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The Lakeland College softball team swept Concordia, Wis., 2-1, 3-1, to open its Northern Athletics Conference schedule with a double-header on Tuesday, Mar. 27, on Lakeland's campus.
"Getting both wins is huge in the sense that two years ago we got swept by them and last year we split with them," said head coach Chad Buchmann. "We were a little more fired up because we lost to them last year in the conference tournament. It shows a pride in being at home and not letting anybody come to our field and beat us."
After a three-inning deadlock with the Falcons at 1-1 during the first game, the Muskies (9-5, 2-0 NAC) loaded the bases at the bottom of the seventh inning. Senior catcher Katie Yeager then walked to score freshman second baseman KC Blahnik for the winning run. The squad garnered their only other run of the game in the third inning, answering a run made by the Falcons at the top of the inning, as junior third baseman Kourtney Peters singled, scoring junior shortstop Elisa Waltz.
Freshman Sara Roberts picked up the win in the first game, pitching all seven innings and only giving up three hits. Sophomore left fielder Jesse VanKamp was a perfect 2-2 at the plate, while Peters had two hits on four at-bats.
In the second game, Peters knocked in two runs on singles, scoring junior center fielder Sonja Barone for the first run of the game in the first inning, then sending Blahnik home at the top of the seventh to increase her team's lead. After the initial run, the game went without another score until the fifth inning when Blahnik blasted a triple, then scored on a single by junior right fielder Rebecca Schuettpelz. The squad also staved off a near-score by the Falcons in the fourth inning on a throw to the plate by sophomore left fielder Christina Schultz to Yeager for the tag and out.
"Sonja does well with getting on base and Chelsea Coenen also got a base hit when we needed her to," Buchmann said of his squad's offensive efforts. "KC Blahnik is also doing really well right now. She's energy and is so level-headed. Kourtney also had that awesome RBI after KC hit her triple. That's the kind of stuff you have to do and that's when you can tell you are going to be able to win some games."
Roberts kept her NAC record a perfect 2-0 from the mound, pitching five innings and tallying seven strikeouts with the aid of two innings of relief from fellow freshman pitcher Cassie Felton. Blahnik led the offensive drive with three hits on four at-bats, followed by Peters and Schuettpelz with two hits apiece.
"The top of our line-up got on and scored runs, but I'd like to be a little more consistent at the tail end of our line-up so we can really put teams away," Buchmann said. "We played awesome defensively with Sara Roberts getting a strikeout to end the second game and just pitching well overall. Cassie also came in and was able to give them a different look. Anytime you can take two freshman pitchers and compete with a team that is supposed to finish third in conference, it's encouraging."
Lakeland will look to stay undefeated in the NAC, traveling to Concordia University Chicago for a pair of conference games on Saturday, Mar. 31.
"Anytime you beat a traditionally strong program, the next game is going to tell you if your team is for real," Buchmann said. "Having the next few games away, we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
Game time is set for 12 p.m. in River Forest, Ill.