RICHLAND – A bittersweet state experience for two East County softball teams ended with two state trophies but no championship.
Elma and Montesano placed second and third, respectively, in the state 1A tournament that concluded Saturday at Richland’s Columbia Playfields.
Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls unleashed a 20-hit attack to thwart Elma’s title bid, 19-9 in six innings, in the championship game Saturday afternoon. The Eagles had downed Chewelah, 6-1, in a semifinal that morning.
Montesano, meanwhile, concluded a two-day odyssey through the consolation bracket by taking third with an eight-inning win over district rival Castle Rock, 7-6. The Bulldogs had previously eliminated Deer Park, 11-6, and Chewelah, 9-2.
Despite falling short of a championship, the Eagles (20-7) and Bulldogs (25-4) could take away more positives than negatives for the weekend.
An all-underclass team widely projected to be a year away from title contention, Elma was in peak form until the championship game.
“We had a great weekend,” Eagle coach Roger Elliott summarized. “The girls just came together this week. It’s a good group of girls. Next year, we’ll have that (state) experience.”
After a miserable start to the weekend that included a bus breakdown near White Pass on Thursday and a stunning opening-round loss to Chewelah on Friday morning, Montesano regrouped to win five straight.
“This is the first team I’ve had a team that lost its first (state) game and battled back to place,” veteran Monte coach Pat Pace said. “My hat’s off to these girls.”
Perhaps the least heralded of the semifinalists (it had lost to Montesano, 9-0, in a non-leaguer in early April), Lakeside broke Southwest Washington’s stranglehold on this tournament. Aside from Connell, which three-peated in 2011-13, the Spokane-area school is the first 1A champion since 2004 to hail from outside District IV.
1A State Championship: Lakeside 19, Elma 9
Elma can take little solace in the realization that this contest was far more competitive than the score indicated.
Although outhit 20-7, Elma’s Eagles (Lakeside has the same mascot) sandwiched a few key hits around an abundance of walks to lead for much of the first four innings,
Quin Mikel’s bases-clearing double in the second produced a 4-1 advantage, After Lakeside regained the lead, Kali Rambo’s two-run double followed by a dropped infield fly off the bat of Molly Johnston in the fourth put Elma back on top, 7-6
But Elma’s Eagles were unable to halt Lakeside’s hit parade, The Eastern Washington crew batted around in three different innings, with seven players collecting multiple hits.
Mikel had pitched brilliantly in the tournament but may well have been running on fumes by the title contest (she had thrown all but one-third of an inning in the tourney), After Katelynn Clark’s RBI double in the Lakeside fourth tied it, she was briefly replaced by Destry Dineen.
Three walks and a hit batter later, Mikel returned to the circle, but Lakeside wound up scoring five runs in the frame to grab an 11-7 lead.
Elma was still within striking distance at 13-9 after Chloe Velasco’s double scored Dineen from first in the top of the sixth.
But Lakeside ripped out seven more hits in its half of the same frame – an inning prolonged by three errors and a couple of questionable calls that went against Elma. Saelor Dvorak’s fourth hit of the game, a bases-loaded single, ended the contest via the 10-run mercy rule.
“We had opportunities, but we didn’t clutch up,” Elliott said. “We had too many errors (five) and we got some bad calls.”
Rambo had two hits for Elma. Lakeside’s Charbonneau blasted a three-run homer.
Hard-throwing right-hander Shelby Claassen, who walked six but struck out 11, was the winning pitcher.
1A State Semifinal: Elma 6, Chewelah 1
Mikel pitched a five-hitter, striking out seven and not allowing a walk, in Elma’s semifinal victory. She was backed by outstanding defense, as the Eagles committed only one error.
Up 2-1 at the time, the Eagles settled matters with a four-run fifth highlighted by Olivia Cain’s three-run double. Johnston, Dineen and Kassedy Olson had singled earlier in the inning.
Olson, Johnston and Cain had two hits apiece for the Eagles.
Montesano 7, Castle Rock 6 (8 innings)
Lindsay Pace’s RBI single in the eighth proved the difference as the Bulldogs edged Castle Rock in a rematch of the District IV championship game a week earlier.
After Pace’s hit up the middle brought in Abi Parkin with the go-ahead run, Monte pitcher Samantha Stanfield worked out of a jam in Castle Rock’s half of the eighth.
With two on and two out, Kaylee Cline sent a tricky hopper to second. The ball glanced off second baseman Emma Jensen but rolled to shortstop Katie Granstrom, who stepped on second for the game-ending force.
Matti Ekerson delivered three hits and Pace, Parkin, Granstrom and Jensen two apiece for the Bulldogs.
1A State 3rd/4th Place Game: Montesano 7, Castle Rock 6 (8 Inn.)
Lindsay Pace’s single in the top of the eighth inning scored Abi Parkin with what turned out to be the game-winning run as the Bulldogs defeated Castle Rock, 7-6, in the 1A State Championship 3rd/4th place game.
Pace played a part in Monte’s offense the entire game, opening the scoring with an RBI triple in the first inning followed by crossing the plate on Matti Ekerson’s single in the second inning to give the Bulldogs a 6-2 advantage.
Castle Rock, which lost a one-run game to Monte a week earlier in the 1A District IV title game, tied the game in the sixth when Trinity Naugle, who was aboard with a one-out double, scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kerianne Cline.
But errors hurt the Comets in the eighth. Monte’s Abi Parker reached and advanced to second on back-to-back errors by Castle Rock third baseman Zoe Naugle to lead off the inning. One batter later, Pace singled to score Parker.
Montesano starter Samantha Stanfield did the rest, ending the Comets’ two-on, one-out threat in the bottom of the eighth with a strikeout of Logann Golden and enducing a fielder’s-choice ground out from Cline to end the game.
After a first-round, upset loss to Chewelah, Monte won its final five games of the tournament — outscoring its opponents 43-16 in the process.
1A State Consolation Semis: Montesano 9, Chewelah 2
Stanfield tossed a five-hitter and struck out nine as Monte emphatically gained a measure of revenge for its tourney-opening loss.
Jensen and Parkin, who both enjoyed excellent tournaments, led the Bulldog attack with three hits apiece.
1A State Consolation: Montesano 11, Deer Park 6
The first seven Bulldogs reached base safely in a seven-run first inning.
Seemingly headed for a mercy-rule victory, Monte saw Deer Park rally to within two (8-6) in the fifth, The Bulldogs, however, sealed the deal with an unearned run in the sixth and a pair of markers in the seventh.
Winning pitcher Pace (who had relief help from Stanfield) helped her own cause with a triple, double and three RBIs. Parkin had three hits and Peyton Poler, Jensen and Ekerson two each.
“Winning the league and district championships and placing third at state, I’d have to say this season was a true success,” Coach Pace concluded. “It shows the leadership of the seniors and the underclassmen who supported them.”