Bainbridge All-Stars take district championships

The Bainbridge 9/10 and 11/12 softball All-Star teams completed a sweep of the district tournament at Snider Field in Poulsbo, with final victories Tuesday evening that advanced them to state tournaments in their respective divisions.

The 9/10 team downed East Jefferson 15-5, and the older Bainbridge squad also defeated East Jefferson by a score of 9-2, crowning them both District 2 champs for 2003.

The 11/12 year-old All-Stars played a near-perfect game Tuesday -- big hitting, tight pitching and stingy defense.

A combination of hot bats early in the game, Haylee Baker’s solid pitching effort and the 11/12 year-olds’ flawless fielding down the stretch provided the necessary ingredients for the tournament title.

“The kids had great confidence coming into this,” said 11/12 coach Tony Gaspich. “We really wanted to come in here and put it to them. Our goal was state, and beyond.”

The Bainbridge team lit up East Jefferson pitcher Robyn Garing immediately. The top of the first inning saw three runners cross the plate, though East Jefferson countered with a pair of runs -- the only two they would get.

Chelsie Kakela walked to begin the second inning and Maddy Sheldon ripped a shot to right field on the first pitch. With two runners on base, Baker shot a line drive through the EJ second baseman’s legs, scoring Kakela and Sheldon. Baker advanced to second on the play when the opposing outfielder tried to make a long throw for the play at home plate.

And the hits just kept on coming for Bainbridge.

Lindsay Willmann plunked a blooper to short left, which scored Baker. Two batters later, a Kaitlin Gaspich sacrifice brought another runner to the plate and upped the score to 7-2 for the inning.

Then Baker showed off her pitching prowess by hurling harder than East Jefferson batters could handle. Though they were connecting with Baker’s pitches, most EJ hitters seemed surprised to have even put the ball into play.

And there was no surprising the Bainbridge defense -- two grounders and a fly ball were snapped up and cleanly thrown to first for three outs in a row.

In the bottom of the third, Baker started a string of strikeouts, sitting down three of four batters with a wily mix of changeups and fastballs. The next inning was another 1-2-3 affair, with Ally Guy gloving a liner, Kakela running down a short fly in left field, and another strike-out for Baker.

The East Jefferson defense held Bainbridge in the top of the fifth, but the bats were heating up again, as Cara Thompson sent a shot to deep center field and Willmann hit a line drive at EJ second baseman Paige Eldridge that nearly knocked her glove off.

Testament to the strong Bainbridge defense and teamwork -- and the most spectacular play of the game -- East Jefferson’s Angela Sommantico hit a long fly ball to center that rolled to the fence. Sommantico rounded second base as the ball was fielded by Gaspich and rocketed to shortstop Thompson, who then whirled and threw home, as Sommantico was racing for an inside-the-park home run.

Bainbridge catcher Jessica Molskness, straddling the baseline, received the throw and buried her glove into a sliding Sommantico, who was called out by a good two feet.

“That was ‘the express,’” said Gaspich about the relay from center field to home plate. “And that took the life out of them.”

In the sixth inning, EJ pitcher Chelsea Ham couldn’t find the plate -- or the catcher’s mitt -- and a series of walks and wild pitches loaded the bases for Kakela, who popped a high fly ball just behind the second baseman.

The two RBIs on Kakela’s hit brought the score to 9-2, and stole whatever wind was left in the East Jefferson sails.

Three perfectly-fielded line drives provided the final three EJ outs and secured the win that would send the 11/12s to state in Langley on Whidbey Island.

“This is great,” said Gaspich after the win. “These kids have been playing together since 9/10s.”

Baker pitched a complete game -- allowing only two runs on three hits and striking out six, and the Bainbridge team had no fielding errors.

The 11/12 team’s first game is today at 1 p.m. The 9/10 All-Stars play their first state game July 19 at Pacwest Field in Burien.

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