Nick Sabato/Lakeland Times

Lakeland’s Jenna Seidl drove in the game-winning run on a ground out in the third inning of a 3-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Northland Pines on Tuesday, May 15.
Nick Sabato/Lakeland Times

Lakeland’s Jenna Seidl drove in the game-winning run on a ground out in the third inning of a 3-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Northland Pines on Tuesday, May 15.
EAGLE RIVER - With the regular season coming to a close, Lakeland Union High School softball needed to snap a recent losing skid after dropping six out of seven last week.

In previous games this season, the Thunderbirds have shown an inability to consistently play from behind, but in Tuesday's Great Northern Conference doubleheader at Northland Pines, they faced a pair of first inning deficits.

This time, Lakeland was able to regain its composure to secure a pair of comeback wins.

"In most of the games we've gotten down early, we haven't been able to do that," LUHS head coach Jason Morris said. "They really came to fight and came to play hard tonight and I think they knew how crucial these two games were both for (playoff) seeding and for bragging rights in the conference standings. I can't say enough about how the girls stayed up, they were involved in the whole game from the dugout and we had combinations at the right time from a lot of different people."



Getting the job done

Recently Lakeland has experienced some offensive woes, but in the first game against Northland Pines, an offensive onslaught wasn't necessary.

The T-Birds jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Kallin Lenz, but the Lady Eagles responded by scoring two runs in the bottom half of the inning on a pair of singles and a dropped third strike.

The deficit didn't last long as Lakeland stepped to the plate in the third inning.

Tatum Morris led off with a double, followed by a walk of Lenz and a single by Ally Pairolero to load the bases.

Morris would score on a wild pitch two batters later and Lenz scored on a ground out by Jenna Seidl to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead it would never relinquish.

Lakeland didn't need any more offense the rest of the game as Tatum Morris controlled the game in the circle.

The sophomore went the distance, needing just 62 pitches. She gave up just one earned run on six hits, while striking out eight batters without allowing a walk.

"There was a lot of really good defense out there tonight," Jason Morris said. "The girls got fired up. I got on them a little bit just to get a little more fired up and a few of them really responded well, stepped up and made the plays when we needed them."

Morris also went 2 for 4 at the plate, as did Pairolero.



Resiliency

In last Thursday's game at Crandon, Lakeland gave up six runs in the first inning and were never able to recover.

Against Northland Pines, lightning struck twice as the Lady Eagles delivered five runs in the top of the first.

Just as the T-Birds did against Crandon, they scored three runs in the following inning. This time, however, they continued to hit, scoring three runs to take the lead in the third and eventually surged ahead for good after Pines regained the lead later in the game, resulting in an 8-7 win.

Lakeland got some big games from a pair of juniors.

Emma Salquist was roughed up in the circle in the first and Tatum Morris moved back to pitch the remainder of the game.

Salquist didn't fold, though. Instead she led the offensive attack, going 3 for 3, with each of her hits going for doubles.

Meanwhile, Pairolero went 3 for 4, all of which were RBI singles, including the game-tying run in the bottom of the fourth.

"Ally and I had a conversation in that first game and she fired up after that and it was great to see her respond," Jason Morris said. "Emma, she's very consistent. We switched her out more from a defensive standpoint. She was pitching well, they were just hitting her a lot and Tatum had an error there at shortstop and I just felt we had to get solid at defense again. Emma just stepped up and did what she does."

Seidl drove in the eventual game-winning run on an RBI single in the fourth inning.

Tatum Morris didn't allow an earned run on three hits in five innings of work to go along with five strikeouts. She also helped herself by going 2 for 3 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Lakeland went into Wednesday's playoff seeding meeting 9-12 and 3-7 in the GNC.

The T-Birds wrapped up the GNC slate at Medford on Thursday and finish the regular season this afternoon with a doubleheader against Ironwood at Lenz Field, beginning at 4:15 p.m.

Nick Sabato may be reached at nick@lakelandtimes.com or via Twitter @NickSabatoLT.