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Fast start leads Lucas past Plymouth

By JOSH MORGRET • Updated May 14, 2019 at 9:47 PM

SHELBY — Lucas came out with a bang.

The Cubs scored four runs in the first inning and never looked back from there.

Plymouth never led, and fell, 7-2 to Lucas in a Division IV district semifinal at Shelby High School on Tuesday.

"We got off to a slow start," Plymouth coach Tracy Arnold said. "It did set the tone. We got a rally coming back after it and we were on our way up and it just seemed that tonight was not our night."

The Big Red finish the season at 18-5.

"We made mistakes when we could not make mistakes," Arnold said. "Lucas is a very good team. They took advantage of our mistakes. They kept putting runs on the board when we were struggling to get the bat back on the ball."

Lucas (18-7) pitcher Erica Westfeld walked to open the game and after a groundout, Morgan Spitler reached on an error. Alexa Faulk and Kali Nolen each recorded RBI singles to get the Cubs on the board. After Plymouth pitcher Mallory Miller registered a strikeout, Brooke Niswander ripped a two-run double down the right field line for a 4-0 edge.

"We set the tone right away," Lucas coach Jim Rader said. "We were able to capitalize on that. That really got the girls into the flow."

The Big Red came right back in the bottom half of the inning. Emily Akers and Emily Blanton each walked and both scored when Morgan Chaffins doubled. Tristen Wiley followed with a single before stealing second. Plymouth perhaps missed a scoring opportunity though, as a ball hit by Miller was caught on a sinking line drive, but Chaffins did not tag up at third.

"At that point, it was instrumental," Arnold said. "We could have had another run there. At that point, we did not get anywhere after that. I think we were anxious at the plate. We wanted to do too much in one at-bat and lost our focus."

Westfeld struck out Ariel Plank to maintain the lead after a combined 72-pitch first inning for the two pitchers.

"We never lost our poise," Rader said. "We never lost our composure. We kept doing what got us here and what has put a lot of wins on the board."

That scored remained until the third inning. Nolen reached on an error before Qynn Baker doubled. Miller nearly escaped damage, inducing a groundout and popout on the infield, but she hit No. 9 hitter Gabby Smith before Westfeld reached on Plymouth's third error to score Nolen.

Meanwhile, that was more than enough offense for Westfeld in the circle. Plymouth took a more aggressive approach at the plate, seeing just 30 pitches over four consecutive innings as Westfeld put up five full innings of no-hit ball.

"Wasn't she a gem," Rader said. "She wanted to win really, really bad. She has had a couple of close calls with Plymouth."

Baker tripled to lead off the seventh inning, scoring on a RBI single by Tori Sauder. Later, Westfeld helped her own cause with a run-scoring single to push the Lucas lead to 7-2.

Plymouth got its first and only hit after the first inning when Maycie Creveling reached on a bunt single with one out in the seventh. Kelsey Blankenship drew a nine-pitch walk, but Westfeld got a groundout and popout to end the game.

"We have watched (Westfeld)," Arnold said. "We have played her. She is a solid pitcher. She is very good and she hits her spots. We knew we were up against a very good pitcher."

The Big Red got to Westfeld during a 8-5 win In Lucas on April 10. Arnold pointed to strong defense that day and a lack of it on Tuesday as the big difference.

"Our defense was solid (the first game)," Arnold said. "The errors tonight were detrimental. You can not give a good team extra outs. It just won't come up favorable for us and it didn't."

Miller allowed seven runs on 10 hits and three walks. She struck out two and threw 127 pitches.

Lucas      401 000 2 — 7 10 2

Plymouth 200 000 0 — 2 3 4

WP: Westfeld. LP: Miller

2B: (L) Niswander, Baker; (P) Chaffins. 3B: (L) Baker

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