Ocosta clinches first state 2B softball tournament berth in school history

CENTRALIA — The pure joy and happiness that spilled out of the Ocosta dugout onto the field when Krystal Morales tossed the ball to Katie Campos at first base for the final out was volcanic — it spilled out over everyone rooting for Ocosta at Borst Park on Saturday.

In a season of firsts, the Wildcats secured the one thing they’ve never done — qualified for the state 2B softball championship tournament — by beating Adna for the first time, 6-2, in a District IV 2B tournament seeding game.

Ocosta (22-3 overall) took on Toutle Lake in a third-fourth place seeding game and fell, 7-4, to finish fourth overall. The brackets for the state 2B tournament will be available online Sunday afternoon.

“We are going to state,” Ocosta head coach Jason Barnum said. “Looking at all of the work the girls have put in, this is amazing. From where we started to where we are today, to beat a great program like Adna is a big statement for us. The girls believed. If we had to go there, we might as well hit the ball. That’s what we do best.”

Next week, the Pacific 2B League champions Ocosta will prepare for the state 2B tourmament at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima for the two-day event on Friday and Saturday. It will be the first time the Wildcats, who won the league title and won two district games in one season for the first time in school history, will be at the tournament.

“It was always one of my dreams to walk around school, wearing my letterman’s jacket and having that big state patch on it; now, I can say that will come true,” Ocosta shortstop Kaylee Barnum, who slugged four home runs during the tournament, said. “It was vital to get the first couple of runs on them,” she added. “It got them down in the dumps.”

Wildcats 6, Pirates 2

This was the first of two seeding games for both Ocosta and Adna, with a win securing a state berth in the process. The Wildcats got the jump first on the Pirates, the second-place finisher in the Central 2B League.

Leading off the second inning, catcher Kristi Raffelson found her pitch and slugged a solo home run over the left-field fence for a 1-0 Ocosta lead. It was just what the Wildcats were looking for against Adna starter Jenikka Poppe.

“The pitch was low and down the middle,” Raffelson said. “I heard the catcher behind me tell the pitcher to keep it low. At times, the low pitch is right at my sweet spot (of my swing). I was happy to hear that. I feel like that is what got the team fired up. It got them thinking they can hit off this pitcher, too.”

“We watched Adna (on Thursday night) and we saw that their pitcher liked to throw the ball down the middle to get a first-pitch strike,” coach Barnum added. “The pitch didn’t move around a lot, so our game plan was to jump on that first-pitch strike, blow that pitch up. It broke the ice and it showed we could hit her.”

Ocosta wasn’t done. With two outs, the Wildcats got four more bits of the candy bar — an RBI single by Evalyn Marsh, a two-run triple by Kaylee Barnum and an RBI single by Erika Snider — for a momentum-grabbing 5-0 lead.

Adna, which ran itself out of a potentially big first inning, went quietly in the next four innings. Kiana Battiste’s two-out RBI single in the third put Ocosta up 6-0 and thoughts of the state tournament were beginning to form.

In the circle, Erika Snider kept Adna off-balanced and hitting grounders instead of big flies and extra-base hits. On the other side, Poppe got her rhythm back and eliminated the final 12 Ocosta batters she faced in the final four innings.

“We were really working in the low area to get the ground balls,” Snider said. “We have a good shortstop and we try to go inside sometimes so she can get some plays. If they were too far out of the box then we just went straight outside.”

In the fifth, Snider stranded a lead-off single. In the sixth, a two-out infield error allowed the Pirates to get onto the scoreboard at 6-1. In the seventh, with the game nearly out of reach, Adna got a lead-off double and took advantage for a run.

Once Morales got the grounder to second base tossed over to Campos at first base for the final out, the celebration began.

Ducks 7, Wildcats 4

A five-run fifth inning by Toutle Lake was the difference in this third-fourth place seeding game at Borst Park.

The Ducks trailed 4-2 after 4 1/2 innings before they got to Wildcats’ starter Snider for five runs.

“We had them locked down until the fifth,” coach Barnum said. “They played a lot of small ball, put the ball in the dirt and made us make the plays. They are a very good softball team.”

Battiste led Ocosta with two hits and two RBI at the plate. Snider finished with five strikeouts and one walk in the loss.

Ocosta 051 000 0 — 6 9 3

Adna 000 001 1 — 2 8 1

Er. Snider and Raffelson; Poppe and Glover.

RBI: Ocosta — Ev. Marsh, Battiste, Barnum 2, Er. Snider, Raffelson. Adna — Bower, Glover. Three hits: Adna — Pine. Two hits: Ocosta — Ev. Marsh, Battiste, Barnum. Home run: Ocosta — Raffelson. Triple: Ocosta — Barnum. Double: Adna — Hammer.

Winning pitcher — Er. Snider (three strikeouts). Losing pitcher — Poppe (five strikeouts, one walk).

Ocosta 200 200 0 — 4 10 2

Toutle Lake 100 150 x — 7 13 2

Er. Snider and Raffelson; Lee and Redmill.

RBI: Ocosta — Battiste 2, Barnum. Toutle Lake — Levang, Deer, Lee 2, Studebaker. Four hits: Toutle Lake — Levang. Two hits: Ocosta — Marsh, Battiste, Barnum, Morales. Toutle Lake — Deer, Lee, Studebaker. Triple: Toutle Lake — Hockett. Doubles: Ocosta — Barnum. Toutle Lake — Lee, Levang, Studebaker, Redmill.

Winning pitcher — Lee (three strikeouts). Losing pitcher — Er. Snider (five strikeouts, one walk).