The Lakewood High School softball team's fortunes changed as did the home-plate umpire during the fifth inning of a Division III regional semifinal last Thursday at Lancaster.

The Lakewood High School softball team's fortunes changed as did the home-plate umpire during the fifth inning of a Division III regional semifinal last Thursday at Lancaster.

Coach Criss Nadolson didn't openly admit to a correlation between the two after the Lancers rallied to post a 7-3 victory over Chillicothe Zane Trace, however.

With her team trailing 3-2 when the ill umpire, who had complained of dizziness from the onset, swapped places with another in the field, Alissa Birkhimer's two-run single with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth put Lakewood on top to stay as they improved to 29-2 and advanced to last Saturday's regional-championship game against Wheelersburg.

"(The delay) gave me a chance to talk the girls a little bit," Nadolson said. "That didn't hurt."

The Lancers also trailed 2-0 after Birkhimer yielded a solo home run to Tieana Steele in the top of the third. They fought back with two runs of their own in the home half of the inning, but in the fourth Courtney Clever's RBI-single with two outs put the Pioneers back on top.

"Our girls just don't quit. I don't think they'd quit if it was 10-0," Nadolson said. "They just kept battling and found enough hits."

With her team leading 4-3, Chelsea Riley added an RBI-single in the sixth and Lindsay Barrett followed with a two-run single to center field to complete the scoring. Birkhimer allowed five hits and walked three, striking out six as the Pioneers finished 25-2.

"Zane Trace is a very good team. They came to play," said Nadolson, whose team was making its sixth regional appearance in seven seasons. "They battled and kept fighting until the end, too."

The Lancers were ranked first in the state poll all season.

Last Saturday's winner will play in a state semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Akron. The state final is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, also in Akron.

Elsewhere, Granville's best season concluded with a 5-1 loss to Dover in a Division II regional semifinal last Thursday at Pickerington Central.

The Blue Aces, who finished 24-5, trailed 5-0 after Emily Mills' home run in the third inning. Courtney Moyer hit a home run in the sixth for Granville's only run.

Overall, Central District teams went 3-5 during the regional semifinals. Also advancing to last Saturday's championships games were Grove City in Division I and Danville in Division IV.