SEDRO-WOOLLEY - Mount Baker's softball team needed to reflect after its last meeting against Blaine. The Mountaineers used the Borderites to clinch their spot in the Class 1A Tri-District Tournament this time.
A lot can change in a week in a half.
Left reeling after a five-run, shutout loss that capped a four-game losing skid April 30 against Blaine, Baker coach Ron Lepper said his Mountaineers "got back to basics."
"I think after the Blaine game actually, when we just didn't come out with any energy and no enthusiasm, we just talked about getting back to basics and playing hard," Lepper said. "We came back out and got a couple wins ... Even though we didn't look particularly good against them a couple weeks ago, we knew if we stayed inside ourselves and not try to do anything we're not capable of, we'd have a chance."
The Mountaineers showed no resemblance of a team trying to find itself during their 4-1 Class 1A Northwest District semifinal win against Blaine Friday, May 10, at Janicki Playfields in Sedro-Woolley.
The win capped back-to-back wins for No. 4-seeded Baker, who beat No. 5 seed South Whidbey 13-3 during an opening-round district game Friday. The Mountaineers now advance to the Northwest District title game at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Janicki Playfields where they'll play No. 3 seed Nooksack Valley, which earned a 17-3 win against No. 6 seed Meridian and a dramatic 4-3 extra-innings win against No. 7 seed Lynden Christian. The winner of the title game earns an automatic berth to the Class 1A State Tournament.
Mount Baker ace Aleks Toivola hit her spots all afternoon, keeping strong-hitting Blaine off-balance. Toivola gave up one unearned run. She tossed all seven innings and only gave up five hits. She got plenty of help from shortstop Megan Young, who made several fine plays, and the Mountaineers' outfielders caught everything hit their way.
"They swung at all the high stuff," Toivola said, "and there were a lot of pop ups, but our outfielders did great with that. Then, a lot of the outside stuff they went for. I was just throwing it where they were going to swing."
She also helped herself at the plate.
Toivola drove in Lacey Postlewait and Tawni Galbraith with a base hit up the middle in the top of the fifth after Emily Yost put the Mountaineers in front 1-0 with a RBI double in the top of the first.
Blaine's Selena Pai reached third on an error by Mount Baker's right fielder on what would have been a single in the bottom of the sixth, and the Borderites were able to push her across on an Ashley Bolick fielder's choice to cut the Mountaineers' lead to 3-1.
Mount Baker added an unearned run in the seventh to extend its lead back to three runs, and Blaine couldn't rally in the bottom half of the seventh.
"I think we just battled," Lepper said. "As the game went on, we were able to put some runs on the board. It's always nice to get a run in that first inning to take a little bit of the edge off."
The No. 1-seeded Borderites will face No. 2 seed Coupeville in a loser-out, winner-to-tri-districts game at noon Saturday, May 11, at Janicki Playfields.
"We all knew they were coming for us," Bolick said of Mount Baker," because we beat them 5-0, so they came out on top, I guess."
Moments after Baker sewed up its spot in the district title game, Nooksack Valley's Laura Gelwicks hit a walk-off double to lift the Pioneers to a 4-3 eighth-inning win against Lynden Christian, which upset Coupeville 9-2 in its opening-round game.
"Laura Gelwicks had two of our four RBIs and scored a run on a passed balls. She was real heads-up on," Nooksack Valley coach Tom Harmon said of his senior infielder. "If it was hockey, she'd get the player of the game."
Harmon called the game a "classic Nooksack Valley-Lynden Christian matchup." He did so for good reason.
The Pioneers beat LC 7-6 at Bender Fields during the two team's regular-season finale Wednesday, May 8.
Lynden Christian took a 2-0 lead Friday before Nooksack Valley battled back to go in front 3-2 in the top of the fourth, but the Lyncs tied the game in the top of the seventh, sending it into extras.
"I think the big thing that was really a shot in the arm for us was we had burned one of our pitchers and the other got hurt," Harmon explained. "That was the first time, (freshman Olivia Berkan) threw. She maybe threw a couple varsity innings against Bellingham, but for her to come in in the top of the eighth and hold them, she did a great job, and the team played great defense behind us."
Meridian was one of five Whatcom County teams who went two-and-out Friday, ending its season. Following the Trojans' double-digit loss to Nooksack Valley, Meridian lost a heartbreaker 5-4 to Coupeville.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
NOOKSACK VALLEY 17, MERIDIAN 3 (5)
Meridian 000 30 - 3 8 0
Nooksack Valley (12)50 2x - 17 11 0
Highlights: NV: McKinna Larson 2-4, Kayla Struiksma 2-3. Mer: Kendra Holmes 3-3, Madeline Gray 1-3, Angela Roderick 1-3.
MOUNT BAKER 13, SOUTH WHIDBEY 3 (5)
South Whidbey 000 12 - 3 7 0
Mount Baker 342 22 - 13 13 0
WP: Aleks Toivola. LP: N/A. Highlights: MB: Lacey Postlewait 2-4, 2 RBI; Megan Young 2-3, 2 RBI; Emily Brandland 2-3
NOOKSACK VALLEY 4, LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 3 (8)
Lynden Christian 020 000 10 - 3 5 2
Nooksack Valley 001 200 00 - 0 0 0
Highlights: NV: Laura Gelwicks 3-4, 2 2B, GW RBI, R; Lindsay Hayes 3-3, R. LC: Shelby Brown 1-4, R; Livi Vander Griend 1-4, R.
MOUNT BAKER 4, BLAINE 1
Mount Baker 100 020 1 - 4 6 1
Blaine 000 001 0 - 1 5 3
WP: Aleks Toivola. LP: Ashley Bolick. Highlights: MB: Aleks Toivola 2-3, 2 RBI; Tawni Galbraith 2-3; Blaine: Ashley Bolick 1-2, RBI, Selena Pai 1-2.
COUPEVILLE 5, MERIDIAN 4
Meridian 400 000 0 - 4 8 3
Coupeville 000 050 x - 5 6 1
WP: n/a (x-x). LP: Juliana Magliano (x-x). Highlights: Meridian: Veenstra 2-4; Magliano 1-3, 2 RBI
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 2, COUPEVILLE 0
LC 000 010 1 - 2 4 0
Coupeville 000 000 0 - 0 2 1
WP: Bridget Kruck . LP: Makayla Bailey. Highlights: LC: Lexi Vander Griend 2-3; Bridget Kruck 2-3
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.