If you can’t score, you can’t win, and throughout the 2B District 4 Softball Tournament not one team has been able to score on Ocosta sophomore pitcher Jessie Gilbert.
That now includes the defending district champs and state top-seed Adna (20-3 overall).
Gilbert completed one of the most impressive tournament runs in state softball history by adding another one of the 2B class’ premiere programs to her long list of hitless victims, pitching her fourth consecutive no-hitter to defeat the Pirates 3-0 in the 2B District 4 Tournament championship game on Saturday at Fort Borst Park in Centralia.
Gilbert, who sports a 68 mph fastball (equivalent to 96 mph in baseball) and a variety of effective off-speed pitches, overwhelmed last season’s state runner-up with another dominant performance in the circle. The Wildcats right-hander allowed no runs, no hits and just three walks with 15 strikeouts to secure Ocosta’s first district softball championship in school history.
Gilbert was locked in a pitcher’s duel for the first three innings with Adna ace Ava Simms before taking matters into her own hands at the plate. In the top of the fourth inning, Gilbert smashed the first pitch she saw from Simms over the left-field fence for a solo home run, giving herself all the run support she would need.
Gilbert ran into a little trouble in the bottom of the fourth with two straight walks to lead off the frame, but a Simms lineout to Joanah Rosander at first followed by back-to-back strikeouts of Natalie Loose and Gaby Guard ended the threat.
Ocosta (19-4) committed two errors in the game on back-to-back plays in the fifth inning with one out. But Gilbert got Brooklyn Loose to ground into a fielder’s choice followed by a strikeout of all-state candidate Karlee Von Moss to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Rosander and Gilbert each singled with one out and advanced to third and second, respectively, on one of three Adna errors in the game.
Catcher Noel Cuzdey then drove in Rosander with a fielder’s choice ground ball for a 2-0 lead.
Gilbert then came in to score on an error on a pop up off the bat of Brynn Rasmus to stake Ocosta to a 3-0 lead, which may have well been 100-0 with Gilbert in the circle.
“When we had the one run, I was out there thinking, ‘OK, no one is scoring.’ When we got those other two runs, some of the stress went away,” Gilbert said. “I still knew they had seen me a couple of times through the lineup, so it would be just as hard, but a little more stress went away. If someone did score, it wasn’t like we were in trouble.”
And the emerging state player of the year candidate continued to do what she does best, rolling through the Pirates lineup 1-2-3 in the sixth and punching out Guard and Emerson Nelson to lead off the seventh.
Adna’s Margarite Humphrey stepped to the plate with two outs in the seventh and hit a sharp ground ball to Rosander at first. Rosander got a glove on the ball to knock it down, shuffled to her right to pick up the ball then stepped on first to end the game and give the Wildcats its first softball district title in school history.
“I was all sorts of pumped up,” said Gilbert, who let out a roar along with her teammates after recording the final out. “Adna is a great team and has won this so many years in a row. It felt great being that team to do it.”
Gilbert’s pitching numbers are outstanding over the Wildcats’ run to the title. The right-hander went 4-0 while allowing no runs or hits with 66 strikeouts (16.5 average per game) and eight walks in 27 innings pitched.
“I just zone out the background, the dugouts and everything around me and I just think about me and my catcher,” Gilbert said on her ability to stay in the moment. “I kind of block everything else out and just think this is my game, this is what I’m here for and this is why I’m doing it – to have fun and better myself. I go out there and throw until they are out and no one scores. That’s what I try my best to do.”
“Jessie was just on,” Ocosta head coach Barbara Rasmus said. “She was pitching like a machine. She was lights out.”
“I knew it would be a really tough game,” Gilbert said of her mindset entering the game. “They are an amazing team and have amazing pitching. I just told the girls, ‘Let’s go out there and do it. We deserve it,’ and we did it. … We earned it. We’ve been working our butts off and have been putting in the extra work outside of practice. I couldn’t be more proud of the girls.”
Ocosta will enter the state tournament as the No. 4 seed and will host the winner of No. 12 Cle Elum Roslyn versus No. 5 Northwest Christian (Colbert) at 2 p.m. Friday at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.
Ocosta 000 102 0 – 3 3 2
Adna 000 000 0 – 0 0 3
WP: Gilbert (7 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 3 BB, 15 K). LP: Simms (7 IP, 3 R, ER, 3 H, BB, 15 K).
Leading hitters: Ocosta – Gilbert (2-2, HR, 2 R, RBI); Rosander (1-3, R); Cuzdey (0-3, RBI).
Consolation semifinal: Pe Ell-Willapa Valley 12, Raymond-South Bend 1
3rd/4th-place game: Pe Ell-Willapa Valley 5, Forks 3
Elimination game: Raymond-South Bend 6, Toledo 1
Elimination game: Raymond-South Bend 9, Friday Harbor 5
(Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, Forks and Raymond-South Bend advance to state tournament)
2B State Tournament matchups
No. 4 Ocosta vs. No. 12 Cle Elum-Roslyn/No. 5 Northwest Christian (Colbert) winner, 2 p.m. Friday
No. 11 Kittitas vs. No. 6 Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, 10 a.m. Friday
No. 9 Raymond-South Bend vs. No. 8 Colfax, 10 a.m. Friday