Ocosta’s historic state run ends in Yakima

YAKIMA — A historic season on the field for Ocosta softball came to a rough finish in Yakima on Saturday, but not without a fight.

Following a blowout loss to the eventual state champions in the semifinals, the Wildcats had to quickly return to the field in the consolation bracket and were defeated by Northwest Christian-Colbert, 8-6, in the state 2B softball tournament at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.

Ocosta’s season, which included a first-ever Pacific 2B League title and state-tournament berth, came to an end at 24-5.

“I was really happy with the way the girls performed in the heat,” Ocosta head coach Jason Barnum said. “They acclimated themselves quite well. Where we’re at, we get 100 inches of rain a year, so to play like this in the heat is a credit to the girls. This is a good group, a super-young group and we believe we’ll have a chance next year.”

Playing in the near-90 degree heat, Ocosta had to turn around after a 20-minute break following its 28-2 loss to Pe Ell-Willapa Valley in the semifinals. The Wildcats tried to help themselves by resting their starters midway through the PWV contest to prepare for the winner-to-place, loser-out game.

“The idea was to get the starters out of the heat, get them re-hydrated and ready for this game,” coach Barnum said. “I thought we were ready for the game, but we had a couple of bobbles. They found the holes with key hits.”

It took Ocosta the first two innings to find its rhythm again on the field. At that time, NWC took a 3-0 lead by bunting and aggressive baserunning around the infield on the Wildcats. The damage could have been worse in the second inning before Ocosta’s defense took advantage of the Crusaders’ aggressiveness on the basepaths to end the threat.

Sophomore shortstop Kaylee Barnum came up with a clutch hit, a two-out, two-run triple down the right-field line to get Ocosta on the scoreboard in the third. Before Barnum’s hit, the Wildcats struggled to figure out NWC’s pitcher, Mattea Nelson, whose changeup and off-speed pitches had them swinging at air to start.

Barnum tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fifth with an RBI single, but Ocosta couldn’t capitalize on the early hits. It would come back to hurt in the bottom of the inning. NWC retook the lead with a three-run frame, parlaying its small-ball offense, a Wildcat infield miscue and clutch hits into runs.

Ocosta kept battling back, adding an RBI single from Adrianna Huerta in the sixth at 6-4, but NWC got two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Wildcats got RBI hits from Kaylee Barnum and Erika Snider in the seventh to keep the rally and the season alive, but time and innings ran out.

Ocosta 002 011 2 — 6 9 2 NWC 120 032 x — 8 13 3

Snider and Raffelson; Nelson and Tibbetts.

RBI: Ocosta — Barnum 4, Er. Snider, Huerta. NWC — Nelson 2, Tibbetts, J. Frampton 2, Iverson, Wright. Three hits: Ocosta — Barnum. NWC — Nelson. Two hits: Ocosta — Em. Snider, Er. Snider. NWC — Tibbetts, Frey, Ostrom. Triples: Ocosta — Barnum 2. NWC — Nelson 2. Doubles: Ocosta — Er. Snider. NWC — Frey.

Winning pitcher — Nelson (eight strikeouts, one walk). Losing pitcher — Snider (five strikeouts).