By Dan Shriner
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — One great inning was all it took as Lake Orion’s softball team won its first regional title since 2004 on Saturday.
The lady Dragons beat Romeo, 6-1, scoring all of its runs in the bottom of the fifth to qualify for the state quarterfinals which were played on Tuesday after The Lake Orion Review went to press.
If the sixth-ranked Dragons get past second-ranked Farmington Hills Mercy on Tuesday, they will move to the state championships this weekend at Michigan State University.
Coach Joe Woityra said his team seems to come alive late in games recently.
“I wish we could score earlier but I’ll take it. Our bats came alive in the fifth. We had two key hits, good pitching and played very good defense,” Woityra said. “I’m incredibly happy for these girls and this community. This is a special day.”
Down 1-0 in the bottom on the fifth, junior Shelby Misiak led the rally with a bases-loaded double that scored three.
A couple of batters later, senior second baseman Carly McGee shocked herself, her teammates, coaches and fans by clubbing a three-run homer to right.
“I’ve never hit a home run before, on any level,” she said. “I thought the ball might be caught but then it saw it hit the sidewalk (in back of the right field fence). I just threw my arms up, I was so excited.”
Her teammates were equally excited as they mobbed McGee at home plate.
Pitcher Sierra Gonzales then went to work and shut down Romeo in the final two innings.
She said she recalled losing to Romeo two years ago in the regionals and did not want a repeat.
“I was nervous,” she said. “My belly was turning.”
The pressure didn’t seem to affect her as she struck out seven, allowed four hits and struck out the last batter she faced.
Lake Orion improved to 35-5.
In the regional semifinals, junior pitcher Alexis Aguilar scattered five hits for an 11-1 victory over Birmingham Groves.
The Dragons again relied on some big innings for the win. Tied at 1-1, the girls scored a go-ahead run in the fourth, added five more runs in the fifth and another four in the seventh.
Lake Orion had 15 hits, led by freshman Tessa Nuss’ two hits and two RBI. Misiak clubbed a homer in the game.