After putting together an 11-game winning streak, the sixth-ranked Estherville Lincoln Central Midgets suddenly are struggling to hit the ball.
ELC was in control of its destiny to win the Lakes Conference with games against Emmetsburg and LeMars. The Midgets were held hitless by the E'Hawks last Thursday.
On Saturday, LeMars limited ELC to four hits in a 2-0 loss.
ELC senior Kellie Christensen had one of the Midgets’ four hits against LeMars on Saturday.
EDN photo by David Swartz
While ELC still goes on record as the 2012 Lakes Conference champs, the title is shared with both LeMars and Emmetsburg as all three teams finished with three league losses. The E'Hawks did have one league game left to play against Storm Lake on Monday.
ELC coach Megan Anderson said there is some concern as the Midgets enter the playoffs against Spirit Lake this evening.
"They (LeMars) were more excited to play than we were," she said. "We didn't play with the same intensity."
The Midgets had another good outing by pitcher Kendall Bosch, who finished the game with 10 strikeouts. The Bulldogs did come up with 10 hits, but eight of them were by the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 batters, Ashley Phelan (4-4), Emily Ellefson (2-3) and Madison Heidebrink (2-3).
ELC only came up with four hits. The Midgets' best chance to score came in the first inning. Emily Kirchner hit a two-out double. LeMars intentionally walked Bosch, the Midgets' cleanup batter. Christina Tendal then drew a walk to load the bases. Taylor Lago popped up to left field to end the threat.
ELC didn't come up with many base runners the rest of the game. Kellie Christensen had a two-out single in the second inning. Kirchner hit a one-out single in the third.
In the fifth inning, Macy Dahl drew a two-out walk in the fifth. Kirchner then hit a long fly ball that the LeMars center fielder caught at the fence.
LeMars pitcher Molly Renken, who had given up 14 hits to the Midgets in the teams' first meeting, struck out seven.
ELC (24-6 overall, 11-3 in the conference) hosts Spirit Lake at 7 p.m., today, for the Class 3A first-round game. The Midgets have beaten the Indians twice this season-11-1 in five innings on June 8 and 15-3 on June 27.
The winner of tonight's game will play the Algona-Humboldt winner in Estherville at 7 p.m. Friday.