SEDRO-WOOLLEY - Lynden endured the misfortune of facing what coach Steve Petersen called "the best Class 2A softball team I've seen in the last two seasons" in the Bi-District Tournament championship semifinals.
The Lions, however, still have what seems like at least an even shot of returning to the state tournament.
Lynden's 14-4 loss to Kingco Conference champion Lake Washington on Wednesday, May 21, dropped the Lions into a loser-out game on Friday against Sedro-Woolley at Janicki Fields. Either the Lions or Cubs will clinch a spot at state.
Petersen vowed, "We'll come back," moments after lauding Lake Washington's skills.
If the fourth-seeded Lions (13-7) play the way they did in junior Tanna Benson's 7-5 first-round bi-district victory over Cascade Conference champion Granite Falls, Lynden may well come back. The Lions lost their regular-season game to Sedro-Woolley 6-5.
Petersen's praise for Lake Washington - which clinched a spot at state and will face Sultan for the bi-district title - was well-earned. Remember, Lynden lost to eventual state champion Selah 8-5 in the championship semifinals last season.
Lake Washington (17-2), the champion of a predominantly 3A league, sent 44 batters to the plate and did not strike out. The Kangaroos finished with 19 hits, including two home runs, and made only one error while holding Lynden to six hits with two contrasting pitchers. All this after the Kangaroos overwhelmed second-seeded Anacortes 17-9 in the first round.
The Kangs' win over Lynden, however, was far closer than the 10-run margin indicates. The Kangaroos scored seven runs in the top of the last inning and finished with 10 hits that were either infield singles or bunt hits.
Kangaroos sophomore shortstop Hannah Walker, a possible Division I prospect with great power and an even greater arm, set the tone for the game with a two-run line-drive homer in the first inning.
For Lynden, losing pitcher Hannah Rothwell lined a solo homer to center field for her third of the season and junior catcher Mandy Warner went 3 for 3, including a solo homer in the fifth for the Lions' last run and her second home run this year.
But the only other Lynden player to hit safely was cleanup batter Benson, who singled and doubled but did not score.
Lake Washington relief pitcher Tori Bivens, a riseball artist, threw the final four innings and struck out seven after starter Kim Veldee fanned one Lion in the first three innings.
Lynden played very well in its win over Granite Falls (18-3), which went on to be eliminated by Anacortes 9-6.
Benson did a good job of scattering 11 hits. She did not walk anyone while throwing almost nothing but challenging strikes in an impressive show of poise and confidence against a league champion.
"I know my defense has my back," said Benson. "I'm very confident in our defense. I have trust."
Except for a scary three-error last inning, the Lions made only one other miscue. They turned a double play from freshman shortstop Elisa Kooiman to fourth-year second baseman Trisha Snydar (the Lions' lone senior starter) to first baseman Jenna Bonsen in the second inning.
Benson hit a run-scoring single in the first to help build a 5-2 lead after 41/2 innings. But after Granite scored twice in the fifth, Benson negated that with a high-arc, two-run homer in the sixth following Snydar's two-out single.
Granite Falls had eight of its 11 hits in the fourth and fifth. Benson did not allow another hit and shook off three errors in the seventh.
"I didn't worry," she said. "I know we'll have setback-comeback."
Warner threw out a runner trying to steal to end the first and Rothwell snagged six flies in center field. She might have had a double play after one of her catches - seemingly every Lynden fan, player and coach in the park screamed at the umpires that a runner did not tag up at second while trying to advance following a nifty running catch by Rothwell. That runner eventually scored.
"I was a little angry, but I (quickly) realized there was nothing I could do," said Benson. "But I'd rather just go after every batter and that's what I kept doing."
Petersen was impressed but hardly surprised by Benson's focus and poise.
"Tanna is really a mentally tough kid and has played a lot of ball," the tenth-year coach said. "She's all about what I'm constantly preaching -- throwing strikes and letting the defense work."
Warner went 2 for 4 and drove in a run. Snyder tripled down the right-field line in a nice piece of situational hitting, but that hit went for naught and she finished 2 for 3. Rothwell singled by Teylor Eshuis doubled home Rothwell with two outs for a 5-2 lead in the fifth.
Sedro-Woolley eliminated top NWC seed Burlington-Edison 7-1 after the Cubs fell to Sultan 4-1. Sultan went on to beat Lakewood 4-3 in nine innings in the other championship semifinal.
Burlington fell to Lakewood 7-5 in the other first-round game.
CLASS 2A BI-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
At Janicki Fields
Lynden 7, Granite Falls 5
Lake Washington 17, Anacortes 9
Sultan 4, Sedro-Woolley 1
Lakewood 7, Burlington-Edison 5
Lake Washington 14, Lynden 4
Sultan 4, Lakewood 3 (9 innings)
Anacortes 9, Granite Falls 6
Sedro-Woolley 7, Burlington-Edison 1
LYNDEN 7, GRANITE FALLS 5
Lynden 100 312 0 - 7 11 4
Granite Falls 000 220 1 - 5 11 4
WP --Tanna Benson (6-4). LP -- Lauren Harding. Highlights -- Lynden: Mandy Warner 2-4, RBI, R; Catyler Alex 1-4, 2 R; Trisha Snydar 2-3, 3B, R; Tanna Benson 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Hannah Rothwell 1-4, R; Kaylee Vis 1-3, R; Teylor Eshuis 1-3, 2B, RBI; Elisa Kooiman 1-4. Granite Falls: Kelsey Bechtholdt 2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI; Lauren Harding 2-4, R; Dannica West 2-4, RBI; Mikayla Engstrom 1-4, RBI.
LAKE WASHINGTON 14, LYNDEN 4
Lake Washington 221 020 7 - 14 19 1
Lynden 012 010 0 - 4 6 3
WP -- Tori Bivens. LP -- Hannah Rothwell. Highlights -- Lake Washington Cori Meyers 3-4, 2R, RBI; Hannah Walker 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Hannah Steele 3-5, 2 R; Julia Turner 4-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R; Kim Veldee 3-5, 2 R. Lynden: Mandy Warner 3-3, HR, RBI; Tanna Benson 2-4, 2B; Hannah Rothwell 1-2, HR, RBI; Trisha Snyder RBI.