Sam Van Loo trusted in Lynden Christian’s plan to “rest the wrist.” As a result, the 6-foot-1 junior has the chance to pitch the Lyncs into the Class 1A State Tournament.
Van Loo was a 22-1 five-inning winner over Nooksack Valley in the Northwest District semifinals Thursday at Janicki Fields, looking as though the January basketball injury to her pitching wrist had never occurred.
“I played through in basketball, but I just had to trust in our coaches and trust in the process to rest in softball. It was a good idea,” said Van Loo, who did not pitch in LC’s first six games.
“We missed Sam dearly,” said Emmalee Bailey, one of LC’s three seniors.
Since then, the Lyncs (11-10) have gone 9-6 against most 2A and 3A competition, including Van Loo’s 1-0 win over 2A state hopeful Lynden in LC’s eighth game.
Now Van Loo faces the formidable challenge of beating South Whidbey power pitcher Mackenzee Collins for the district title Saturday at 2 p.m. Collins struck out 16 in her 3-0 win over Mount Baker in the other semifinal.
The winner qualifies for state. The loser plays the consolation bracket champion at 4 p.m. in a loser-out game for the other state berth (this year, only two teams advance).
“I have a lot of confidence in our team and our bats are really coming around,” said Van Loo, who won her fifth consecutive game
The Lyncs, who had a bye in the first round along with South Whidbey, had 19 hits against Nooksack (6-15). Those with multiple hits and/or multiple runs batted in were Hollie Scott, 4 for 4 with 5 RBIs; Maggie VanderGriend, 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs; Kiya Levien, 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs; Avery Dykstra, 2 for 2 with 1 RBI; Ellie VanderVeen, 2 for 3 with 1 RBI; and Bailey, 1 for 2 with 2 RBI.
“We’re going to have to work hard to put the ball in play and run like deer (against Collins),” said LC coach Mitch Moorlag. “Team speed is one of our strengths.”
BAKER’S ODD DAY
Jordan Miles, Mount Baker’s senior center fielder who came into the tournament batting nearly .600, had all three of the hits off South Whidbey’s mighty Collins. Tara Chambers pitched well for Baker, but was victimized by three unearned runs.
In the first round, Mount Baker (12-9) enjoyed a 19-0 five-inning win over Sultan as Chambers and freshman Tyler Miles combined on a three-hitter. The Miles sisters combined to produce 11 runs as Tyler displayed her potential with 5 RBIs and 3 runs scored on 2 for 4 hitting. Jordan went 3 for 4 with three runs. Grace Davis and Kaylea Sleveland drove in two runs apiece.
Baker will open the consolation round Saturday at noon against Cedar Park Christian. Baker must win three loser-out games to earn the second state spot.
Coach Ron Lepper’s squad has the potential to do just that -- the Mounties won five in a row before losing to Lynden Christian 9-4 in the last regular-season game.
Spunky senior leader Maddi Myhre, who missed most of the school sports year with a severe knee injury, went 2 for 4 with an RBI in her third game of the season for Nooksack Valley -- which turned out to be an unexpected forfeit win over Cedar Park Christian -- and is now 4 for her first 12.
When Cedar Park discovered a player was technically ineligible, it self-reported the infraction and the Eagles’ 12-5 first-round win over Nooksack suddenly became a forfeit loss. In the game itself, Nooksack’s Makenzie Unser also went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs, while Kendall Newton was 1 for 3 with an RBI and Allie Bird doubled.
Nooksack, still alive like all six teams in the tournament, will open the consolation round Saturday at noon against Sultan. Like Baker, the Pioneers must win three games to qualify for state.
Unser doubled and scored on a single by Jami Tresselt against LC’s Van Loo, who struck out five in five innings and walked only one.