Things are always a bit more chilly by the lake.
After a long and cold April, the weather finally woke up a bit last week with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, and so too did the bats for the Danbury baseball team.
The Lakers were just 8-12 entering last Wednesday's Division IV sectional championship game, but a favorable draw against Old Fort (4-15) saw the Lakers post an 8-2 win for the program's first district appearance since the 2002 season.
Danbury (10-12) will play McComb (15-4) in a district semifinal at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at Findlay's Marathon Diamonds Complex.
"We've really struggled this year with the bats until the last week," second-year coach Adam Steinbrick said. "It's been a struggle for us, so it's kind of surprising we've won what we have.
"But in our last four games, we've been clicking with 50 hits, so that's a good sign. Better late than never. I thought we could be a good hitting team at the beginning of the year, but as warm weather came last week we're hitting the ball. We definitely need that to continue next week."
At times, the Lakers have fielded a lineup of all underclassmen, and most of the time just one senior starts. Coupled with ending a nine-year district drought and 11 current eighth-graders signed up for summer baseball, Steinbrick is hoping the tournament win carries over.
"The sectional win, it's huge," he said. "It's enormous for us. We have 14 kids coming back next year along with the eighth-grade class that will be coming in. With the summer and regular season, those kids will play upwards of 50 games per year with our program.
"It's a young team that keeps continuing to plug away and improve. They are getting better physically and mentally with the game.
Against the Panthers on Wednesday, Cory Schenk will get the start on the mound for the Lakers. Against the top-seeded team in the district, Steinbrick knows his team will need to be near-perfect.
In the win over the Stockaders, Danbury trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth before putting up a six-run inning to pull away.
"They always have good athletes at McComb, and we'll have to play a great, fundamentally strong baseball game," he said. "It comes down to one game, and if we perform like we're capable of both offensively and defensively, good things can happen. We're an aggressive team, but I thought we played real tight the other day with Old Fort and I want them to come out and enjoy it."
The Lakers are just 2-6 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference. For the program to challenge perennial powers such as Toledo Christian and Ottawa Hills, Steinbrick said the team will have to bank on the experience from this season moving forward.
"It will have to be the experience," he said. "We'll have some of the most experience we've ever had at Danbury next season and I would hope they'd come in with confidence and momentum from this sectional and whatever happens here.
"Moving forward, the big thing for us is experience, confidence and momentum."