Thursday’s 2A Softball: Bearcats Outlast Woodland in Ten Inning Affair
Extra Innings: W.F. West Scores Five in the Final Inning to Reach District Title Game
By Jordan Nailon
W.F. West and Woodland played a perfectly boring and scoreless baseball game for the first four innings here at Borst Park on Thursday night. Then things began to get interesting.
Playing in the 2A District IV softball semifinals, the Bearcats and Beavers traded blows for ten innings before W.F. West wiggled loose for a five spot in the tenth inning to capture a 10-5 victory and a reservation in the District championship game on Friday.
The Bearcats drew first blood in the contest when catcher Paetynn Lopez drove a ball over the left-centerfield wall for a 3-run home run that scored Olivia Dean and McKenna Brinson in the fourth inning. That burst of offense seemed at the time like it would likely be all the Bearcats would need to hang on for the win. As evidence to that notion, the Bearcat faithful would have noted that W.F. West starting pitcher Ashlee Vadala continued to cruise with her fourth 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half of the fifth frame, while Woodland stalwart hurler Olivia Grey appeared irritated by her solitary mistake to that point.
That apparent frustration from Grey even resulted in an error by the Oregon State University bound pitcher in the top of the sixth inning when she fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt from Ava Fugate and then, rushing her throw a bit, sent the ball sailing into right field. However, Grey was able to find her bearings in that inning before W.F. West could scratch out any more runs by coaxing two flyouts and registering a strikeout to put the threat to bed.
That turn of events signaled a temporary turning of the tides, even if W.F. West didn’t know it yet.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning, Woodland whacked their way back into the game with a pair of back-to-back home runs. The first of those moonshots was a three run job that came off the bat of Kelly Sweyer to tie the game up. Then Kaily Christensen stepped to the plate and wasted little time in depositing the first pitch she saw well over the left-centerfield fence.
As Christensen circled the bases, a disembodied voice came wafting in from the outfield, asserting to the Bearcats that, “The game is not over yet!”
Indeed, W.F. West was not finished fighting. With only three outs remaining between the Bearcats and their first loss since April 24, and what would have been only their fourth ill-fated outcome of the season, the heart of their lineup found a way to push the game forward.
Woodland retired the first W.F. West batter in the top of the seventh but then Lopez reached on a walk and Ashlyn Whalen sent a double ricocheting off the centerfield wall. With runners on second and third Vadala then stepped to the plate with a chance to stave off the threat of defeat.
She did not disappoint.
Sitting on a 3-1 count, Vadala got into a fastball offering from Grey and sent it towering toward dead centerfield. Off the bat the ball appeared to have the distance for a trot shot but Woodland center fielder Lila Russell backed all the way up to the fence and hauled in the blast just above her head.
Six more inches and W.F. West would have held a two run lead. As it stood though, the sacrifice fly scored Lopez easily and when the inning concluded with the score tied at 4-4, the Bearcats were all of a sudden re-energized and playing with a purpose as they angled to take their chances in extra innings.
Always keen to seize on an opportunity, Vadala then went back out to pitch in the bottom of the seventh and sent the Beavers back to the dugout in order, again.
Neither team was able to push a run across in the eighth inning, and then the international tie breaker came into play, which places a runner at second base to start each subsequent extra frame. In the top of the ninth inning, Payton Crawford started out as the special runner for W.F. West and advanced to third base on a bunt by Brinson before scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from Grey.
Of course, Woodland was not ready to concede at that point either. Christensen, the special extra innings runner for Beavers in the ninth inning, came around to score on a single up the middle by Maddi Bunger and again tied the game up.
Although they were having alternating bouts of fun in their back and forth affair W.F. West came out in the tenth ready to bury the Beavers for good. Ashlyn Whalen, who set the school record for most home runs in a season this year, started things off by laying down a sacrifice bunt to the third base side of the pitchers circle. The bunt was fielded by Grey but her throw to first couldn’t be corralled and Lopez came into score from her starting station at second base.
That fortuitous break wound up setting the Bearcats off like a match inside a fireworks booth. Vadala came up next and smacked a single to score Whalen, but was then doubled off after a screaming line drive by Annika Waring was snagged by the Beavers second baseman and tossed back to first. That bad break didn’t bother the Bearcats though as Fugate stepped up and wrapped a single, and then Taylor Barker reached on an error. Paytton Crawford then singled to score Fugate before Brinson smacked a double to right field that scored two more runs.
That simultaneous explosion by W.F. West, and implosion by Woodland, left the Bearcats with a 10-5 lead that Vadala preserved perfectly with another 1-2-3 inning in the tenth inning.
Vadala finished the game with 10 strikeouts in ten innings, a hit and a pair of RBIs, but she was overflowing with praise for her teammates after the game, noting that she had never been a part of a game with so many twists and turns before.
“I haven’t. It was awesome though, our team really stayed up the whole time,” said Vadala. “To people who weren’t here, it wasn’t close but I mean, whenever we’re close in a game it just motivates us that much more so I think we just live off of pressure, we thrive off of it.”
W.F. West coach Caty Lieseke, agreed with Vadala’s astute assessment of the Bearcats’ ability to play their best ball when their backs are against the wall.
“We played some tight games earlier on the season and a couple against Tumwater and we just kept saying ‘We know how to play in this situation. We know how to play,’” said Lieseke. “I think that really came through today. I’ve seen the capability for that but seeing them respond today in that way, absolutely.”
With so many things clicking at the right moments for W.F. West on Thursday, Lieseke had a difficult time pinpointing one contributor in the frenzied aftermath of their extra inning win.
“Every kid, even if they’re not doing something statistically, they’re doing something with their words, with their voices, with their volume,” she said. “I love that we have a 3-hole hitter who set the school record for homeruns who set down the bunt that set up the eventual winning run.”
W.F. West’s Lopez finished the game 2 for 4 with a homerun, three RBIs and three runs scored. Brinson was 2 for 4 to go with 2 RBI and a run scored, and Whalen added two hits and a run. Warring, Fugate, and Crawford all added a hit apiece.
W.F. West will face Ridgefield at 6 p.m. on Friday at Fort Borst for the District title.
Rochester Stays Alive With Win Over Hockinson
The Warriors scored four runs in the sixth inning to take a 9-5 lead and allowed three runs in the seventh to hang on for a 9-8 win and keep Rochester’s season alive in a District 4 2A softball tournament elimination game at Fort Borst Park in Centralia on Thursday.
Rochester faces Columbia River at 4 p.m. on Friday in a loser out game at Borst Park. If the Warriors win, they will face the winner of Tumwater-Woodland in a winner-to-state game.
“I was really happy with how well they kept their cool. Hockinson scored all their runs in two big bunches,” Rochester coach Dave Montgomery said. “If this was earlier in the season, we would have lost our cool at least a little bit and that would have allowed the other team to bust it open a little bit on us and we didn’t do that in this game, stayed real even, real cool.”
After opening the day with a 4-0 loss to Woodland, Montgomery was pleased with the Warriors’ response against Hockinson.
“I’m just real proud of how they came out here in Game 2 and bounced back after a really tough Woodland game,” Montgomery said.
Delaney Glazer struck out nine batters in a complete game.
Lexie Trombley was 3 for 4 with three runs and Bella Phelps was 3 for 5 with a double and two runs.
McKenzie Lapraim had two hits including a double and a run and Emily Haury added two hits for the Warriors.
Rochester scored a run in the first and added four runs in the third for a 5-1 lead after three innings.
Hockinson came back in the fifth inning and tied the game at five. Rochester had the big sixth inning to take the lead once again.
The Hawks scored three runs in the seventh, but Glazer was able to strike out the final batter to hold on for the win.
Montgomery noted he believed the team’s experience throughout the season helped his team maintain their composure as Hockinson tried to come from behind.
“We’ve got some seniors, some juniors that have been around the block. They’ve seen this before,” Montgomery said. “They’ve been able to maintain their cool and it’s really neat to see some of those freshman, OK, I made a mistake but next play. They’re letting it go and learning from our previous 21 games.”
With two wins needed to make it to the state tournament, Montgomery hopes the bats will stay hot and lead them to state.
“We haven’t had a lot of close low-scoring games all season. Usually, we’re playing our best ball when we’re scoring our runs in bunches,” Montgomery said. “That’ll be the key for us is just keeping the bats hot and we were able to do that in the second game.”
Bearcats Cruise Past Hawks in Quarterfinals
Annika Waring allowed just two hits against Hockinson as the Bearcats won 8-2 in a District 4 2A softball tournament quarterfinal game at Borst Park in Centralia on Thursday.
Waring struck out four batters and allowed two hits and two runs, both of which were scored in the seventh inning.
Olivia Dean was 3 for 4 at the plate with three runs and Paetynn Lopez was 2 for 4 with two runs.
Ashlee Vadala hit a 3-run home run in the fifth inning for the Bearcats.
W.F. West scored two runs in the first and plated three runs in the fifth and sixth innings to lock up the victory.
The Bearcats moved into the semifinals to face Woodland while Hockinson had to face Rochester in a loser out game.
Woodland Blanks Rochester
Woodland pitcher Olivia Grey struck out 19 of 21 batters as the Beavers won 4-0 in a District 4 2A softball tournament quarterfinal game at Borst Park on Thursday.
Grey allowed two hits, both in the seventh inning with one walk.
Delaney Glazer struck out eight batters in the complete game for Rochester.
Lexie Trombley had a double and Hunter Hahn had the other hit for the Warriors.
Woodland scored two runs in the third inning to take the lead for good and added an insurance run in each the fifth and sixth inning.
Woodland moved into the semifinals to face W.F. West while Rochester moved into the consolation side of the bracket to face Hockinson in a loser out game.
At Borst Park
BEARCATS 10, BEAVERS 5 (10 inn.)
W.F. West 000 030 101 5 — 10 10 1
Woodland 000 004 001 0 — 5 5 5
Batteries: W.F. West — Ashlee Vadala and Paetynn Lopes; Woodland — Liv Grey and Justice Holcomb
WARRIORS 9, HAWKS 8
Rochester 104 004 0 — 9 15 X
Hockinson 001 040 3 — 8 5 X
Batteries: Rochester — Delaney Glazer and Bella Phelps; Hockinson — Abby Runyon and Amber Griffith
BEARCATS 8, HAWKS 2
Hockinson 000 000 2 — 2 2 1
W.F. West 200 033 X — 8 9 1
Batteries: Hockinson — Abby Runyon and Amber Griffith; W.F. West — Annika Waring and Paetynn Lopez
BEAVERS 4, WARRIORS 0
Rochester 000 000 0 — 0 2 4
Woodland 002 011 X — 4 9 0
Batteries: Rochester — Delaney Glazer and Bella Phelps; Woodland — Olivia Grey and Justice Holcomb