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Diamond dancing

Lakeview offense on display

Staff photo / Brad Emerine Lakeview’s Kylie Imes smacks an RBI single between short and third during the Bulldogs’ 22-0 win over Grand Valley.

CORTLAND — The Lakeview and Grand Valley softball teams had ample time to prepare for their noon contest on Saturday, as the umpiring crew was misinformed of the starting time.

Grand Valley took infield twice and then waited and watched from its dugout as the Lakeview players put on a dancing and singing display in front of their dugout.

It was a prelude of what was to follow — as the Bulldogs’ bats were tuned up, their pitching and defense were in sync and they danced around the basepaths at will in a 22-0 victory over the short-handed Mustangs.

“The key to this is not getting close to them when they’re dancing, because they’ll force you to join them,” said Lakeview coach Nate Schick, who was hiding behind home plate during the pregame festivities. “And nobody wants to see that.”

The teams will meet again Monday in Orwell.

“We were without five starters today for various reasons,” Grand Valley coach Mitchell Lake said. “We have a few on vacation and some at AAU basketball games and other reasons. So we had a lot of young girls just learning and gaining experience. We didn’t strike out a bunch and I was pleased with that. We faced some good pitching and our younger girls had some hits and some hard outs.

“You can always find positives and you can always find things to work on. That’s what we’re expecting this season. The goal is for us to improve every day. Hopefully come May, we’ll be a much-improved team.”

Lakeview junior pitcher Reagan Schick allowed three hits in her five-inning mercy-rule victory, struck out five and walked one. She had an abundance of offensive support.

¯ Junior shortstop Kylie Imes was 5-for-5 with five RBI. She had four singles and a three-run home run to left field.

¯ Schick was 4-for-4, all singles, with a walk.

¯ Junior leadoff batter Sammy Aey, a left-handed slap-hitter, was 3-for-5. She had two singles and “slapped” a grand slam home run to right-center field.

¯ Sophomore third baseman Maggie Pavlansky singled, doubled and drove in four runs.

¯ Also managing two hits apiece were senior catcher Olivia Kelm, sophomore second baseman Gianna Caruso and freshman left fielder Olivia Easton.

¯ All but one starter, freshman first baseman Izzy Haines, drove in at least one run. Haines, by the way, walked in all three of her plate appearances.

The Bulldogs batted around in each of the first three innings and scored in all four of their at-bats. Lakeview scored eight times in the first inning and put up a half-dozen runs in both the second and third innings. They finished with 22 hits.

“I think we can compete with anyone because I feel we’ll score enough runs to win,” coach Schick said. “We need to pitch well and play good defense. We’re trying to get better every game. We just need to execute better and we’re working on that.

“We want to start hitting our stride in these next few weeks. We’ll be playing almost every day and that should help us get into a groove and help the girls get into a routine. That helps with consistency. But we needed a game like this to build the confidence and now we need to keep that going.”

The Bulldogs moved to 2-2 overall, with their other win coming over Bristol. They are 0-2 in the Northeast-8 Conference, losing twice to Girard.

“This conference has to be one of the best in the state of Ohio from top to bottom,” coach Schick said. “Hubbard, South Range and Poland are all perennial powerhouses. All have great pitching and great defenses behind them. It’s a real buzzsaw. You can’t take anyone for granted. You’ve got to be ready to play every day and that’s why we have to hit our groove shortly.”

As for Monday’s rematch, the Mustangs will be looking to compete better.

“Our main goal is just to get better every day,” said Lake, whose team is 1-2. “I think we will be OK once we get our full cavalry back and playing consistently. Our defense needs work, obviously, but that will come along. It’s always a learning experience, even with everyone available.”

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