SEDRO-WOOLLEY -- As a coach who had just guided his Lynden softball team to its fourth consecutive Class 2A State Tournament ticket, Steve Petersen had no doubt about the caliber of hitting he had just seen.
Considering the winner-to-state, loser-out stakes, Petersen could not have been more thrilled with the Lions’ 11-3 win over Sedro-Woolley in a classy performance in the Bi-District Tournament on Saturday, May 24, at Janicki Fields.
“No doubt about it, offensively, that was definitely the best game we’ve had this season,” Petersen said. It surely was also one of the finest under pressure that he has enjoyed in his 10-year tenure as head coach.
The Lions (14-8) supported winning pitcher Tanna Benson with 12 hits, all solid shots to the outfield, with nary a bunt or infield hit in the bunch.
Eight of the hits drove in runs, including a season-best 3-for-4 effort with four runs batted in by sophomore outfielder Catyler Alex.
Benson (7-4), meanwhile, made sure all the big stats were not of the batting variety. The junior scattered nine hits and walked only one.
In her two district wins, Benson walked exactly one batter while facing 64 hitters in 14 innings.
Benson was supported by errorless defense, including a diving catch in left field by Ally Dahm in the third inning. Benson ended the game with a double play when she snagged a liner and doubled a runner off first.
Petersen’s best coaching move of the day, however, may have been asking four-year starter Taylor Van Dalen, home from her first year at Whitworth College, to give the team a pep talk.
“Just hearing Taylor’s words was so important,” said Lynden second baseman Trisha Snydar, who clinched the rare distinction in any sport of becoming a starter for four state tournament teams. She is Lynden’s only starting senior on what Petersen agreed earlier in district play is his best such young team.
“Taylor basically told us to play to win (instead of playing to avoid losing) and to not play like it might be our last game,” Snydar said. “I definitely did tear up a bit. Softball just means so much to me, and I was just so excited just hearing her words.”
Van Dalen, possibly a future coach, knows how to encourage a team — she was honored as Lynden’s Most Inspirational Player in her junior and senior seasons.
Alex was thrilled with her batting performance.
“I’m just glad all the hard work is paying off,” she said. “I actually dreamed last night about getting hits in a big victory.”
In the ensuing game for third/fourth place seeding at state, Lynden sophomore Hannah Rothwell pitched well but was out-dueled 4-1 by Anacortes junior Brooke Writer, one of the Northwest Conference’s most effective pitchers.
Writer, a classic wind miller, limited the Lions to five hits, with no more than one in any inning. Benson went 2 for 3 with a double and a run-scoring single in the sixth, giving her 7 for 15 with five RBI in four district games to go with her two wins.
In the other late game in the tournament — which did not end until after 9 p.m. — Lake Washington beat Sultan 2-1 for the district title.Nothing, however, could limit the Lions against Sedro-Woolley senior Ashley Queen.
Lynden scored five runs in the first inning, including a run-scoring single by Alex and a long double by Benson to drive in Alex with the second run. Kaylee Vis doubled home two runs and sophomore Teylor Eshuis singled home Vis.
In the second inning, Rothwell’s two-run double gave the Lions a 7-0 lead and the Cubs (14-8) did not have the firepower against Benson to answer well enough to get back into the game.
Alex added a run-scoring double in the third. A double by leadoff batter Mandy Warner helped set up a two-run double by Alex in the fifth for a 10-1 lead. Jenna Bonsen singled home Lynden’s final run in the sixth.
“Every one of our batters made sure they saw some good pitches,” Petersen said, noting what a patient, poised performance his Lions delivered. (It was also what made the game so long, albeit rewarding for the Lions.)
All the highlights in the second game were on defense for the Lions. Snydar drew gasps from the crowd with an over-the-shoulder catch to end the first inning. Morgan Black made a fine running catch in center field, and Benson -- playing shortstop instead of third base -- caught a ball over her shoulder and turned the grab into an inning-ending double play when she fired to Bonsen to double off a runner in the fifth.
CLASS 2A BI-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
At Janicki Fields
Championship -- Lake Washington 2, Sultan 1
Winner to state -- Lynden 11, Sedro-Woolley 3
Winner to state -- Anacortes 6, Lakewood 2
Third/fourth place seeding game -- Anacortes 4, Lynden 1
LYNDEN 11, SEDRO-WOOLLEY 3
Lynden 521 021 0 -- 11 12 1
Sedro-Woolley 010 020 0 -- 3 9 1
WP -- Tanna Benson (7-4). LP -- Ashley Queen. Highlights -- Lynden: Mandy Warner 1-5, 2B, 3 R; Catyler Alex 3-4, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R; Trisha Snydar 1-3, R; Tanna Benson 2-4, 2B, RBI, 2R; Hannah Rothwell 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R; Jenna Bonsen 1-4, RBI; Kaylee Vis 1-3, 2B, 2RBI, R; Teylor Eshuis 1-2, RBI; Elisa Kooiman 1-4, 2B, R. Sedro-Woolley: Ashley Queen 1-3, 2B, R; Kalia Chu-Greenough 1-4, R; Suzie Lubanski 1-3, RBI; Peyton Frizzell 3-3; Kate Morgan 1-3, RBI; Tiffanie Matthews 1-3, R.
ANACORTES 4, LYNDEN 1
Lynden 000 001 0 -- 1 5 0
Anacortes 000 130 x -- 4 8 1
WP -- Brooke Writer. LP -- Hannah Rothwell. Highlights -- Lynden: Catyler Alex 1-2; Tanna Benson 2-3, 2B, RBI; Hannah Rothwell 1-3; Teylor Eshuis 1-1, 2B. Anacortes: Hayley Stout 2-2, 2B, R; Kayla Matthews 1-2, R; Amber Writer 1-3, 2B, RBI, R; Brooke Writer 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Rachel Stout 1-3, RBI’ Shelby Starkovich 1-3.