In 2011, the Notre Dame High School softball team went where no ND team had gone before.

The Lancers were 10-10 this year, qualifying for the state tournament in softball for the first time ever.

Notre Dame, playing as the No. 20 seed, rode that momentum all the way to the Class S quarterfinals, winning two road state playoff games in the process. The Lancers' ride ultimately ended against fifth-seeded Somers, 7-3 on June 3.

"They just beat us," ND coach John Schack said of Somers.

Schack admitted that simply winning the first eight games to qualify for the Class S tournament was harder than the tournament games themselves. ND had come within a game of the states in 2010, but lost four of its final seven games to finish 7-13.

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"I've been here six years trying to get to states," Schack said. "We had a lot of opportunities to get that eighth win last year."

It appeared the Lancers' would have trouble qualifying for states again this year, too. ND started the year 1-7 and were 3-8 after 11 games.

"We're always a slow starting team," Schack said. "We played a lot of bigger schools in the beginning of the year."

But ND finished 7-2 in its final nine, including battling out a 7-6 win over SWC rival Barlow to clinch the eighth victory and the trip to states.

"Getting those eight wins were not easy," Schack said. "Getting the ninth and 10th wins were a lot easier."

Leading the way for ND was all-state shortstop Nicole Negron and centerfielder Brittany Perez, who led the team in batting average. Pitcher Kayla Frosceno provided consistency throughout the season, as well.

In the playoffs, Schack said his team played its best game in the first round, with no worries or fears with the team playing its first playoff game ever, which showed as ND scrapped out a 3-2 win over No. 13 seed St. Bernard's in 11 innings.

"We played our `A' game," Schack said.

Schack also said that the eight underclassmen on the Lancers' varsity roster this year will now view states as a goal, not as a surprise.

"That's the expectation now," Schack said. "The experience the underclassmen who contributed got is going to help."