Gardner's home run not enough to keep Nooksack softball alive

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 26, 2013 

The Nooksack Valley softball team bowed out in the Class 1A State Championships on Friday, May 24, but it wasn't without a dramatic sending off.

After defeating Elma in the first round, 2-1, and losing to Lakeside in the second round, 3-1, the Pioneers found themselves just one out away from being eliminated by Hoquiam in the consolation bracket.

Trailing 5-3 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Nooksack's Chloe Gardner stepped to the plate with a runner on and blasted a two-run home run to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

"It doesn't get much more climactic than that," Nooksack Valley coach Tom Harmon said in a phone interview.

While Kayla Struiksma couldn't hold off Hoquiam from scoring two in the top of the eighth, Nooksack looked primed to stage yet another comeback after Alexis Pike hit a lead-off solo home run to bring the game within one. But alas, that was as close as the Pioneers would get.

"We just ended up coming a little short," Harmon said. "We would crawl back out of a hole, and then they would get ahead of us."

Despite Nooksack's offense only managing one hit in its first-round game against Elma, the Pioneers were able to play a bit of small ball and manufacture their two runs.

McKinna Larson scored the first run of the game in the third by drawing a walk, stealing second, being advanced over to third on a fielders choice and inevitably scoring off a passed ball.

"I was talking to her, 'Hey, get ready," Harmon said after he noticed the pitcher was struggling with her command. "Larson beelined it to home."

The second run of the game was scored in similar fashion.

Nooksack was stymied in the second-round matchup against Lakeside, falling 3-1 after the Lions scored all three of their runs on the fourth off Pike. Haley Hunt went 3 for 3 in the loss, and Gardner's RBI double in the fifth was Nooksack's lone run.

NOOKSACK VALLEY 2, ELMA 1

Elma 000 001 0 - 1 3 5

Nooksack Valley 001 010 0 - 2 1 0

WP: Alexis Pike (5-1). LP: Goldsmith (NA). Highlights: NV: Brittney Allen 1-3.

LAKESIDE 3, NOOKSACK VALLEY1

Nooksack Valley 000 010 0 - 1 8 4

Lakeside 000 300 0 - 3 7 0

WP: Tiffany (x-x). LP: Alexis Pike (5-2). Highlights: NV: Haley Hunt 3-3 Chloe Gardner 1-4 2B RBI.

HOQUIAM 7, NOOKSACK VALLEY 6

Hoquiam 110 011 12 - 7 16 1

Nooksack Valley 101 010 2 1- 6 9 3

WP: Madison (x-x). LP: Kayla Struiksma (12-8). Highlights: NV: McKinna Larson 2-5 2 2B, Chloe Gardner 2-4 2B HR 3RBI, Alexis Pike 2-2 HR RBI.

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