Lady Lakers head south for some of winter
February 18, 2012By Chet Novak of LAKE LAND COLLEGE
MATTOON--A Laker is a duck, and ducks fly south in winter. But the Lady Lakers will be happy to bus it instead for a 12-game Spring Trip.
Head coach, Nic Nelson's, 2012 squad will sort of barnstorm their way to Florida, where they will settle in near the Atlantic Ocean for three days of double header tourney action in Panama City at the Gulf Coast Tournament.
The Spring Trip is important in preparing for the Great Rivers Athetic Conference season, which opens up for Lake Land on March 10, a double header versus Southeastern Illinois College at Laker Softball Field (first pitch: noon CST).
The Lady Lakers are ranked 20th in the nation in the NJCAA-SOFT-Division I pre-season poll, a ranking that has more than a few people scratching their heads as Lake Land finished 5th in the country at the National Finals in St. George, Utah, last May. But regardless of how the nation's Top-20 Div-I softball poll is configured, about all that counts now is how teams prepare for the upcoming campaign for conference titles, regional tourneys, and hopefully, a trip to St. George, where once more, the Div-I finals will be held.
Over the course of the next nine days, Lake Land will be playing many teams that have been able to accomplish outdoor practices and games since they are based far south of Illinois. LLC's disadvantage is obvious but the bonus is playing teams that -- at this point -- are basically futher along in their development for this season. There are few things that prepare a team better than playing competition at their own level or better.
The NJCAA has predicted the Lady Lakers to win Region 24, but teams also predicted to finish high (Wabash Valley College, 2nd; John A. Logan College, 3rd; Kaskaskia College, 4th) would beg to differ.
Now that we've gone from Spring Trip to Utah in several paragraphes, however, maybe we should back it up to today, and let the Lady Lakers take things one game at a time, starting at noon (CST) in Neosho, MO, versus Crowder Community College.