CAPE ELIZABETH—Lake Region surged ahead of the Capers – Julia Murch, Jordan Weese and Savannah Silke all scored – in the top of the seventh on Friday afternoon, April 12. The Lakers, though, couldn’t hold onto that momentum and stumbled come the bottom of the ninth, when Dana Schwartz crossed the plate for Cape to secure a W for the home team, 7-6.

“Being our first time outdoors and against ‘live’ pitching, we struggled offensively putting the ball in play over the first three innings, striking out seven times – six were swinging,” Lake Region head coach Wayne Rivet said.

“We were late on our swings, [though] I thought the girls were aggressive and were swinging at good pitches,” Rivet said. “We stressed to the girls before the game that we needed to make the routine plays and we had to stay away from issuing walks. Both seemed to hurt us all day.”

Haley Fernald started on the mound for Lake Region – and started hot, striking out the first three batters she faced, all of them swinging. Cape tallied two runs off Fernald in the second, however, and another in the third.

“Haley walked the lead-off hitter on a 3-2 count in the second,” Rivet said. “We then mishandled a bunt – it wasn’t a difficult play – and then Haley gave up a triple, leaving an 0-2 pitch over the plate to score two runs.”

“But I was very proud of our kids all day, with their ability to shrug off adversity and make the next play,” Rivet continued. “In this inning, Haley came back to strike out two and induce an infield fly to leave a runner at third. One of our problems a year ago was players’ inability to turn the page. [We’d] make mistake after mistake, resulting in big innings for our opponents. This didn’t happen Friday, which is a very encouraging sign.”

Murch got one back for the Lakers in the top of the fourth. Murch reached base on a successful bunt, then advanced to second on a passed ball during Weese’s at-bat. Weese’s own bunt proved successful as well – she barely beat the throw to first, but she beat it – and ushered Murch over to third. Murch raced home on another passed ball, this one during Delaney Meserve’s turn at the plate.

“Our small ball game was very effective,” Rivet said. “Several of our speed players did a great job putting the ball in play in spots that the Cape defense had a hard time handling. Our lead-off, Julia, was outstanding, going 4-for-5. She nearly beat out her first-inning slap.”

“I was impressed with our girls’ ability to execute, even when the Cape defense was anticipating bunts or slaps,” Rivet went on. “We’ve worked hard at developing the small ball game in preseason. I feel this is the most athletic team I’ve had in my five years here at Lake Region.”

Abigail Scifres scored the Capers’ fourth in their next ups, regaining them a three-run advantage; Cape then held their guests silent in the top of the fifth before adding yet another, and thus expanding their lead, in the bottom of the same inning.

Lake Region chipped away at the Capers’ upper-hand in the sixth, hashing two: Maddie Rock and Brooke Harriman both scored for the Lakers. Rock, Harriman and Fernald captain the team this spring; all three are seniors, and all three hit over .300 last year.

Still, LRHS couldn’t explode when they needed to. As Rivet said: “What we were missing all day was ‘the big hit’ from the heart of our order. They came up a couple of times with the bases loaded or runners in scoring position, but were shut down by Cape’s pitcher, Anna Cornell. Give her credit, she made big pitches when she needed to and kept us off the board.”

The Lakers did dig deep in the top of the seventh, when they dashed out front 6-5. Silke scored the first of the team’s trio of tallies in the stretch, with Murch and Weese following her up. Delaney Meserve laid down a bunt with two strikes – a moment Rivet called “a big play” – to allow Lake Region to seize control.

But the comeback wouldn’t grow into a victory: Cape rebounded in the bottom of the seventh, with Cornell tying things up 6-6. Then, two full innings later, the Capers earned a walk-off win, Schwartz coming home on a Scfires single.

“Despite the loss, our girls never quit and were up to every challenge,” Rivet said. “A couple of plays or hits here or there and the final score would have certainly been different. Defensively, freshman Sadie Tirrell made a couple of big plays in right field, snagging a hard line-drive for an out, and also making a big catch of an errant throw while backing up first base. Pretty good stuff from a freshman who hadn’t played the outfield before.”

So Lake Region opens on a loss – but not one to hang their heads over.

“I was very proud of our effort, and know that this team will get better as the season rolls along,” Rivet said, “especially once we get a chance to get on a field to practice – I saw green for the first time today when I drove past the field, so there’s hope!”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Savannah Silke reels in a grounder for the Lakers.

Senior Captain Haley Fernald hurls a ball toward home from the circle.

LRHS pitcher Haley Fernald fires a shallow trickler over to first.

Hailey Gove unwinds through a swing.

Delaney Meserve tracks the action from her position playing second base.

Julia Murch held down first for the Lakers.

Jordan Weese mans third base for the Lady Lakers.

Sadie Tirrell takes a cut at the plate.

Julia Murch leads off third late in the game for LRHS.

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