Softball: Lake Park beats Wheaton North to stay undefeated in DuKane Conference
The slow start to Lake Park's softball season took place far away and is ancient history.
Four of the Lancers' losses came in Tennessee in the team's season-opening trip when Lake Park opened the year 2-5. But on Friday at Wheaton North, Lake Park hit a pair of home runs to back Natalie Grubczak's strong pitching to win 6-2 for the team's ninth straight victory. Grubczak pitched six innings on Friday to improve to 8-4 on the year while keeping the surging Lancers unbeaten at 7-0 in the DuKane Conference.
Grubczak singled in the first to score Breanna Caper with the game's first run as the visitors took a quick 2-0 lead. Abbey Frank then hit a solo home run in the second and Grubzcak added a 2-run blast in the third as the Lancers (16-7) stayed hot.
"It took a while. I haven't pitched since before Monday so it's been a while. I tried not to get overwhelmed when I get runners on. Just stay cool.
"It's nice to have a little cushion. So if I walk someone I know my team, has got my back," said the senior pitcher, who walked six Falcons batters but made several big pitches when needed.
Grubczak also recorded several big swings when needed, even though she's getting used to a new bat. She went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and her fifth home run.
"It felt good. It's been a while," she said of the long ball that sailed over the center-field wall for a 5-0 lead. "It's been maybe two weeks. I've broken like four bats since the summer so I'm not using my own bat (with) my own weight."
Grubzcak had plenty of support at Wheaton North, including from No. 2 hitter Abby Rodriguez. The Lancers shortstop doubled and scored in the first and finished the day 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Frank, meanwhile, had a homer and a double and her shallow pop fly in the fifth scored a run even though it was ruled an out when the umpire invoked the infield fly rule.
"I was just looking to go up there and put the ball in play," Frank said of her fourth homer this spring. "I was leading off the inning so I wanted to start the inning hot and rack up some runs for the team. It just happened to go over."
Lancers coach Tom Mazzie has been pleased with the production he's been getting from everyone he puts in the lineup.
"The girls are putting good bats on it no matter who I put in the lineup. I platoon half of our positions this year and whoever is in there just steps up," he said. "We've got home runs coming from everywhere. Really, girls are hitting the ball out of the park up and down the lineup."
Wheaton North coach Zach Peterselli liked the way his team battled but noted that too many scoring chances were not cashed in.
"They kept battling," he said of his 4-14 squad that fell to 1-5 in the DuKane. "I think we left too many girls in scoring position today and that was the difference in the game. We had some opportunities. We were that one hit away from breaking it open. The girls played well and they battled with a good Lake Park team."
Ellie Hubbard, who hit 3 home runs last spring, was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. Lauren Vaughn had an RBI single in the fourth that scored Falcons pitcher Elyse Bucheit, who had walked.