in the top of the eighth inning scored 2 runs and provided some separation on the scoreboard, then she threw a three-pitch bottom of the eighth as the Lancers outlasted the Hawks 6-3 in a 2 hour, 17-minute marathon.
Lake Park (14-4, 6-2) appeared to be on cruise control with a commanding 3-0 lead and Jecmen in the circle entering the bottom of the seventh. But Bartlett (12-6, 6-2) battled back to tie the game, scoring its second and third run of the inning on an infield error with two outs.
The Hawks returned the favor in the top of the eighth, though, when a throwing error opened the door for all 3 of Lake Park's runs. Bartlett made an uncharacteristic 4 errors in the game.
"We came back in the end, put some pressure on (Lake Park) and got back in the game," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. "Unfortunately the error in the last inning cost us three runs. Hopefully we learn our lesson and play better."
The Lancers took a 2-0 lead in the second when Jecmen (2-for-3) led off with a single that was followed by a long home run to center field by Sam Cummings. Lake Park made it a 3-0 game in the fifth, Kelly O'Neill beating out a bunt single then scoring on a two-out single from pinch-hitter Marianna Colucci.
Meanwhile, sophomore starter Julie Baumgart held Bartlett to 2 hits through the first three innings before giving way to Jecmen after Alex Morales opened the Bartlett fourth with a single. In her first relief appearance of the season, Jecmen held the Hawks scoreless on 3 hits until the seventh.
Alyssa Nowak opened the inning with a single for Bartlett and went to third on Dana Paul's double. Nowak scored on Cara Carrion's groundout and Rachel Odolski beat out an infield single but Jecmen struck out the next Bartlett hitter and it appeared the Lancers had a 3-1 win, but Lake Park couldn't field Kayla Haberstich's routine grounder, which went to the outfield and allowed courtesy runner Lauren Janczak and Odolski to score and tie the game. Haberstich went to second on the play but Jecmen got Morales to ground out to third to send the game to extra innings.
With one out in the top of the eighth, Shannon Fritsche and Maria Zepeda beat out infield singles with one out, with Stephanie Starr replacing Zepeda at first on a fielder's choice that resulted in an error at third base on what would have been a force on Fritsche for the third out. Fritsche then scored when O'Neill legged out a slow roller that Bartlett had no play at the plate on and Jecmen followed with a double to the gap in right-center to make it a 6-3 Lake Park lead.
Jecmen (9-3) then needed just three pitches for three grounders to set Bartlett down in the bottom of the inning.
"That felt really good," Jecmen said of the double. "That got me out of a little slump I've been in."
Fritsche added 2 hits for the Lancers, who got at least 1 hit from every spot in the order and 12 for the game but left 12 runners on base.
"We squandered so many opportunities and took so many strikes with runners in scoring position," said Lake Park coach Tom Mazzie. "But I was so proud of the girls to come back and put the pressure on in the eight inning like they did. They could have packed it in."
Jessica Kirby (4-3) took the loss for the Hawks in relief of Holly Pagan. Katie Fornoff has 2 hits for Bartlett, which left runners at second and third twice.
"I don't think we had a good approach all day at the plate," said Wolfsmith. "Give Lake Park a lot of credit. Baumgart and Jecmen did a good job of changing speeds on us. We had a couple chances we didn't capitalize on early."