By Nate Thompson
SPRING LAKE — Bill Core doesn’t want to yell at his team just for the sake of yelling.
So even after the Lakers improved to 17-0 and rolled to their 70th and 71st consecutive league victories in a doubleheader sweep of Grand Rapids West Catholic on Tuesday, Core spent at least 15 minutes speaking to his team about maintaining focus and being good teammates.
“The fun but difficult thing is – and I don’t want to say nitpick – but we can hit, we can throw, we can pitch, we can run, we can do a lot of good things,” Core said. “But I know this team has big goals, and so we talk about not being scoreboard watchers, things like that.
“We said this season we’re going to be critical of little things, because we do a majority of the big things really well.”
The Lakers were eliminated in the Division 2 state quarterfinals a year ago by Stevensville Lakeshore, a loss that Core said “left a (bad) taste in our mouth.”
The two teams could very well meet in the quarters again this season. Spring Lake is currently ranked No. 3 in the state in Division 2, while Lakeshore is No. 1.
“This team wants to get to Michigan State,” Core said, referring to the site of the state final four.
The Lakers are already demonstrating that they’re a better offensive team than they were a year ago, with consistent hitting throughout the lineup.
That was on full display in Game 2 against the Falcons, when Spring Lake had 17 hits in the four-inning 16-1 win, with the majority being sharp line-drives to the gaps in the outfield.
The 1-2-3 hitters of Lauren Hellman, Madelyn Nelson and Lindsey Paggeot led the charge, totaling nine hits and 10 RBIs, including Nelson’s four RBIs. The trio are each fourth-year varsity players.
“We don’t expect to stay undefeated the entire season,” Hellman said. “But we hold ourselves to a high standard. Being undefeated right now, that’s just the way it’s worked out. But we do good with the pressure.”
The big run support helped senior pitcher Lauren Somers, who scattered six hits and only allowed one run en route to the Game 2 victory.
Spring Lake’s defense was also rock-solid. One of the best plays of the game was a nice running catch in right field by Kileah Rymal that ended the top of the fourth.
In Game 1, Hellman had a pair of home runs and Leah Vaughan also blasted a round-tripper to propel the Lakers to a 12-1 victory. Spring Lake scored eight runs in the first inning to blow open the contest.
“A lot of us play travel ball, so we know what to expect,” Hellman said. “It’s nice to be able to count on everyone in our lineup. There’s really no one that you’re not really sure of.”
Paggeot contributed three hits, while Vaughan picked up the pitching win. She allowed just four hits and struck out eight Falcons in the five-inning victory.
Spring Lake next travels north to Traverse City for a pair of challenging doubleheaders. The Lakers will square off against Traverse City Central on Friday and Traverse City West on Saturday.