By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
With two of the area’s top pitchers squaring off Thursday night in the championship game of the Class 3A Lakeland Sectional between Lakeland and Fairfield, the margin for error figured to be very small.
That ended up being exactly the case, as the Falcons prevailed over the Lakers, 5-4 to claim their first-ever sectional championship, Fairfield’s Danica Mast outdueling Lakeland’s Ashlyn Grubb.
Fairfield coach John Skibbe was happy for his team’s seven seniors — Alex DeWitt, Raina Troyer, Kyla Bender, Riley Troyer, Margaret Moore, Adrienne Miller and Kaela Miller.
He was also pleased to see his team prevail in a one-run game after losing six such games recently.
The two teams breezed through the first three innings quickly, and it looked like the stage was being set for a tight ballgame.
Fairfield broke through first with three runs in the bottom of the fourth on a 2-run homer by DJ Martz and subsequent solo blast by Karen Schwartz.
The Lakers battled back to within one in the top of the sixth, getting a two-run single from Ashton Miller.
But Fairfield added on two more insurance runs in the home half of the sixth – and it was Schwartz again providing the fireworks, this time a two-ruin blast.
Those runs would prove to be very necessary, as the Lakers rallied in the top of the seventh to make things interesting. After the game, a smiling Schwartz said she had tears in her eyes as she rounded the bases.
“It was like a dream,” Schwartz said.
Even more special is the fact that the two long balls propelled her team to the team’s first ever sectional championship. “I do pretty well against hard-throwing pitchers, and I got two pitches right down the middle,” Schwartz said.
The Falcons move on to regional competition next Tuesday against the winner of a Thursday night Leo Sectional championship game between Woodlan and Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger.