Austin gets another shot at Lakeville

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 31, 2002

The Austin softball team will soon have the opportunity to satisfy its curiousity.

The Packers (19-3) asked for a second shot at Lakeville after the Panthers upended Austin 2-1 in the semifinals of the Elks Softball Invite April 26. Now they will get that chance.

Fourth-seeded Lakeville (15-9) shocked Farmington (20-4) -- turning the tables on an 11-0, five-inning semifinal loss -- by blanking the top-seeded Tigers 6-0 in Thursday night's losers' bracket finals at Todd Park. Lakeville and Austin will meet tonight at 6 p.m.

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"We're looking forward to playing them again," said Packer junior Steph Sundberg, whose two-out double in the top of the seventh set the table for the tying run in the first pairing. "It was a solid game all-around by both teams. I was disappointed to see us lose that one. It was a good feeling we came back, but it stinks we lost."

Austin has the advantage of no losses in the double-elimination tournament, while Lakeville already has one defeat to its credit. The Panthers will have to take two games from Austin tonight in order to stop the Packers from making it to state.

In their only regular-season meeting, Lakeville scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and take a 2-1 win from the Packers at their annual Elks Invite.

"They're a good club, I'm sure they're going to be around in the end," Austin coach Todd Waterbury said after his Packers suffered their only non-conference loss back in April. "I hope we're in the thick of things too."

Eleven wins and one loss later, Austin is one victory away from getting back to the state tournament after back-to-back appearances in 1999 and 2000.

Coach Waterbury felt that despite the loss to Lakeville, his team learned a lot from the contest.

"There's no way to duplicate those game situations in practice," he said after the defeat. "We made this team a better team today. We're going to walk out of here a better club."

Since the loss Austin made one minor lineup change that has paid dividends throughout the second half of the season. The Packers moved senior Chelsea McColley from the leadoff position into a spot where she can drive in runs, now batting third. Junior Kylene Erstad took over the top of the order, where she started 7-for-10 and is presently 5-for-12 (.417) in the postseason.

Austin is 11-1 since the Lakeville loss, scoring an average of 5.9 runs per game as compared to 4.8 before the lineup change.

Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at