Baker beat LC to win district title game

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 17, 2014 

SEDRO-WOOLLEY - There's nothing wrong with Emily Yost's wrists now.

The power-hitting junior, who missed Mount Baker's first 11 softball games after being sidelined near the end of basketball season with a broken wrist, displayed her strength with a memorable hit that assured the Mountaineers a spot in the Class 1A State Tournament.

Yost's run-scoring double in the bottom of the eighth inning ended top-seeded Baker's 1-0 win over sixth-seeded Lynden Christian in a classic Northwest District Tournament title game on Saturday, May 17, before a large, enthralled crowd at Janicki Fields.

How captivating was this pitching struggle between Baker's Aleks Toivola and LC's Kasey Luna?

Listen to LC coach Mitch Moorlag, whose fast-improving team will take a high seed behind Baker into the tri-district Tournament on May 24 at Janicki:

"Words can't describe how much fun the girls, the coaches and the fans of both teams had in that great game and how proud I am of our team," he said. "Baker beat us twice by 10 runs earlier this season, so we're a pretty confident group right now."

All four Whatcom County teams in action Saturday qualified for tri-district and the championship Mounties advanced directly to the tri-district title game.

Blaine's Lexi McElwain, Hanna Kiele and Lyric Berry combined to allow only three hits as the Borderites overwhelmed Friday Harbor 10-0 and Coupeville 20-4 to finish third.

After Nooksack Valley suffered a 3-2 loss to Coupeville in the consolation semifinals, senior Kayla Struiksma pitched her first no-hitter in a 10-0 six-inning win over Friday Harbor to take fifth place under loser-out pressure.

Luna, one of LC's seven senior starters, scattered seven singles against Baker (17-6) through seven innings. Clean-up hitter Emma Lallas opened the eighth with the quick Mounties' fourth infield single and Yost followed with a double to the right-center fence, allowing Lallas to race home from first base. Moorlag pointed out it was only the second run off Luna in a 21-inning tournament stretch.

"That definitely was the most timely hit I've ever had," said Yost, who went 3 for 4. She confirmed that her double -- Baker's only extra-base hit -- was her first walk-off hit.

"What means so much for all of us is that we finally got a district title after losing the final game both of the last two years," Yost said.

Yost, Baker's third baseman, said Toivola pitched superbly.

"She had her drop balls and change-ups working so well along with her fastball," Yost said.

This is Baker coach Ron Lepper's fourth state tournament qualifying team and his first district champion.

"I'm proud of how we re-focused right away after a tough third inning (in which the Mounties had an apparent run called back), said Lepper, who recalled a 14-inning district title loss a decade ago in his first season, along with a 9-inning defeat two years ago and last year's district title setback to Nooksack.

"We played without an error today," said the coach, pointing out how much support the entire team gave Toivola, who allowed four hits (two to Luna) and did not issue a walk until the seventh. Toivola struck out two while relying on her defense. Baker first baseman Heidi Chambers made an unassisted double play on a liner by Jenah Korthius to end the eighth after a single by LC's Kristen Zoerink.

Luna escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the third. Chambers seemed to have scored on a grounder by Lacey Postlewait, but all three runners were sent back when Postlewait was ruled to have batted out of the box. Luna calmly got the next two outs.

LC (12-10) received a fielding gem when catcher Lexi Holleman scooted to the fence to grab a tough foul pop by Chambers with two runners on base

On a day when some forecasts called for a 60 percent chance of rain, the only showers were of base hits. Whatcom County's four tri-district qualifiers combined for 123 runs at district.

"What means so much is how much progress we've made," Blaine coach Alisa Burk said. "Our four seniors mean so much with their support. They've been with us since we were 1-19 in my first season when they were freshmen. Wow, today we came out with all guns blazing. Our girls were really ready."

Blaine (14-10) bombarded Friday Harbor and Coupeville and finished with 22 hits, including 4 for 6 with five RBI by sophomore Riley Miller, and 4 for 9 with four RBI by Elwain. Mikayla Deming drove in three runs against Friday Harbor and Berry went 3 for 4 against Coupeville.

Senior shortstop Baylee Foster survived a scary collision with a Blaine teammate in the first game. She gutted out the second game and had four RBI.

Nooksack Valley's Struiksma, one of three seniors for the Pioneers (10-13), received plenty of support in her no-hitter against Friday Harbor with three RBI from Lindsay Hayes, 3 for 3 with 2 RBI by Alexis Pike, and two hits and two RBI apiece from Brianna Turner and Cassidy Zylstra, who had a two-run double.

"I was just on," said Struiksma, a three-year starter. "It's up there with my best pitching. What means so much is just knowing we will advance." The Pioneers will have a tri-district pigtail game on Wednesday, May 21, for the right to advance to the rest of the field on May 24.

The Pioneers took out their frustrations after leaving 13 runners on base in their 3-2 loss to Coupeville. Hayes, who had two hits, hit a sizzling, bases-loaded line shot but Coupeville first baseman Hailey Hammer somehow grabbed the ball and turned an unassisted double play.

Turner went 3 for 4 with two doubles and drove in the first run. Turner scored the second run in the last ining after a single by Chloe Gardner and a sacrifice fly by Struiksma, but Coupeville right fielder Monica Vidoni then unleashed a throw that gunned down Gardner at third base for the game-ending out.

"Our kids pitched well all day and we played pretty good defense," said Nooksack coach Tom Harmon. "They were looking for a little personal redemption in the second game. We have wonderful kids. They haven't figured out how good we are and I can't wait to see them figure that out."

CLASS 1A DISTRICT TOURNAMENT

CHAMPIONSHIP

Lynden Christian 000 000 00 - 0 4 3

Mount Baker 000 000 01 - 1 9 0

WP -- Aleks Toivola. LP -- Kasey Luna. Highlights -- LC: Kasey Luna 2-3, Livi Vander Griend 1-3, Kristen Zoerink 1-3. Baker: Emily Yost 3-4, 2B, RBI; Emma Lallas 2-4, R; Lacey Postlewait 1-3; Emily Brandland 1-3; Heidi Chambers 1-3; Jordan Miles 1-3.

THIRD PLACE

Blaine 184 16 - 20 15 1

Coupeville 101 11 - 4 2 8

WP -- Lexi McElwain. LP -- MaKayla Bailey. Highlights -- Blaine: Lyric Berry 3-4, RBI; Lexi Greguski 1-3; Riley Miller 3-4, 3 RBI, 3 R; Lexi McElwain 3-5, 3 RBI; Baylee Foster 2-5, 4 RBI; Mikayla Deming 1-5, 2 RBI; Selena Rogers-Pai 2-5, 2 RBI; Nicole Ortega RBI.

FIFTH PLACE

Friday Harbor 000 000 - 0 0 4

Nooksack Valley 034 201 - 10 10 1

WP -- Kayla Struiksma. Highlights -- Nooksack: Lindsay Hayes 1-3, 3 RBI; Brianna Turner 2-3, RBI; Cassidy Zylstra 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Alexis Pike 3-3, 2 RBI.

CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS

Friday Harbor 000 00 - 0 1 2

Blaine 111 61 - 10 7 1

WP -- Hanna Kiele. LP -- Kaitlyn Domenech. Highlights -- Blaine: Lexi Greguski 2-3, RBI; Riley Miller 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Lexi McElwain 1-4, 2B, RBI; Mikayla Deming 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Daphne Pugh 1-1.

Nooksack Valley 001 000 1 - 2 10 0

Coupeville 101 001 x- 3 6 3

WP -- MaKayla Bailey. LP -- Kayla Struiksma. Highlights -- Nooksack: Brianna Turner 3-4, 2 2B, RBI, R; Arlissa Oettel 1-3; Lindsay Hayes 2-4, 2B, R; Chloe Gardner 1-3; Kayla Struiksma RBI; Cassidy Zylstra 1-4; Alexis Pike 1-3; Olivia Berkan 1-3.

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