It’s the goal that’s been on the mind of every senior on Sehome’s softball team since the first practice of 2015. The seven soon-to-be graduates haven’t seen the likes of a state tournament since their freshmen years, when they were contributors not centerpieces.
That goal of getting back to state was achieved on Friday, May 22, at Janicki Fields when the Mariners topped Sedro-Woolley 8-3 in a Class 2A Northwest District Tournament game. They later fell to Granite Falls 4-3 in the third-fourth place game but their fate was already sealed.
“It feels amazing,” senior catcher Morgan Henry said. “We’ve worked so hard this year and we’ve put in a lot of hours. It’s finally paid off. Everyone contributed in the game and it showed.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
The stars came through in the first, Tori McDowell led off with a double, Morgan Henry hit a two-run bomb to center field and Carissa McDowell followed with a solo shot to make it 3-1 in the first.
In a three-run fourth inning, nine-hole hitter Maddy Bryan drew a walk, Tori McDowell hit a double and pinch hitter Takiley Watkins drove in a run before the middle of the lineup — Gabby Gorosave and Henry — drove in two more.
“We talk about how we have 12 varsity kids and I feel pretty comfortable if I’m going to bring any one of them into the game at one time,” Emerson said. “It’s been a hard job for me this year because we are 12 deep.”
But the Mariners knew they had their hands full with Sedro-Woolley and they had to come out with more desire.
After a great day at practice on Thursday, Emerson noted, he had a good feeling about his club’s chances before the game.
“I could tell yesterday at practice that these kids, they wanted it. They had no other thought in their mind as far as that goes,” Emerson said. “They came out and they did it.”
It was about as complete of a game as you can get in terms of all-around performance and the desire to stay alive another week shined through in every play.
It was Carissa McDowell in the second inning diving for a bunt, inuring her shoulder in the process but toughing it out and staying in the game. She went on to get an RBI single the next inning and went 3 for 4 in the next game.
It was Henry’s diving catch in the third when a bunt went a little too high. Countless times, the Mariners flung themselves to the ground in hopes of recording an out.
“We knew it was do or die today,” Henry said. “Those little plays could be the difference in the game. ... All you can do is try and give it your best shot and good things will happen.”
Lynden wins district title
It looked like it was over, that Anacortes had gotten redemption for a walk-off loss to Lynden earlier in the season.
The seventh-inning pitched leaped off Shelby Starkovich’s bat and went straight to center field. Lynden held a 1-0 lead and with a runner on, the Seahawks would take the lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
“My heart skipped a beat for a second,” Lynden pitcher Tanna Benson said.
But centerfielder Hannah Rothwell tracked back and made the catch at the wall. Next to her was the sign that read the distance — 225. At any other park, it likely would have been gone.
At Janicki Fields, Lynden would hang on for the 1-0 win and a Class 2A Northwest District Tournament title.
“I knew the one we hit the other day that was a bomb barely got out so I was like ‘It’s staying in the park,’” Lions coach Steve Petersen said. “I don’t know if we’re going to catch it but it’s staying in the park. Thank God it’s Death Valley out there.”
It was just one of several times on the night the defense put in a good effort behind Benson, who pitched a brilliant seven innings allowing just five hits while striking out six.
Shortstop Elisa Kooiman was often the face of those defensive plays, as she got the putout or assisted the out on seven of the 21 outs, many of which came in high-pressure situations with runners on base.
“I’m working my hardest out there to get the ball on the ground and get the ball to my team and just get the outs,” Benson said. “In the end, that’s what pays off.”
Offensively, things weren’t going as well for the Lions against 2014 Skagit County Player of the Year Brooke Writer. The Lions only tallied three hits, two of which were doubles by third baseman Kaylee Vis.
But timely hitting is what good softball teams are made of and Jenna Bonsen’s single followed by Taylor Eshuis’ groundout scored Vis in the second inning and that was enough.
“They’re a good team. They definitely push us to our limits,” Benson said of the Seahawks. “So it’s really nice to be able to play them and have them put up such of a fight.”
Sehome 8, Sedro-Woolley 3
WP: Mallory Kruzich. LP: Queen. Highlights: Sehome: Tori McDowell 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B; Gabby Gorosave 1-3, RBI, R, SB; Morgan Henry 1-4, 3 RBI, HR; Carissa McDowell 2-3, 2 RBI, SB, HR; Maddy Bryan 1-2, RBI, R; Takiley Watkins 1-2, RBI, R. Sedro-Woolley: Linde 1-4, R; Queen 1-4, 2B; Lubanski 2-3, 2 RBI, 2B, HR, R; Ammons 1-3, 2B; Morgan 1-3, SB; Frizzell 2-3, R.
Lynden 1, Anacortes 0
WP: Tanna Benson. LP: Brooke Writer. Highlights: Lynden: Kaylee Vis 2-2, R, 2 2B; Jenna Bonsen 1-2, Taylor Eshuis 0-2, RBI. Anacortes: Brooke Riordan 2-2, 2 BB; Shelby Starkovich 1-4, Kortney Nelson 1-3, Aubrey Costanza 1-3, 2B.
Granite Falls 4, Sehome 3
WP: n/a. LP: Mallory Kruzich. Highlights: Sehome: Morgan Henry 3-4, RBI; Carissa McDowell 3-4.