LAKE ELSINORE ---- Playoff softball can be as unforgiving as it is unpredictable. Lakeside coach Todd Naylor compares it to the NCAA tournament.
"You just never know," Naylor said. "Any day, anything can happen to anybody. It's like that basketball tournament. It's the craziest thing ever."
Crazy was as good a description as any for some of what befell Lakeside in the field Tuesday, as it committed seven errors and fell 7-3 to West Covina South Hills in a CIF Southern Section Division III second-round game at Lakeside High School.
All seven runs for South Hills -- which made it to the Division V section championship game last year -- were unearned.
"They didn't have an earned run," Naylor said. "That's a tough thing for the pitcher. That's a tough thing for the team."
The Huskies (19-7) scored three runs in the third inning when Lakeside was charged with three errors. They scored three runs again in the next inning, as the Lancers committed another error.
For all of their troubles, Lakeside (19-7) was able to stay in the game courtesy of some strong pitching under difficult circumstances by Jasmine Smithson-Willett and a lineup that came alive in the last two innings.
Austen Urness delivered a run-scoring double that rolled all the way to the center-field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Lakeside struck for two runs. The Lancers added another run in the seventh, on a single to right by Alyssa Loyless, and had the tying run at the plate with one out.
But South Hills pitcher Sydney LaFollette was able to retire Megan Bartee on an grounder and Smithson-Willett on a fly ball to center field to end the game.
"Our team's known for coming back in the sixth or seventh inning, you know, trying to start a rally," Urness said. "But we needed to wake up a little bit earlier this time."
Seven different players scored runs for South Hills, which lost in the Division V final to Whittier Christian last year. On Tuesday, it wasn't spectacular but it didn't hurt itself either. LaFollette failed to strike out a single batter, but she retired nine in a row after allowing a one-out single in the third to Loyless, and was able to get the Lancers to hit the ball on the ground consistently.
"You've got to play the team that shows up," South Hills coach Scott Fisch said. "And they had a tough day. But we've been there, too. That's what happens in the playoffs.
"But we still earned it, too. Very good pitching in the circle. Some hitting throughout the game. And our defense was sparkling."
Lakeside, the Sunbelt League champ, is a team dominated by underclassmen. Six juniors and two sophomores were in the starting lineup against South Hills.
"We fell on a day we shouldn't have," Naylor said. "Not to take anything away from them, they're very well-coached, a very good team. And I'd like to see them go far just because they beat us."