JEFFERSON - Friday was a busy day for LaBrae senior softball players Jessica Buck, Laura Hall, Taylor Smith and Ashlee Stubbs.
They began their day going to graduation practice in Warren and ended their night walking across the stage to receive their diplomas at W.D. Packard Music Hall.
In between those two things, they travelled to the JAGS Complex in Jefferson and won a softball game.
Behind the 13-strikeout effort from sophomore pitcher Emily Dugan, LaBrae advanced to the team's first district final since 2005 with a 6-0 victory over Gilmour Academy.
"This is the farthest we have ever been and this was so important to us," Hall said. "I'm just so excited right now."
In order for the seniors to have a completely happy graduation day, they needed each of Dugan's 13 strikeouts. The sophomore hurler had a no-hitter through five innings, and allowed two hits - a bunt single in the sixth inning then a double in the seventh. The Lancers finished the season at 9-12.
"She hit her spots today," LaBrae coach Demetra Noble said. "We didn't know much about their batting, so we stayed away from the fat. She did a really good job. The whole team, they're ready to win, they have the desire."
Though Dugan was dominant throughout the game, she had plenty of help from her defense. Somer McCoy had a few dazzling plays at shortstop and Danielle Miracle made a heads-up play in center field to prevent a third hit in the game.
"She's so impressive," Hall, Dugan's catcher, said. "Being a sophomore and being able to carry the whole team on her back until we started hitting ... Especially in a tough game like this, this is the farthest we've ever been. I'm so proud of her, I'm sure everyone is."
The Vikings (16-8-1) struggled a bit offensively, only connecting on six hits. LaBrae's big inning came in the sixth, when they scored four runs. McCoy began the rally with a walk, then advanced to second on a Gilmour fielding error, hit by Buck. The two scored on an RBI double by Kasey Rininger. The Vikings tacked on two more runs with Dugan and Skyler Gilanyi crossing home plate.
Though Noble was a little disappointed at the amount of hits, she was pleased the Vikings battled and eventually found their stride.
"She (Gilmour pitcher Hannah Finotti) was a little slower than we what we've seen, so I had a lot of girls reaching out for hits," Noble said. "Also, we haven't played since Monday. We took some time off, so it takes a while to get back into the groove. I was a little disappointed the first few times around, but we came around. I knew we would eventually."
The bats will need to be working today as the Vikings battle rival Champion for the Division III Jefferson district title at 1 p.m. Champion won its game against Kirtland, 8-6.
During the regular season, the two squads split their meetings. Noble knows it's going to be a grinding game for two teams that are very familiar with each other.
"We've seen them twice, and it's nothing we haven't seen before," Noble said. "We've very confident. It's going to come down to whoever comes to play tomorrow."