It’s a safe bet that when two of the state’s small-school softball powers get together for a pre-district tune-up match, one could expect a close, competitive ballgame.
Nobody saw this coming.
The Montesano Bulldogs, the top-ranked team in the WIAA 1A section, opened up a 12-run lead over 2B power Pe Ell-Willapa Valley yet had to hold on for dear life as the Titans came storming back before Monte eventually escaped with a 13-12 victory.
PWV (16-3 overall, 12-0 Pacific 2B) took the early 1-0 lead after Katelyn McGough led off the game with a home run, her sixth of the season.
But Montesano (15-3, 7-1 Evergreen 1A) responded by loading the bases against PWV starter Kamryn Adkins with three straight singles in the bottom half of the inning. Monte’s Katie Granstrom cracked the goose egg by scoring on a passed ball and the Bulldogs took the lead when Matti Ekerson and Landree Dohrmann scored on an error. Payton Kersker drove Emma Jensen in with a ground out to give Monte the 4-1 lead after one inning of play.
Two innings later, Monte appeared to put the game away by scoring nine runs in the top of the third inning. Kersker, Jessica Stanfield, Ekerson and starting pitcher Lindsay Pace all recorded run-scoring singles for Montesano in an inning that included three runs scoring on two errors in a single play.
“Our defense fell apart that inning. It was all about our defense,” PWV head coach Ken Olson said. “(Monte) was putting the ball in play and we have to make plays and we didn’t. … Our defense just wasn’t there.”
“We know (PWV) is really good and our mentality was to keep putting runs on the board because at any time they can come back on us. They’re a good team,” Montesano starting pitcher Lindsay Pace said.
After PWV scored a run in the fourth to make it a 13-2 game, the Titans, faced with suffering a rare mercy-rule loss, got back into the game with its bats.
Titans third baseman Britney Patrick got things started with a two-run home run over the left field fence that kicked off a 10-run rally. After a Kam Adkins RBI single later in the inning trimmed Monte’s lead to 13-9, Patrick strode to the plate and smacked Pace’s 2-0 pitch for a double that scored Katie and Kam Adkins and put PWV within striking distance at 13-11.
Olivia Matlock followed with an RBI double that scored Patrick cut the deficit to 13-12.
“You get a little adrenalin going and the kids play better and you start to feel it,” Olson said. “We have to believe in ourselves and have confidence even in a bad inning. The key to this game for us was to come back and score 10 runs on the No. 1 team in the state in 1A.”
But in a game that contained 14 unearned runs, both pitchers settled in and the miscues that had plagued both defenses earlier in the game vanished.
Matlock, who relieved Adkins in the third inning, held Monte scoreless the rest of the way, allowing no runs and no hits over the final three innings.
Pace, who went the distance for Monte, also held her opponent scoreless over the final frames after the disastrous fifth inning.
PWV threatened in the top of the sixth when McGough stepped to the plate with two on and two out. The sophomore outfielder hit a sharp line drive that was headed for the left-field fence.
But Ekerson had other ideas. Monte’s left fielder quickly adjusted and leaped to snare McGough’s liner and end the threat.
“The more momentum we have, the better we’ve done,” Lindsay Pace said. “So Matti making that big play really changed the game for us.”
Like many of those in attendance, Montesano head coach Pat Pace tried to make sense of what he saw on Monday.
“Both teams — state caliber teams — it should never get out of hand like this,” Pace quipped. “The experience is, ‘What did we learn from our mistakes?’ That is, we have to stop the bleeding before it gets out of hand like it did. … I’m hoping its a turning point for both teams. They had their bad inning. We had our bad inning and I’m hoping we both learn from this and we don’t see anything like this again unless we’re on the positive side.”
After defeating the No. 3 team in the 2B section, Monte now sets its sights on the state’s top-ranked 2B team, Adna, as the Bulldogs will take on the Pirates at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
PWV has its final district tune-up match against the state’s No.2 1A team, the Elma Eagles, at 4 p.m. on Thursday in Menlo.
Hoquiam 21, Raymond 1
Hoquiam scored 17 runs in the first two innings en route to a 21-1 victory in five innings over Raymond on Monday in Raymond.
The Grizzlies (7-7, 3-4 Evergreen 1A) scored seven runs in the first and 10 in the second bolstered by three-hit games from Abbi Spradlin and Jade Cox.
Maya Jump and Kylee Bagwell each drove in three runs for the Grizzlies.
“It’s been feast or famine with us lately,” said Hoquiam head coach Keith Reynvaan, whose team came off a 20-2 loss to PWV on Friday after pounding Tenino 19-0 the night before.
Hoquiam’s front-line starter, sophomore Tauni Hilliard, picked up the win, allowing an earned run on seven hits with four strikeouts.
“We played pretty good defense behind Tauni,” Reynvaan said as his team played error-free softball.
BOYS PREP SOCCER
1A District IV Tournament
Elma 3, Columbia-White Salmon 2
Elma goalkeeper AJ Hernandez is well-known in 1A Evergreen League soccer circles as a player that can beat teams with his hands.
Turns out he can beat you with his feet too.
Hernandez scored a goal and made two saves in a penalty-kick shootout to give the Eagles a 3-2 victory over Columbia-White Salmon in the opening round of the 1A District IV Tournament on Monday in Elma.
Elma (11-5-1) took the early lead with Manny Hernandez took a ball that was mishandled by the CWS back line and struck a hard shot that rebounded off the CWS keeper and found Elma’s Alexis Bautista, who scored to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
Twelve minutes later, Elma defender Jace Poston played the ball up to Manny Hernandez, who made a touch to his left then sent a shot from the top of the 18-yard box toward the far post for a goal and a 2-0 lead.
Down 2-0 at the half, CWS (8-6-1) took advantage of Elma’s inability to clear the ball deep in its own territory, scoring a goal to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 62nd minute.
“That gave them a lot of energy and excitement,” Elma head coach Carson Seaberg noted. “We just couldn’t settle in and gain back the form we had in the first half.”
CWS scored again in the 72nd minute to tie the game and after two scoreless overtime periods, the game went to a penalty-kick shootout.
In the shootout, Aiden Sayres-Hartman and Manny Hernandez each scored for Elma to draw even with the Bruins at 2-2.
On CWS’s third shot, AJ Hernandez guessed correctly, diving to his right to make the stop and give Elma the 3-2 shootout lead.
AJ then lined up for a penalty kick of his own and promptly buried a hard shot under the crossbar to give Elma the 4-2 lead.
The all-league senior goalkeeper then stopped his second shot of the shootout and was followed by a Cannon Seaberg penalty-kick conversion to give Elma the dramatic victory.
“I enjoyed watching them go,” Coach Seaberg said after his team jubilantly rushed the field after the win. “The kids were excited. We’d like to not finish them (in a PK shootout), … It’s a great way to win, but a tough one to swallow when you lose.”
Toldeo 3, Montesano 0
A shorthanded Montesano squad was bounced to the consolation bracket of the District IV Tournament with a 3-0 loss to Toldeo on Monday.
The Bulldogs (8-9 overall) struggled to generate chances against Toledo (13-0-4) in the first half and surrendered a goal to the Indians off of a corner kick in the 10th minute.
With the game still 1-0 at the half, Monte looked for the equalizer early in the second stanza.
“In the second half, we put more pressure on them and we had some more chances,” Montesano head coach Rick Denholm said. “Luis Muro had a really good chance to score inside the 18, but the keeper made a nice save.”
Monte searched in vain for the game-tying goal and ended up giving up another goal set up by a long throw in into the box in the 60th minute
The Indians added one more goal three minutes later and the Bulldogs pulled some of their injured starters back off the field to rest them for the next playoff game.
Monte will now have to fight its way out of the consolation bracket with a game against Columbia-White Salmon at Seaton Catholic High School in Vancouver.
Kick off is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
— Ryan Sparks, Grays Harbor News Group
Boys Prep Soccer
1A District IV Tournament
Seton Catholic 5, Hoquiam 1