By Nate Thompson
HOLLAND — In a season full of dominating performances turned in by the Spring Lake softball team, the Lakers experienced one more on Saturday at Hope College’s Wolters Softball Stadium.
Teunissen, arguably one of the top pitchers in the state, struck out 14 Lakers and was a first-inning walk away from throwing a perfect game.
Her stellar effort lifted Wayland Union, the top-ranked Division 2 team in the state, to a comfortable 8-0 victory over Spring Lake in the Division 2 regional semifinals.
Spring Lake finished the season with a 28-6 record.
Wayland Union went on to win the regional championship game, as well, and will play in Tuesday’s state quarterfinals.
Spring Lake Coach Bill Core said he couldn’t fault his hitters for their lack of success against Teunissen, although they only had one ball hit out of the infield throughout the contest.
“I watched (Teunissen) strike out 17 last week,” he said. “She’s the best pitcher in the state and pitching the best she’s had in four years.
“We thought if we limited her to single-digit strikeouts, we might have a chance, but that didn’t happen. She’s been nearly unhittable these last three weeks, and obviously she was again today.”
Teunissen benefitted from having a lead for most of the game, as Wayland struck quickly against Spring Lake senior hurler RJ Morrow.
The Wildcats plated three runs in the first inning on RBI doubles from Abby Merice and Hailey Houck, and then made it 6-0 on a second-inning blast from CJ Miller that easily cleared the centerfield fence.
“Once they got that 6-0 lead, that took away any chance of small ball out,” Core said.
Morrow settled down with strong innings in the third and fourth, but gave up a two-run home run to Wayland freshman Sydney Urben in the fifth that sailed over the leftfield fence.
Wayland finished with nine hits, and Morrow, a four-year varsity performer, totaled five strikeouts.
Madelyn Nelson was the only Laker to reach base, as she drew a walk in the Lakers’ opening at-bat.
Core said this loss doesn’t diminish a season full of positives for the Lakers, which included Lakes 8 Conference and district championships and school-record tying 28 wins.
“I said to them at our banquet, we raised our program level, we were one of the best teams in the area, dominated the conference and dominated at districts,” Core said.
“But to go to that next level, the state level, we’re not there yet. And with three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior being our top players, they needed to see and feel that we need to continue to work hard to get there.”