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After posting a dominating 15-1 regular season record, the girls of the Lakenheath Lancers softball team are heading down to Germany this week for the DODDS-Europe tournament. According to players and the team's coach, that strong season showing is just a prelude to bigger and better things.

After posting a dominating 15-1 regular season record, the girls of the Lakenheath Lancers softball team are heading down to Germany this week for the DODDS-Europe tournament. According to players and the team's coach, that strong season showing is just a prelude to bigger and better things. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

RAF LAKENHEATH — Sure, the Lady Lancers from the Lakenheath High School softball team could be ecstatic right now. They posted a gaudy 15-1 regular season record and are the reigning conference champs.

Their only loss came against the perennial powerhouse at Ramstein, Germany, and a young Lancer team that was focused on building a foundation this season is instead a force to be reckoned with on the diamond.

But talk to the team and its coach, and it becomes clear that none of that is too important. The Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe softball tournament begins this week, and the Lancers are focused and ready to dominate. No matter where the regular season record stands.

“The season’s just starting,” said Rebecca Groff, a 17-year-old junior and the team’s pitcher. “This is where it matters.”

The fact that the Lancers have beaten nearly every team out there falls by the wayside come tourney time, coach John Gilmore said.

“When you get to a tournament, the records go out the window, and it’s anybody’s game,” Gilmore said last week. “You can go in 16-0 and lose the Europeans in the first games, play two and barbecue.”

Gilmore said he wants his team to limit their mental errors during the tournament. Getting the ball to the right base, completing plays and being ready to steal an extra base when the opportunity presents itself will be key.

“Physical errors you make once in a while,” he said. “Mental errors will kill you.”

But even as the regular season’s results fall by the wayside, Gilmore said the Lancers’ 15-1 showing did not surprise him.

“I’m pleased about it,” he said. “It could have gone either way because they’re so young.”

While the big stage of the tournament can be a bit dazzling, the team needs to stay focused and do what they’ve done all season, said Maggie Pforts, 18, a senior on the team.

“We’ve worked for this all season,” Pforts said. “It’s just another game.”

“A field’s a field to me,” Groff added. “It’s my second home.”

Pforts is graduating and Groff is moving after this year, so the urgency is there to make something happen this week.

“This means a lot,” Groff said. “This is our last chance to take it all.”

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