Lakewood senior Kelsi Thompson has been there before. As a freshman, she hit the game-winning home run that gave the Lancers their third consecutive state championship in 2010.
On Monday, with the Mid-State League-Ohio Division title on the line at Heath, Thompson set the tone when she hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Sophomore Emily Kidwell would break the game open with a grand slam in the fourth.
That proved to be more than enough for Lakewood in a 14-3 victory against the Bulldogs. It was Lakewood’s eighth league championship in the past nine years.
“One of the big goals this team had was to put us back on top of the league,” Lakewood coach Criss Nadolson said. “They battled hard all year and worked hard to get it done. We don’t know if we will share it or have it outright, but we know we have at least a share.”
The Lancers (20-4, 10-2) knocked Heath (19-6, 9-3) out of the race and now will wait to see if Licking Valley, which only has two league losses, wins on Thursday against Granville.
Heath committed two errors to start the game and, after a run came home on a wild pitch, Thompson’s homer made it 3-0.
“It got me going and got the team going, and it definitely set the tone,” Thompson said. “To win this league championship means a lot. We have worked really hard this entire year and we have come together as a team.
“Not winning it last year and to come back and win it this year is a great feeling. It should give us a lot of confidence heading into the tournament.”
Nadolson said: “(Heath) made a couple of big mistakes and then we hit the ball out of the ballpark and that gave us a three-run lead. It was big to get ahead in the first. We had some big two-out hits and scored some runs, and that was big.”
The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 3-1 in their half of the inning on an RBI single from Mikhayla Wolfe. Lakewood scored a run in the second, and Heath again countered with a run on a solo homer by Nikki Franga, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, Kidwell hit a grand slam over the right-center field fence to push the Lancers’ lead to 8-2.
“In that situation, I was looking to just get a base hit,” Kidwell said. “It just kind of happened, and it felt good, especially since I hit it over right field. I’ve never had one to right field.”
Kidwell hit a two-run homer in her next plate appearance to push the lead to 10-2 in the sixth. Kidwell went 3-for-5 with seven RBI and two runs.
“She put a good swing on it and drove the ball to right field,” Nadolson said. “Most teams like to pitch her away because (on) the inside half she is lethal. She’s been working on hitting the opposite way, and it was nice to see her drive that to right-center field — and that was a big home run to give us a six-run lead.”
Lakewood, which finished with 11 hits, added four more runs in the seventh.
Kaitlyn Peacock had three hits and scored four runs, and Bailey Brownfield had a double and scored three runs.
Dakota Wood pitched all seven innings for the Lancers, striking out four and walking three.
Cierra Hughes and Taya Croom had two hits each for the Bulldogs.
“I thought the whole team played well, especially in a big game with the title on the line,” Nadolson said.