LYNDON– It didn't take long for Lyndon Institute to set the tone.
After roping an inside-the-park home run in the game's first at bat, No. 3 Lyndon Institute cruised to a 15-4 victory over 14th-seeded Lake Region in high school girls softball Division II playdowns Wednesday afternoon.
The Vikings' (14-3) early dominance earned them a 9-0 lead after the first two innings, a comfortable margin for a veteran club looking to return to the state championship game after falling in that contest a year ago.
Lyndon, who moves on to host No. 6 Otter Valley this Saturday, were a shell of themselves in a matchup earlier this May in a game against the Rangers. They picked up a 6-1 victory, in a contest that saw Lake Region give up four-unearned runs.
"I was pretty fired up when we got them as our draw, because we'd seen them once already," said Lake Region manager Matt Tinker. "We knew we could hit 'em, and we knew which girls we had to work around."
It was a different story come playoff time.
Lyndon scored in every inning and out-hit Lake Region 18 to 2 through the first six.
Also unpredictable was Lyndon's work from the mound. After fanning just one batter in their previous matchup, senior hurler Becca Simpson struck out seven Rangers while earning the complete game victory.
Simpson had four of those K's through the first two innings ,and yielded only a pair of singles through the first six frames.
Meanwhile the Vikings offensive assault continued. After plating three in the first and six in the second, LI tacked on one, one, two and two runs in their final four plate appearances.
"She's not overpowering," said Tinker. "But she hit her spots and mixed her speed just enough to keep us off balance."
Lake Region proved their resiliency in the seventh inning, scoring three runs and tripling their hit total for the game all in that final inning. Senior Stephanie Merchant belted an RBI single, followed by Corrina Cota's two-out, two-RBI single. Sarah Burnham, Sabrina Roberge and Kayla Royer also singled in the inning.
"We should have been hitting her like that all game," said Tinker. "But today it just didn't matter. After those first two innings, we were shell-shocked. Every single girl spanked the ball, hard."
Lake Region finishes their season at 5 wins, 11 losses, and with questions looming on whether that same squad that was an offensive juggernaut a year ago can come back to form next spring.
“Record-wise it was disappointing," said Tinker," We just couldn't get our offense on track.
“Especially after last year when it seemed so easy to score 9 or 10 on everybody, we struggled offensively. Hitting is contagious, and we just never got that one or two hits to get the team rolling.
"To their credit, (Lyndon) is playoff tested. Every single girl on that team knows what they're supposed to be doing. That's where we want to be."