ST. JOHN | Times No. 4 Lake Central coach Jeff Sherman used the right term to describe the way balls were being hit by both his squad and Chesterton on Wednesday night: atom balls.
Or, more accurately, “at-em balls” … as in almost every ball was hit on the nose, but right at someone.
The final inning was the epitome of that sentiment. Down a run, the Indians’ hitters blasted a liner to straightaway center field for an out, had a blooper to short center field that was caught by the shortstop with her back to the infield, and the final out was a scalded liner to second base.
A Chesterton defense that had made four errors in the previous six innings made those tough plays to preserve a 5-4 Duneland Conference upset victory.
“There were a lot of balls hit hard today,” said Sherman, who was especially impressed with Trojans’ shortstop Lia Lombardini. “She’s an athlete. She pitched against us on Saturday (during the Pendleton Heights tournament) and she fielded her position well.”
In addition to the over-the-shoulder catch in the seventh, Lombardini, who bounced back from two earlier errors, also recorded the final out of the sixth when she reached out to her right to barely catch a popup. The play ended a bases-loaded threat.
“I switched Lia and (second baseman) Sarah (Richards) to positions in their comfort level,” Chesterton coach LouAnn Hopson said. “We still booted the ball around and (L.C.) still hit the ball hard. We still struck out too much (at the plate), but we had a better mental approach.”
The Trojans (3-5, 1-2) admittedly hadn’t been playing well the last 10 days, so getting a comeback win in the conference is a huge boost.
Lake Central (6-3, 2-1) had a 2-1 lead going into the top of the fourth before Chesterton scored four runs with two outs. The scoring came courtesy of back-to-back two-run doubles by Allena McElfresh and Mallory McKee.
“That was a good feeling,” McKee said. “It’s nice to finally play the way we’re supposed to play.”
McKee had two hits for the Trojans, as did Bailey Slivka.
Liz Seymour had three hits and reached base a fourth time, while Laurren Ladwig had two hits. Those two combined for half of the Indians’ 10 hits, but it was when those hits came that bothered Sherman the most.
“It was one of those games where (Chesterton) had timely hits and we didn’t,” he said.