LYNDEN - Lynden's five softball seniors were the first ones to pose for pictures with the Class 2A District Tournament 1/2 trophy. Then the whole team gathered behind home plate while parent after parent flooded the infield to get the perfect angle for a team photo with the tournament's crowning achievement. Finally coach Steve Petersen and assistant coaches Julie Clift and Katie Yoder scrambled to get into frame while the Lions debated which camera to look at.
"Grinning got a little tiring," Lions senior shortstop Kaitlyn Brown said.
They certainly savored the moment.
Not since 1993 has a Lynden softball team claimed a district title, and pitching ace Brooke Bonsen was thrilled her group ended the drought.
In one word Bonsen described what the win meant to her: "Everything," she said.
"All us seniors come together and have one word we focus on, and mine was legacy, so this is definitely setting a legacy," Bonsen said. "I really wanted to make my word come into action, so it's just great."
Lynden (19-4) got the win in signature Lions softball fashion - with strong pitching and even better defense.
Bonsen tossed a complete game four-hit shutout with two strikeouts and no walks, Lynden's defense played sound behind her and senior Destinee Matter launched a home run over the center-field wall to get the Lions' bats going. Together, the team Bonsen loves to describe as "one big family" earned a 5-0 district championship win against Granite Falls Friday evening, May 17, at Bender Fields in Lynden.
"It's just really exciting," said Petersen of Lynden's accomplishment. "It's a culmination of a lot of girls, not just this group. The group that went before them worked really hard to get to this point to where we could come out and compete and win a district championship."
Lynden fans and some Lynden Christian fans, too, filled the bleachers at Field 1, sat and stood behind the back-stop and arranged themselves along the left-field line nearly all the way out to the outfield fence to see the Lions make history.
It was strong performance and one Bonsen said the team "will never forget."
Second baseman Trisha Snydar put Lynden in front early with the first of her two RBI. She drove in Taylor VanDalen, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI, from third with a hard-hit, one-out RBI single into center field.
Followed by a Granite Falls three up, three down top of the second, Matter wasted no time giving the Lions a two-run advantage.
Leading off the inning, Lynden's No. 6 hitter crushed the first pitch she saw from Tigers pitcher Lauren Harding, sending it way over the center-field fence. There was no doubt it was gone leaving her bat.
"That gave us so much energy," Brown said. "We just love it when she hits, because she gets on base most of the time, and she's just our power hitter, and she's awesome at that."
Bonsen and Petersen agreed the homer was a long time coming.
"At practice she's bombing them over the fence," Bonsen said. "We're like, 'OK, she's going to hit one soon.' It was really good for her to hit that, and it definitely affected the whole team."
Bonsen gave up only one hit during innings two, three, four and five, but Harding was equally effective until Brown started a fifth inning Lynden rally with a leadoff double. VanDalen and Bonsen followed with hits to help the Lions take a 4-0 lead.
Brown was 2 for 2 with a double, a walk and two runs scored batting out of the No. 9 hole. She gave Lynden a big lift both with her bat and glove.
"Kaitlyn Brown is a great No. 9 hitter," Petersen said. "She turns the lineup over. Her on-base percentage is really good. It was really nice to see her bat get going for next week."
Granite Falls never posed a threat until the seventh inning when it got runners on second and third with one out. But even then Lynden's defense shined, this time with Bonsen getting the final two outs on grounders back to the pitching circle.
"The one thing about playing behind Brooke is that you better be on your toes," Petersen said, "because there's not going to be people walking. Our girls have pretty much bought into that, and they are aware of that. They're ready, and they're ready to make plays. When we're successful, routine plays are outs. That's what it was today."
After winning a Northwest Conference title and now a district championship, Lynden turns its attention to the Class 2A State Tournament. The two-day event begins Friday, May 24, at Carlon Park in Selah where the Lions are looking to top last year's two-and-out showing.
"I think we just need to come in with a lot of confidence and not be scared about the other teams down south and do what we can do," Bonsen said,"because we are more than capable of competing with those teams."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
LYNDEN 5, GRANITE FALLS 0
Granite Falls 000 000 0 - 0 4 1
Lynden 110 021 x - 5 8 1
WP: Brooke Bonsen. LP: Lauren Harding. Highlights: LYN - Taylor VanDalen 2-4, RBI, R; Trisha Snydar 1-3, 2 RBI; Destinee Matter 1-2, HR, RBI, BB, R; Kaitlyn Brown 2-2, 2B, 2 R, BB. GF - Kelsey Bechtholdt 2-3, SB; Emily Walbon 1-3; Lacey Downs 1-3.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.