McLouth softball sweeps Silver Lake
Any lingering doubts about the fodder that's helped fuel McLouth High's stellar start to the 2007 softball season can now officially be put to rest.
The Bulldogs showed Monday night why they should be considered a favorite in the Class 3A state ranks come late May, traveling to perennial power Silver Lake and waltzing away with two more textbook victories.
Right-handers Lezley Lawson and Samantha Farris each tossed complete-game shutouts, while the offense proved it can play the brand of small ball that will come in handy against postseason competition as the Bulldogs secured a 5-0 victory followed by a similarly impressive 4-0 triumph.
The two wins push McLouth to 14-0 heading into Thursday's nonleague doubleheader at Lyndon.
"When we pulled up (Monday night), I showed the girls all the state championship banners hanging in their outfield," said McLouth coach Ballard Patterson. "I said, if you want to be the best program around, you have to come into a place like this and perform.
"It feels really good to go to a place like that and see everything you worked for all season come together against such a very strong team."
Last spring, Silver Lake swept the two regular-season meetings, only to see McLouth win the one matchup that ultimately meant the most -- in the Class 3A regional final that sent the Bulldogs to the state tournament in Manhattan.
It's now an official winning streak as McLouth used one-half of what's been a tried-and-true formula throughout its perfect start this spring.
Lawson and Farris each improved to 7-0, combining to strike out 23 batters and allowing just two Silver Lake baserunners to reach third base all evening.
"Our pitchers were just unbelievable again tonight," Ballard said.
Meanwhile, the offense showed a much different side than that of a unit that's repeatedly thrown big numbers on the board this season.
While senior Rachael Thompson started things off with a bang -- driving the second pitch of the night out of the park for the lone run the Bulldogs would need in the opener -- the final 13 innings saw Patterson's lineup manufacture runs with a mix of base hits, bunts, bases on balls and stolen bases.
"That's what you've got to do to win a state championship," Patterson said. "We've got to be prepared to lock it down and take care of every baserunner we get on."
Lawson finished 4-for-4 with two RBI in the opener, while Thompson was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Abby Annis also enjoyed a 2-for-3 showing.
The nightcap saw Melissa Rome, Deanna Durkes and Annis all finish 2-for-3.
All told, it was more than enough to receive a passing grade from Patterson.
"We're really trying to get ourselves to be one of the top-echelon teams in the state, and to do that we have to be able to go into a place like Silver Lake and be successful," Patterson said. "I feel like we're on our way. We certainly proved tonight that we can do that. We just have to be consistent."
McLouth 5, Silver Lake 4
McLouth 101 110 1 - 5 14 0
Silver Lake 000 000 0 - 0 3 0
W-Lezley Lawson. L-Pfannenstiel. HR: Rachael Thompson (M).
McLouth 4, Silver Lake 0
McLouth 011 011 0 - 4 11 0
Silver Lake 000 000 0 - 0 2 2
W-Samantha Farris. L-