Softball All-Stars nonchalant in victory

The 11-12 team made short work of Sequim, heads to State.

The celebration was all business – much like the play on the field.

The Bainbridge Island Majors All-Stars 11-12 year-olds defeated Sequim 6-0 on Saturday to win the District 2 softball championship and move on to the state tournament.

Pitcher Hailey Willmann threw a complete game shutout as she struck out six, while shortstop and leadoff hitter Clara Dunn went 3 for 3 and scored three times.

“She had three solid base raps,” All-Star manager Troy Greenfield said of Dunn’s performance. “She drove them nuts on the base paths (as well). She’s real quick and just runs like crazy.”

Dunn got started in the first inning as she bunted her way on board, then stole second and third.

Willmann got a bunt single, then right fielder Abbey Hartmann bunted into a fielder’s choice to score Dunn.

Hartmann would later score on a groundout by left fielder Larkin Sheldon.

In the third, Dunn led off with another single, then took advantage of some bad throws to reach third.

Willmann drove her in with a bloop single and would eventually score on a passed ball.

Sheldon singled and later scored on a single by catcher Caitlin McCormick.

Dunn scored the last run in the fourth when she, Willmann and Hartmann smacked back-to-back singles. She scored when Sheldon was hit by a pitch.

Sequim never really threatened in the game, despite putting runners on base. Willmann would retired key batters via strikeouts, and also counted on her defense to get the job done – they committed zero errors.

Even when Sequim tried to outsmart Bainbridge, they couldn’t do it.

In the fifth, with two outs, the Sequim runner on third tried to steal home after McCormick chased her back to third and threw the ball to Willmann as she turned her back on the mound. But third baseman T.J. Pitts alerted Willmann to the ruse, and the runner was thrown out.

The play was a microcosm of the All-Stars mood, as they were on a mission – a change in attitude from last year’s 9-10-year-old team that Greenfield picked up on immediately.

“I was a little surprised,” he said. “Last year, they were falling all over each other and going nuts. I hate to say it, but they were a little nonchalant about it. They kinda thought they were going to go out there and do it, and they did it.

“We talked about it beforehand. They were well prepared, they worked real hard and they knew they were prepared. They just went out and did their business.”

The All-Stars open State against a to-be-determined team from District 5, which encompasses cities from Eastern Washington, such as Spokane, Moses Lake or Walla Walla.

The contest begins at 6 p.m. July 17.

9-10s ousted by Sequim

It was a tough way for them to go out.

The Bainbridge Island Majors All-Stars 9-10 year olds dropped a pair of heartbreakers to Sequim, losing 6-5 on Saturday – despite a no-hitter by pitcher Katie Raben – and 12-11 on Sunday, preventing the team from reaching the state tournament.

All-Star manager Deidre Raben was still proud of her squad and their never-say-die attitude.

“Our kids played hard to the bitter end,” she said. “They put their heart and soul into it.”

Raben struck out 15 Sequim batters but gave up some walks, and the Bainbridge defense made throwing mistakes that allowed Sequim to take the game with aggressive play.

Sunday’s contest was a tense, back-and-forth affair that saw the lead change hands six times.

Fans on both sides were rambunctious to the point that the announcer warned both sides not to engage the coaches.

Sequim started it off with Bailey Rhodefer reaching base and scoring on a passed ball.

Bainbridge got the run back when third baseman Kayla Estes walked and shortstop Raben singled. Pitcher Erin Kinney doubled sharply down the left field line, scoring both runners.

Sequim would retake the lead in the second as they scored three runs on passed balls and a throwing error, but Bainbridge tallied one in the second when Maureen McCormick doubled and would eventually score on a ground out by Lauren Easley.

The All-Stars rallied to tie the game in the fifth thanks to Raben and Campbell, who singled and doubled, respectively, and eventually score on passed balls.

All-Star Emily Schneider scored the go-ahead run in the fourth as she reached base via a single and eventually scored on a bad throw by the catcher.

Sequim tied it up in the fifth as Taylor Howard was hit by a pitch, then scored as the pitcher couldn’t get the tag on a rundown.

In the fifth, Bainbridge stopped treading water. McCormick and Cailyn Schreck reached on walks, then Schneider singled, driving in McCormick. Estes walked, then Raben grounded out, allowing Schnieder to score. Estes would later score on Campbell’s single.

But the game fell apart for the All-Stars in Sequim’s half of the inning. As the rain came on to serve as an eerie metaphor, Sequim batted around to score six runs, capitalizing on several passed balls.

Bainbridge wouldn’t lay down and die. Easley walked and worked her way to third, where she scored when the catcher overthrew the third baseman on a rundown play.

But that’s all they could muster, as Sequim shut down the next two hitters to win the game and the district title.

Raben said her team will learn from the game somewhere down the line.

“I have a good group of kids,” she said. “They gave it everything they had.”

* * * * *

Summer sandlot baseball

Bainbridge Island Little League is reintroducing the best of warm summer nights with excellent baseball instruction and fun sandlot play.

Youngsters through the age of 12 are invited to register for BILL’s Summer Baseball program. Games begin Saturday, July 16 and run through Aug. 27.

Two levels of play will be offered: Minors, for youngsters who played rookie ball and older; and Majors, for youngsters aged 10-12.

Minors will play Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and Majors will play Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Both Minors and Majors will play Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. and noon on a rotating basis. Games will be held at both Upper and Lower Rotary each day. Each game will be preceded by a half-hour clinic presented by a series of top coaches in Little League, both present and past.

Games will be played for the pure pleasure of the sport of baseball. Everyone will bat, and everyone will play as many different positions as possible.

Coaches will offer tips throughout the games, and ensure that each child who participates has an equal opportunity.

Imagine the way things used to be. A barbecue roasting hot dogs while kids gather in the sandlot on a summer evening or Saturday morning, just to play baseball together with little, if any, interference from adults. Augment that with top-notch instruction, including the “tip of the week,” each session and the assurance that everyone “gets a chance” to show their stuff – and you’ll see why Rotary Park will be the place to be these coming summer nights.

Register on-line at Cost for the entire summer session is $40. By registering in advance, kids will get caps and be guaranteed a spot in the lineup for every game they attend.

Youngsters can also participate on a game-by-game, first-come, first-serve, basis at a cost of $5 per game. However, spots are not guaranteed, caps are not provided and registration forms will have to be completed by a parent for each game attended.

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