WOODSIDE — Kayla Thompson said she thought the Lake Forest High softball team was capable of a late-inning rally.
What happened in the sixth inning was more than a rally, though.
It was an offensive explosion.
Thompson drove in the go-ahead run to highlight a 12-run sixth for the Spartans as they earned a come-from-behind victory, 12-2, over defending state champion Polytech on Thursday afternoon.
“We were never giving up,” Thompson, a sophomore, said. “We don’t admit defeat. We just kept pushing through and it worked out in the end for us. Everybody just feeds off of everybody else. When you feel good about what everyone else is doing, you do good yourself.”
Polytech had won 14 consecutive games entering the contest. Thursday’s win was the first time Lake Forest defeated the Panthers in softball in at least seven seasons.
Lake Forest (2-0) sent 16 batters to the plate in the sixth inning. Ten of the Spartans’ 12 runs came with two outs.
Kaitlyn Stahre began the inning with a single and scored to cut Polytech’s lead to 2-1 when Brooke Glanden tripled in the next at-bat. Glanden then came home to tie the game on Kerrigan Simpson’s RBI double.
After a flyout and a strikeout, Thompson put the Spartans in front when she laced a liner to the outfield that plated Simpson.
“They started really focusing and digging in I guess gaining their confidence,” said Lake Forest coach Ashlie Tatman. “The first couple innings, we were maybe a little unsure of ourselves, but the sixth inning we showed what we are capable of.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this happen with this group of girls, and it’s an amazing feeling as a coach to watch your players actually come together, and I hope they continue to do what we did today.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen them really gel. They supported each other and came together as a team. I think this really sets the bar for our season.”
Once Lake Forest took the 3-2 lead on Thompson’s single, the floodgates opened.
The Spartans loaded the bases thanks to back-to-back walks before Mya Maddox pushed across another run, pounding a single through the Polytech infield. The Spartans took advantage of four Polytech errors in the at-bats that followed with some aggressive base-running.
Thompson, Stahre, Glanden, Simpson, Maddox, Catera Kennedy, Grace Aguilar, Brittany Baker and Faith Garey all came home to score in the sixth as Lake extended its lead from 3-2 to 12-2. Baker and Garey had RBI singles, while Thompson added a double that drove in a pair of runs before the inning finally came to a close.
Lake Forest was close to downing the Panthers a year ago. The Spartans led 5-4 before Polytech answered with two runs in the top of the seventh for the win.
But this time it was the Spartans who had the late-inning comeback.
“It’s a really special win for us,” Thompson said. “We came really close to beating them last year but lost 6-5, and it felt really good to pull together as a team and get the runs that we needed when we needed them.”