HAMMOND | There were some high hopes in the Lake Station dugout as sophomore Caitlin Acker, known as the team’s home run hitter, came up to the plate in the sixth inning with the softball game tied.
Acker had four home runs during the season and 11 over her career. After her at-bat in the sixth, she could add another tally to both of those as she deposited the ball deep over the left-center field wall.
Acker’s solo shot, along with three ground ball outs in the top of the seventh, sealed a 3-2 win for Lake Station over Whiting on Monday in the first round of the Class 2A Bishop Noll Sectional. On Wednesday, the Eagles will play the winner of today’s Bishop Noll vs. Wheeler game.
“She tried to get me on the inside on the pitch that I had just swung and missed at, and I got around on it and it felt good,” Acker said. “It definitely felt good.”
It was Acker’s only hit of the game, and the fourth and final hit on the day for the Eagles (16-9) off of Whiting’s Mollie Lovasko.
“Caitlin is our home-run hitter,” Lake Station coach Linda Llewellyn said. “She wasn’t swinging the bat too well tonight because it looked like she was swinging for home runs, but she finally pulled it together. She got a pitch that she obviously liked and made it count.”
Whiting coach Paul Laub knew his team was in for a challenge in its first 2A sectional as Lake Station beat Whiting in both regular season matchups.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win, and that’s all you expect,” Laub said. “I thought our kids came hard. We brought in a five game winning streak. We were playing good ball, getting timely hits and we did that today.”
Lake Station got on the scoreboard first in the fourth when Alexandria Brock hit a double with runners on first and second that was bobbled by the center fielder. When the throw came to the plate to try to stop the second runner, the umpire ruled designated runner Rachel Luna safe, saying no tag was applied.
“We thought she tagged her arm, but the umpire thought otherwise and he’s the one who makes the final call,” Laub said. “We’re not going to change it. He’s a good umpire. That’s what he said happened in his eyes. That’s a key run though.”
Laub had intentionally walked Shelby Jorgensen, for whom Luna was running.
“She hit against us all year, so I walked her and that girl creamed a double,” Laub said. “Those things happen.”
The Oilers (13-15) fought back in the sixth, scoring two runs on three of their five hits off of Lake Station’s Jorgensen.
They were unable to answer Acker’s blast, leaving the tying run on third base to end the game as Jorgensen induced a ground out.
“She’s a smart pitcher,” Llewellyn said. “She got behind a little bit more tonight in the count, but she came back and pitched well when it counted.”