Aleks Toivola was electric in the circle (two shutouts) and at the plate (5 for 8, three RBI) Friday, May 30, at the Columbia Playfield in Richmond, as she lifted Mount Baker's softball team to a Class 1A State Tournament semifinal.
"It feels great," Toivola said in a phone interview. "To show what I'm capable of at state is a great feeling."
Toivola struck out four in seven innings as the Mountaineers won the opening round game 6-0 Toivola added three hits for Baker in the win while retiring the first six Cashmere batters.
While Toivola and her defense were getting outs, the Mountaineers tallied five runs in the first two innings.
"We put five runs on the board, but left a couple out there, which concerned me a bit," Baker coach Ron Lepper said in a phone interview. "But we played defense the rest of the way and did a nice job of making things happen."
The second game began similar to the first, with the Mountaineers jumping out to an early lead. Three runs in the first inning proved to be the difference as Baker defeated Montesano 3-0.
Baker almost surrendered the lead in the second and third innings. In both innings, Montesano loaded the bases only to fall short of scoring.
"We dodged two bullets," Lepper said. "That was huge."
Although Toivola pitched the second straight shutout, it was Emily Brandland's highlight-reel defense that stole the show. With her eight putouts, including saving a couple would-be hard hits, Brandland earned high praise all around.
"After the game, I was almost in tears about how well we did," Toivola said. "It's nice knowing that when I'm pitching I can throw strikes and my defense will back me up. It's not just me doing it, we played so well as a team today."
Baker will face Hoquiam at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 31, in Richland. Hoquiam combined for 22 runs in its first two games, so the Mountaineers have their work cut out for them.
"We have the capability of beating any team here," Toivola said. "I have confidence in my players."
MOUNT BAKER 6, CASHMERE 0
Cashmere 000 000 0 - 0 5 1
Baker 230 010 x - 6 7 0
WP: Aleks Toivola (16-5). LP: Mongeon (n/a). Highlights: Baker: Aleks Toivola 3-4, 2 RBI; Emma Lallas 1-2, 2 RBI; Lacey Postlewait 1-3, 2 R.
MOUNT BAKER 3, MONTESANO 0
Montesano 000 000 0 - 0 5 1
Baker 300 000 x - 3 7 1
WP: Aleks Toivola (17-5). LP: Bidion (n/a). Highlights: Baker: Aleks Toivola 2-3, RBI; Emily Yost 1-3, RBI; Rocky Rollins 1-1, 2B.