ST. JOHN | It wasn't a "must win" game as "must win" games go, but it wasn't too far away.
Lake Central, arguably the region's best softball program the past three springs, had lost four of six heading into the Duneland Athletic Conference home game against Crown Point.
A 10-0 loss to Chesterton over the weekend was also tough to take.
And, of course, there was another reason to play well Tuesday afternoon.
"It's Crown Point," L.C. pitcher Lily Del Toro said. "They are a real big rival."
The junior ace allowed only two hits in Times No. 5 Lake Central's 3-0 win against No. 2 C.P. Del Toro struck out eight and did not allow a base runner into scoring position until the seventh inning.
She promptly struck out the last two Bulldogs to end the threat. Del Toro was also 3-for-3 with a RBI.
"I hate the phrase, 'Helping her own cause,'" L.C. coach Jeff Sherman said, "but she did."
"We needed this game to boost our confidence," Del Toro said. "I worked on my hitting all travel season and winter. That helped me expand as a hitter."
L.C. (5-5, 2-1) also got two big unearned runs in the fifth. An error opened the floodgates and Abbey Rauch's two-out single plated Chrissy Addison and Kayla Bishton for some key insurance runs.
"It's a conference game, which is big," Sherman said, "but it's way too early to call this a 'must win' game."
Rauch had been slumping so her hit was big for several reasons.
"I wanted to be there for my team, especially Lily, because she pitched a great game," Rauch said. "I haven't been on my A-game hitting so far so, this was nice."
Aspyn Novak led L.C. with two hits and scored a run. Bishton was also 2-for-3.
Crown Point (3-2, 2-1) got hits from Rachael Honaker and Ali Rock.
"We weren't patient. We let (Del Toro) dictate the the game," C.P. coach Ginger Britton said.