Lynden softball senior Hannah Rothwell is quite the force to be reckoned with at the plate as teams in the Northwest Conference have seen all season long.
On Wednesday, May 20, at Janicki Fields the rest of the district got to see that too. She went 5 for 6 at the plate with two homers and eight RBI in the first two rounds of the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament, as she led her Lions to their fourth consecutive state tournament berth.
Lynden topped Bellingham 10-0 in six innings in the first round before pulling away from Archbishop Murphy 9-5 in the district semifinal. The Lions will face Anacortes on Friday, May 22, at Janicki for the district title, but the Lions have already secured a spot at state.
“Relieving I tell you that,” Lynden pitcher Tanna Benson said of her team clinching a state spot on day one.
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Benson pitched both games on the day, picking up two wins using primarily her fastball and a solid defense behind her to get outs.
“Guts,” Lynden coach Steve Petersen said of his senior pitcher. “We didn’t throw anything but a fastball for a strike all night. It was just guts and trust in her defense. The bigger the situation, the tougher she gets.”
Rothwell, evidently, also has a knack for stepping up in big situations.
In the first inning against Bellingham, Red Raider pitcher Eliza Rossman struck out the first two batters before Benson hit a single. With a runner on, Rothwell came to the plate, saw the first two strikes go by and smashed the third pitch over the left field fence to put Lynden up 2-0 early.
“I know Eliza, I play with her,” Rothwell said. “I knew she threw one right on the outside that I liked the first pitch and I was like ‘Oh I should have got that.’ I knew she was going to throw it inside on the next one and I just jumped on it.”
From there, it was off to the races for the Lions.
“It’s all about starting the momentum,” Benson said.
The second game was much tougher against the Wildcats, but the Lynden bats stayed hot, as Rothwell hit a grand slam in the first inning (although only three runs scored after Rothwell passed Benson on the bases) and Lynden pulled to a 6-1 lead after four.
A four-run fifth by Archbishop Murphy put a scare to the Lions, but this battle-tested Lynden team snuck away with the win.
“It’s a reward for really working hard all season,” Petersen said. “They’re a good bunch of girls and that wasn’t an easy game to win. As nice as they are, they’re pretty dog gone tough. It’s exciting to spend another week with them and go see what we can achieve.”
Sehome slips up but battles to stay in tournament
There’s really only one thing anybody needs to know about Sehome’s opening round game against Archbishop Murphy.
“The first inning,” Mariners coach Jim Emerson said.
In uncharacteristic fashion, Sehome allowed five runs to the Wildcats in bottom of the first and only one hit, leading to an eventual 7-4 defeat.
“It was just awful,” Emerson said. “I think the nerves of everything just showed up. We’d had three great practices coming into this and I thought we were ready to go. Unfortunately we came out and had one of the worst innings we’ve had all year and it was the wrong time.”
The Mariners made their best effort to scrap back into it, picking up runs in the third, the fourth and the seventh but it was too little, too late.
It forced Sehome into a loser-out situation with Bellingham and it was far from an easy game and much closer than the 8-3 score suggests.
The Mariners once again got behind in the first inning due to errors, but this time it was only 1-0, giving Sehome plenty of hope given the strength of its lineup.
Sure enough in the bottom of the first, the Mariners took the lead for good.
An RBI double by Gabby Gorosave drove in Tori McDowell and then a two-run bomb by Morgan Henry made it 3-1.
“It’s a senior-led team. We got seven seniors. Most of these kids have played a lot,” Emerson said. “They’ve played a whole lot and they’re used to battling. We’ve battled all year.”
Henry came through again in the fourth inning with another big homer over the left field fence, driving in another two runs to make it 6-3. An RBI double in the sixth made it 7-3 before Carissa McDowell drove in the final run.
“I saw what I’ve been seeing in Morgan for four years,” Emerson said. “Unfortunately for her, she had an un-Morgan like game in the first game,” Emerson said. “It’s a tough situation but she threw it awar and came back out swining here. That’s what we’re used to.”
The Mariners will play Sedro-Woolley in a loser-out, winner-to-state game at 4 p.m., Friday, May 22, at Janicki Fields.
Bellingham’s defensive miscues send Red Raiders packing
Bellingham’s No. 1 goal coming into the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament was to prove they belonged, coach Rick Ellis said.
And the Red Raiders did just that, battling in both games but falling short, as they were eliminated from the playoffs following a 10-0 loss to Lynden and an 8-3 loss to Sehome.
“I certainly saw (us battling),” Ellis said. “Our kids never quit.”
While Bellingham did plenty to get people’s attention with a young core that should be competitive for years to come, the defense wasn’t on par with the rest of the district teams.
In the first game, the Red Raiders committed four errors, dropping two infield popups, one of which had two runs scored on it.
“I wish our defense would have been a little tighter today,” Ellis said. “We made some miscues that gave some teams some extra chances and it came back to haunt us a bit. We got to clean that up and move on.”
It might have been nerves for the Red Raiders, who haven’t been to the playoffs in at least a decade and Ellis said some of the players came up to him admitting some “stage-fright feelings.”
Baserunning was also an issue, although maybe not as much as the scorecard suggested. Bellingham undoubtedly made mistakes, such as not tagging up on a deep fly to centerfield in the fourth inning against Sehome, but one call left fans and Bellingham coaches dumbfounded.
In the sixth inning, Paige Jacobsen hit a leadoff double that was absolutely ripped over the third baseman’s glove.
Two batters later, Lindsey Richard crushed the ball to deep center. Jacobsen tried to tag up and it appeared she was safe at third. An appeal to second base saying she didn’t tag up was succesful for Sehome, as the umpire called her out for failure to tag up.
“I felt that game could have gone either way,” Ellis said. “A hit or two here and maybe a baserunning error took some momentum away from us.”
Senior Justina Allen did her best to get some more softball under her belt with a two-RBI single in the fourth inning made it 4-3 but Sehome rallied back against pitcher Eliza Rossman, who threw well in both games but seemed to run out of steam.
Still, this is a group Ellis is excited about moving forward and for good reason. The top of the lineup is loaded with freshman and sophomores and the Red Raiders still challenged some very tough ball clubs in the district tournament.
Lynden 10, Bellingham 0 (6)
WP: Tanna Benson (14-1). LP: Eliza Rossman. Highlights: Lynden: Tanna Benson 3-4, SB, RBI, 2 R; Hannah Rothwell 2-3, 2 R, 4 RBI, HR, 2B; Kaylee Vis 203, RBI, 2B, 3B; Elisa Kooiman 2-3, R, 2B, SB. Bellingham: Julia Latimer 1-3, SB; Lindsey Richard 1-2, Jasmin Lopez 1-2, Jasmine Midgley 1-2, 2B.
Archbishop Murphy 7, Sehome 4
WP: n/a. LP: Mallory Kruzich. Highlights: Sehome: Tori McDowell 2-4, 2B, 2 R; Gabby Gorosave 3-3, 3 2B.
Sehome 8, Bellingham 3
WP: Mallory Kruzich. LP: Eliza Rossman. Highlights: Sehome: Gabby Gorosave 2-4, RBI, 2B, 2 R; Morgan Henry 4-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R; Carissa McDowell 1-2, 2 R, RBI. Bellingham: Eliza Rossman 2-3, 2B, Paige Jacobsen 2-3, 2B; Carrie Latimer 1-3, SB, R; Justina Allen 1-3, 2 RBI.
Lynden 9, Archbishop Murphy 5
WP: Tanna Benson (15-1). LP: Robertson. Highlights: Lynden: Hannah Rothwell 3-3, 4 RBI; Tanna Benson 3-3, 2 RBI; Mandy Warner 2-3, 3 R.