ORLEANS–In their final regular season tune-up, the Lady Rangers dropped a tough one to the Richford Rockets 15-3.
"We spanked every ball we hit, but gave up seven unearned runs in two innings,” said coach Matt Tinker. "We get behind by five or six runs and the girls start to push too hard and instead of getting anything we get nothing."
After a 1-2-3 top of the first, Lake Region jumped out to 1-0 lead as Kayla Royer singled and came around to score the game's first run.
The Rockets responded by putting a four-spot on the board in the second, adding another three in the third (those would be the seven runs Tinker mentioned), took the fourth and the fifth innings off, and then added another eight runs over the final two innings to seal the deal.
Lake Region scored two more runs in seventh, but by then it was too late.
Thursday was also senior day for the Rangers, and they honored the class of 2012 with a pre-game ceremony.
After the game, and while still upset at the loss, team captains Steph Merchant and Callie Cashin talked about their time with the program.
"I loved having a good time playing with theses girls and it was nice being a part of coach Tinker's team," said Merchant.
Cashin spoke of one moment this season that really stuck out in her mind, as well as a goal she has been working towards her entire career.
"Earlier this year in Danville I did a face first 'pro' dive to get the out, and I have been busting it hard to get my steals in and go for the school record."
She is just a few steals shy of said record, but climbing that ladder this season has not been easy.
Cashin’s been playing with a shoulder injury that will require post-graduation surgery, but she has not let that effect her play on the diamond.
"The busted wing has forced me to throw side-arm, therefore my elbow has been going out, but I have worked with it."
Said Tinker of his seniors, "All four of them have been here for four years, and you can not help but become attached to them.
"They all have their own unique personalities; Callie lays it all out there. She hasn't had a good arm since her sophomore year and yet she had five outfield assists this season.
"Steph really stepped it up this year, making the dirty plays, and along with Callie, as captains, the two of them really encouraged the younger players, whether it was in a game or in practice, they were there helping out.
"Chelsea is a ball player. You have to kick her off the field in order to get her off of it. She is a flat-out ball player.
"Tiff has improved her game in her four years playing here. She has an infectious personality that is really good in the dugout.”
Now it is on to the play-offs for the 5-11 14th seed Rangers, and for Tinker, who encourages competition between local teams, it is a mixed blessing.
The good news; They open the play-offs against a nearby-by opponent.
The bad news; It is against 13-3 Lyndon Institute.
The biggest hurdle the Rangers must overcome in order to find success in the post-season will be themselves as errors have cost the team multiple wins throughout the 2012 campaign.
But Cashin is positive they can regroup and put together a complete effort.
"We have yet to play a full seven inning game, but I think we still have it in us," she stated matter-of-factly.
It is now in the players hands as game one in the quest for the gold starts Wednesday in Lyndon at 4:30.