By CAREY FOX
CLAY CITY -- The Shakamak Lakers took the first step towards defending their sectional title by defeating host Clay City 6-0 in the opening round of postseason play on Monday.
The Lakers' Heather Gilbert controlled the Clay City offense, holding the Eels to just three hits in the game and striking out eight batters.
Shakamak posted the game's first run in the opening frame, taking advantage of a walk to Megan Netherlain with one out. Annie Strahla advanced the runner with a groundout and Megan Cox blooped a run scoring single to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead.
Gilbert made that run hold up and later added a two-run triple in the fourth inning that came after an RBI single from Brooke Collins that put the Eels into a 4-0 hole they couldn't dig their way out from.
Clay City's best opportunity came in the second inning when Chelsea Hane dropped a single into left-centerfield and senior Kristen Tyler reached base on a 10-foot popup in the infield. Both runners advanced on two-out stolen bases, but Gilbert struckout Lindsey Moss to end the Eels' shot.
From there, Gilbert gave up just one more hit, a single by Emily Reed in the third inning while striking out four more batters to advance to the sectional semifinals.
North Central was a dramatic winner in the first game of the evening, scoring a pair of 12th inning runs to overcome a 4-3 Union (Dugger) lead for the victory.
The Thunderbirds trailed 3-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning before rallying to tie the score and send the contest into extended extra innings. Both squads had several opportunities to snatch the win with runners in scoring position with less than two outs, but it wasn't until the 12th that the Thunderbirds broke through for victory.
The Lakers and T-Birds will face each other at 6 p.m. tonight followed by Bloomfield and White River Valley.
Clay City finishes the season at 9-9 overall while the Lakers advance to 14-11.
Clay City Sectional
Shakamak 6, Clay City 0
3B -- Sh (H.Gilbert, Wasnidge).