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Spartans claim Metro League fastpitch title in nailbiter | UPDATE
Teams have off-days, plain and simple. The way the Bainbridge High School fastpitch softball team had played this charmed season, it almost seemed like that wasn’t going to be the case.
Even in the Metro League Championship against Holy Names on Friday, the Spartans were behind but never lost faith.
“We never doubted ourselves,” said Liz McCloskey.
The Spartans were down two in the bottom of the seventh in the Metro Championship. But if Bainbridge was meant to find its finish on this field, Fate forgot to go tell the Spartans.
Taylor Greenfield led off the seventh with a double, Katie Raben singled and Greenfield scored on the play. Raben moved to second on the throw home.
Cali Moore flew out, but on the fly-out, Raben tagged up and went to third.
With Raben on third, freshman Kate Kinney came up in a huge spot and singled to score Raben to even the score at 4-4, which sent the game to extra innings.
Raben pitched the eighth and didn’t allow Holy Names to score. The Spartans came up in the bottom of the eighth with the top of the order coming to the plate.
“That is exactly where we wanted to be in that situation,” McCloskey said.
Lead-off batter Alison Reichert flew out to start the inning, then Willmann took one for the team when she was hit by a pitch.
The three hitter, Erin Kinney, singled and advanced Willmann to second.
Greenfield then grounded out third.
With two outs and runners at first and second, Raben came up and was in that situation ballplayers dream since childhood: two outs, bottom of the final inning, two on base and a full count.
With the count full, Raben singled to left, and because the count was full, Kinney got a good jump from second and beat the throw to the plate.
The Spartans won the game in dramatic walk-off fashion, and kept their perfect season alive.
In the first round of the District 2 quarterfinals this week, the Spartans had an off day against Mount Si on Wednesday.
The Wildcats scored four runs in the first three innings, while the Spartans couldn’t cash in with runners in scoring position.
Going into the bottom of the fourth were in rut, trailing Mount Si 5-1.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle, and were going to have to play our best,” said McCloskey. “We left runners on base, and it wasn’t our day.”
The Spartans, who had been so strong all season with pitching, defense and at the plate, struggled in all three categories. Raben uncharacteristically allowed six runs on 11 hits and also walked three. The offense only scored three runs.
The strong Spartan defense allowed three errors in the game, which led to three Mount Si runs.
When you leave runners on base and commit errors in softball, usually it’s a clear sign it isn’t your night and that is what happened to the Spartans Wednesday.
“There are teams out there that can beat us,” said McCloskey. “Now we have to play our best.”
With the loss the Spartans were in a loser-out situation Thursday. The Spartans needed to win back to back games in order to secure the fifth and final spot to go to state.