In Holly Hilton’s 22 seasons as head softball coach at Ferndale, she couldn’t remember seeing a play scored catcher to left fielder to catcher, especially to cut off the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
“Probably not,” she said with a wide smile.
Tom Swapp’s 36 years as head coach at Anacortes, he said he had never lost on a walk-off home run.
And in more than a decade of softball, Ferndale senior Abigail Bauthues said she had never come through with such a dramatic blast.
In an eight-inning thriller between Northwest Conference title contenders, Bauthues’ two-out solo homer to left-center — a no-doubt-about it shot — gave the Golden Eagles a 3-2 win over the Seahawks on Tuesday, April 27.
In one of the best pitching duels of the season, third-year No. 1 pitcher Lauren Maley (10-1) struck out 14, which she said was her season best and certainly one of career highs for Ferndale.
Maley needed all of those strikeouts, since Anacortes senior Brooke Writer (10-4) limited Ferndale (5-1 NWC, 11-1 overall) to seven hits and struck out nine against a team that scored 62 runs in its previous three games.
“I thought we played real well and Ferndale played real well,” said Swapp, whose Seahawks (10-4, 5-1) endured their first league loss despite Writer‘s solid pitching. “I wouldn’t be smiling if we hadn’t played so well.”
Ferndale’s unusual play to end the top of the eighth occurred with Anacortes’ Amber Writer on third base and Rachael Stout on first.
Golden Eagles third baseman Gabby Edison charged in for a possible bunt. When that did not occur, Ferndale catcher Drew Westford tried to hold back her throw, but the ball squibbed out. A run would have scored had not fourth-year starter — and former third baseman — Scarlett Nyenhuis raced in from left field, scooped up the ball and fired to Westford for the inning-ending out.
“Drew knew the ball was coming back to her,” said Nyenhuis, who had a memorable day with two doubles and a single.
Score it the ever-popular 2-7-2 play.
“Drew is all about the next play,” Hilton said, explaining the sophomore catcher’s composure after the play initially appeared to be enough to score Ferndale‘s go-ahead run.
Hilton said the Ferndale softball fence, installed more than a decade ago, had frustrated many a power hitter until recent years.
“It took about seven years for anyone to hit the ball over the fence,” said Hilton, who noted that this was “only the second or third” walk-off homer of her career. “That was before they changed the technology of the bat.”
Bauthues’ homer was her third of the season. Ferndale also had a homer from sophomore Dana Ebe, whose two-run shot with Edison aboard on a walk gave the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead in the third. It was her first homer of the year.
Writer struck out nine and walked only one and scored a big run. Following a fourth-inning single by Amber Writer and Brooke’s ringing double to right to open the fourth, Aubrey Costanza hit a sacrifice fly and Emily Allen stroked a run-scoring hit with two outs for a 2-2 tie.
A nice diving stop by second baseman Sydney Shawler and her throw to shortstop Kadence Kane cut off a third Anacortes run and ended the inning.
It was an especially big day for the Golden Eagles, who face NWC Class 1-A leader Nooksack Valley on Tuesday at Nooksack Middle School. The victory was the first of nine games in a 17-day span to end the regular season for Ferndale.
It’s no wonder Hilton is praying for the absolute minimum of wet weather.
Swapp announced he would play the game under protest as the result of a third-inning play with a runner on first. That runner, Edison, had worked Maley’s only walk but Swapp thought the runner should have been called out on an ensuing play because “the fielder was obstructed by the base runner.” The base umpire said no and Ebe followed with her two-run homer.
Ferndale power hitter Kane twice lined lucklessly into double plays, the second time ending the sixth inning following a leadoff double by Westford, who hit for the cycle in her previous game.
Maley had sharp control, walking just two. The fourth was the only rocky inning for Maley, who struck out seven of the first 11 Seahawks. She displayed her endurance by striking out the side in the seventh.
Ferndale 3, Anacortes 2 (8)