PWV wins first-ever state title in 2B softball

YAKIMA — The Pe Ell-Willapa Valley softball steamroller finished its journey on Saturday afternoon right where it, and a lot of other people, believed it would end.

Facing Napavine for the fourth time this season, the Titans relied upon their star senior pitcher and her defense behind her before unleashing the offensive power en route to a dominant 10-1 victory in the state 2B softball championship game at Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.

This is the first state championship for the combine and it capped a weekend where the Titans showcased why they were the best small-school softball team in Southwest Washington.

“You never know coming into the tournament; we were on the good side of the draw, staying away from (the other Central 2B League teams), and the kids played well,” PWV head coach Ken Olson said. “It is pretty darn exciting. It is hard to do. It is hard to have a team like this put together. Everyone was fairly confident with the draw, but you never know. You have to go out and play the games.”

Earlier in the day, PWV (24-1) knocked off Ocosta, 28-2, in the state 2B semifinals to move into its first-ever state title game. In the previous two state tournaments, the Titans made it to the semifinal round but went no further.

“The semifinals, we’ve never gone past this point, so we needed to get past this point,” PWV senior ace pitcher Dakota Brooks said. “We were so nervous. We had a few girls who thought we’d blow right by everyone, but I told them, ‘No!’ We didn’t want that mentality. After that, it was pretty good.”

The main turning point of the contest came in the bottom of the third inning. Napavine, which took out fellow district and league rival Toutle Lake in the other semifinal contest, threatened and then ran itself out of a potential rally.

With PWV up 2-0 — compliments of Sidney Pollard’s RBI triple in the first and RBI single in the third — Napavine got one run back on Ada Williams’ RBI double. On the next at-bat with Williams at third, Solana Sanchez laid down a suicide squeeze bunt. However, Williams stopped running when a crowd of four Titans surrounded the ball in front of home plate.

PWV catcher Grace Hodel ran down and tagged Williams for the second out. She then ran toward second base to keep Sanchez from running for an extra base. Hodel’s snap-throw to first to Kamryn Adkins, whose quick tag hit Sanchez’s dive toward the bag, ended the inning.

The Titans were not threatened again by the Tigers. Kamryn Adkins’ RBI groundout made it 3-1 in the fourth before three consecutive RBI extra-base hits — Pollard’s RBI double, Brooks’ RBI triple and Britany Patrick’s RBI triple — made it 6-1 in the fifth.

Katelyn McGough put some power in the scoreboard with a three-run home run to center field in a four-run sixth for a 10-1 lead. All that was left after that were the remaining outs and chants from the dugout and the packed PWV stands.

Abby Hodel caught the final out, a fly ball to center field, to trigger the state title-clinching celebration.

“We weren’t going to let anyone beat us today,” said Pollard, who led the Titans with three hits, including a triple and a double, and three RBI at the plate.

Brooks scattered 10 hits in the contest, struck out six and walked none to win her final high school softball game. She’ll play collegiately at Centralia College this fall.

“This feels great,” Brooks said. “You never think you are going to win it, but we did it.”

Titans 28, Wildcats 2

The meeting between the Pacific 2B and Central 2B league champions went to PWV in the first semifinal contest of the day. It was also a meeting between a state-tournament and a state-tournament debutante in a pressure-packed circumstance.

PWV took advantage of Ocosta’s miscues in the field for a 19-run first inning, which featured 24 batters, nine hits and just two earned runs. The Wildcats shuffled reserves into the game early on, giving their starters a chance to hydrate in the near-90 degree heat before the consolation bracket game that followed.

“To learn how to dance, you have to make it to the dance,” Ocosta head coach Jason Barnum said. “You have to experience it and now we’ll build off of this and learn from this for next time. Pe Ell-Willapa Valley is a solid team. They have our respect. We know the girls. We knew we had to do something special to knock them off today. They came out, stepped up and hats off to them.”

Both teams had their reserves into the contest from the second inning on, with Ocosta fighting back to get two runs in the fourth inning — an RBI single by Lucy Aronson, who scored the other run on a double steal later in the inning.

Patrick and Hodel each drove in five runs, with Pollard adding four RBI, for the Titans.

PWV 101 134 0 — 10 13 0

Napavine 001 000 0 — 1 10 0

Brooks and G. Hodel; Music, Williams (6), Music (6) and Oster.

RBI: PWV — McGough 3, Pollard 3, Brooks 2, Patrick, Kam. Adkins. Napavine — Williams. Three hits: PWV — Pollard. Two hits: PWV — McGough, Kat. Adkins, Brooks, Patrick. Napavine — Thompson, Music, Sanchez, Oster. Home run: PWV — McGough. Triples: PWV — Brooks, Pollard, Patrick. Doubles: PWV — Brooks, Pollard, Patrick. Napavine — Music, Williams.

Winning pitcher — Brooks (six strikeouts, one walk). Losing pitcher — Music (four strikeouts).