By Mitchell Boatman

SPRING LAKE – Spring Lake sophomore Leah Vaughan has had an exciting two days.

After pitching – and winning – both games of a softball doubleheader on Tuesday, Vaughan threw a complete-game shutout on Wednesday against a very strong opponent.

Spring Lake’s Lauren Hellman gets ready for the pitch. Photo/Leo Valdez

Spring Lake defeated Oakridge 7-0 in a battle of state-ranked teams. Vaughan baffled hitters all day, collecting 12 strikeouts and allowing only three hits.

Spring Lake improved to 24-2 on the season. Oakridge fell to 25-2.

“Leah was in command,” said Spring Lake head coach Bill Core. “She was hitting her spots and got a lot of swings and misses. She has put in the time, she wants to be a good pitcher.”

Oakridge coach Joe Coletta saluted Vaughan’s dominance, as well.

“She was outstanding,” he said. “I thought it was (U.S. Olympian) Jennie Finch out there for a while.”

Pitching well against a team like Oakridge made the victory that much sweeter for Vaughan.

Bri Pastor tosses the ball into the infield after making the final out of the inning with Spring Lake’s No. 15 Madelyn Nelson on the base path. Photo/Leo Valdez

“It is a little bit (intimidating), but it just makes me want to work even harder,” she said.

Spring Lake set the tone early with three runs in the first inning.

Lauren Hellman doubled to start the game and scored when Linsey Paggeot reached on an error. Madelyn Nelson followed with a double. Molly Poole drove in a run with a groundout and Vaughan brought in a run with a sacrifice bunt.

“Scoring first was one of our keys,” said Core. “We were hoping for one early, so to get three … that puts a little extra pressure on them.”

The Lakers added a run in the third on a ground ball by Jenna Core to score Nelson. Hellman reached on an error in the fourth and scored on a single by Nelson.

The final two Laker runs came in the sixth. Kileah Rymal snuck in to score on a wild pitch and Hellman scored on a single by Nelson.

Despite the rough outing for his squad, Coletta views the loss as a growth opportunity for his talented team.

“This was good for us to see better pitching,” he said. “Now hopefully next time we see better pitching, we’ll be better prepared.”

Vaughan’s season record is now 16-1. Her ERA entering the game was a miniscule .93. She held hitters to a .125 (3-for-24) average Wednesday, better than her season mark of .180.

Nelson was 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored for Spring Lake. Hellman doubled twice and scored three runs. Rymal has two base hits and Core had one.

Core, Vaughan and Poole each had one RBI.

Alyssa Fessenden had two hits for Oakridge. She also pitched three innings in relief, allowing two earned runs and striking out three. Hannah Reinhold had the other Oakridge hit.

Kayla Fessenden started on the mound for the Eagles. She pitched three innings, allowed three earned runs and struck out two.