It was a tough week for the Lakeland Union High School softball team.
The Thunderbirds played three games on the road over the weekend, dropping all three in close battles.
Slow start dooms T-Birds
On Thursday, Lakeland traveled to Crandon to take on the Cardinals for the second time in five days.
The T-Birds hoped to duplicate the first game in which they beat Crandon in their invite championship game.
This time around it didn't turn out the same way. Crandon scored six runs in the first inning and Lakeland was never able to recover in a 7-4 loss.
"We wanted to give Jenna (Seidl) an opportunity to get out there and get some time today and we probably should have taken her out a little sooner," LUHS head coach Jason Morris said. "That's on me. With Tatum (Morris) catching, I didn't want to go through that whole rigamarole, but I probably should have pulled her a little sooner. I feel bad, she's a good pitcher, we wanted to get her some confidence today and I don't know if I did that for her."
After Seidl's rough start - which included six runs on three hits and four walks - Tatum Morris was inserted at pitcher and was able to keep the Cardinals at bay.
Offensively, Lakeland didn't go down without a fight, responding with three runs in the top of the second on an RBI double by Kallin Lenz and a 2-run single by Britta Salquist.
"Our bats were hitting the ball today," Morris said. "We've got to work on things a bit to keep the ball more on line drives and ground balls, versus the fly balls we're getting right now because they're just not dropping for us."
Unfortunately, Lakeland couldn't keep up the consistency on offense, leaving runners on base in the third, fourth, six and seventh innings.
Throughout the game, the T-Birds left a total of 10 ducks on the pond.
"We still have a fairly young team and not a lot of experience at the bottom of the order," Morris said. "That experience will come with time and games played. Without Caitlin (Hartigan) in the lineup we had to do a little shuffling in the batting order and we were trying to come up with something that would work and obviously it didn't come out as well as we were hoping."
Seidl drove in the final Lakeland run on a fielder's choice in the seventh.
Tatum Morris gave up one run on four hits and struck out six in five innings of work, while also going 3 for 4 at the plate.
Wausau East Invite
Lakeland looked to right the ship on Saturday in a pair of games in the Wausau East Invite, but ended up suffering back-to-back losses instead.
In both outings the T-Birds simply did not have the firepower to keep up.
In the first game against Wausau East, Lakeland started hot, scoring four runs in the in the top of the second.
Seidl, Kayleigh Baasch and Emma Salquist all had RBI singles, while Seidl scored on a wild pitch.
The lead didn't last long, though, as Wausau East scored two runs in three innings in a row.
Emma Salquist stole home for the final run in the seventh, but Lakeland couldn't muster any more offense.
"Wausau East is very persistent," Jason Morris said. "We had a really good second inning offensively and they just stuck with it. They kept fighting, just chipped away and chipped away and fought like you'd expect a team to fight. We just couldn't put any more hits together."
In the second game of the day, Lakeland dropped a 2-0 heartbreaker to Wittenberg-Birnamwood on two unearned runs.
Tatum Morris allowed just three hits, but Lakeland only had four of its own in the shutout loss.
"There's a little bit of a lack of focus that, as a coaching staff, we need to get addressed and fixed," Jason Morris said. "Unfortunately that lack of focus in the field translates over to hitting sometimes and it's hard to stay positive when you've got one or the other not working for you."
Lakeland (7-12, 1-7 Great Northern) dropped six of its seven games last week, but has a chance to get back on track this afternoon with a Great Northern Conference doubleheader at Northland Pines, beginning at 4 p.m.
Nick Sabato may be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @NickSabatoLT.