FORT WAYNE – The Lakewood Park softball program has made a significant step each of the past three years, from a state runner-up in 2011 to a state champion in 2012 to being downright dominant this season.
In getting back to defend their Class A state championship Saturday, the Panthers (28-2) have outscored five postseason opponents by a 72-0 margin.
Our biggest goal was to make it to state and win again, Lakewood Park junior pitcher Mikeila Boroff said. We all knew it would not be handed to us. We all have committed time and effort to each other so we could accomplish all of our goals as a team. There has been a huge target on our backs from the day we first stepped on the field during preseason since earning our state title. However, that has just pushed us harder as a team.
The postseason run has been led by Boroff, who is 26-2 with a 0.94 ERA and 284 strikeouts in 178 innings.
In the postseason, everyone has been doing their part, Boroff said. This has been huge for us as a team and has helped us immensely with shutting a team out. We can’t take any team lightly, and therefore we give our all every game not for ourselves, but for each other.
As a pitcher, I know I must work hard and get my practice in. I pitch during the end of certain practices as if it were a game, counting balls and strikes, walks and possible hits.
Boroff, a Butler recruit, said she has become a better pitcher by listening to her catcher, junior Jaclyn Delagrange, along with her father and grandfather.
Jaclyn really pushes me during practice, a game or travel tournaments, Boroff said. My dad and grandpa have also been key in improving myself as a pitcher. They point out anything they think I can work on to improve, and then we pitch in my grandpa’s backyard to work on it. I get a lot of positive feedback, positive criticism and positive pressure from my teammates, coaches and family.
I also love to watch college softball on TV. Watching the pitchers and focusing on what I can do to improve my pitching based on how they do has also helped me improve. However, it takes a lot of mental focus, preparation and confidence on the mound, which also has been key in improvement for my pitching.
Top-ranked Lakewood Park slipped past Indianapolis Lutheran 3-2 in last year’s title game, scoring the game-winning run in the top of the seventh inning. But the way the Panthers have been playing lately, they are looking to make the 2013 title game matchup against No. 3 Tecumseh a blowout.
We are an extremely competitive team, Boroff said. We strive to be bigger and better than we were the year before and with this, we know requires hard work, and we have always been ready to step up and work our hardest. Our coaches have prepared us since Day 1 to be champions.
We take every game the same. We practice hard every single day with great intensity.