By Andrew Johnson

CALEDONIA – The Spring Lake softball team reached a new level of success by playing in the Division 2 state quarterfinals at Davenport University on Tuesday.

But the Lakers ultimately lost 6-1 to Stevensville Lakeshore, a team that’s accustomed to playing at the highest levels of the state tournament.

The Lancers have won seven state titles under head coach Denny Dock, while the Lakers were playing in their first ever quarterfinal game.

Spring Lake ended its season with a 37-5 record, an O-K Blue Conference championship, and district and regional titles.

The future looks very bright for the Lakers, who only lose two seniors – Addison Lindsey and Ann Marie Galloway – while returning eight starters next year.

“This is the first time we’ve gotten to this level,” said Spring Lake Coach Bill Core. “We’ve won quite a few district and conference titles. To get a little taste of the quarterfinals with eight starters returning, maybe we can stay hungry for 350 days or something like that.”

The Lancers scored got on the scoreboard first with a pair of runs in the second inning.

The Lakers answered with a run of their own in the third inning when Madelyn Nelson’s squeeze bunt scored Lauren Hellman to make the score 2-1.

Stevensville Lakeshore scored two runs in the third, one run in the fifth, and one final run in the sixth to seal the win.

Core said the pressure the Lancers put on the Spring Lake defense was immense.

“They keep constant pressure on you, they have a lot of slappers and small-contact hitters,” the coach said. “They put the ball in play and run. I told the girls that I can’t imagine what they do to teams that don’t play defense as well as we do.”

The Lakers struck out 12 times in the game, and Core had high praise for Lancers pitcher Taylor Simon.

“I don’t know what the ball was doing, but she threw it by us and we had a lot of swings and misses,” he said.

Hellman led the Laker offense with two of her team’s four hits. Olivia Freehling paced the Lancers with three hits, including two doubles and two RBIs.