Sports

Spartans rally in second game to crack state’s top 10 at 3A tourney

Alison Reichert fires in a pitch as the Spartan pitcher tries to keep the Golden Eagles from scoring again late in Bainbridge’s first game at state.  - Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review
Alison Reichert fires in a pitch as the Spartan pitcher tries to keep the Golden Eagles from scoring again late in Bainbridge’s first game at state.
— image credit: Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review

The alarm clock went off a little late.

But after the third inning of the Spartans’ first game at the 3A Washington State Softball Championships, Bainbridge awoke from its slumber and the sleepwalking was over.

Good thing, too, because Ferndale was doing a pretty good job of creating a nightmare for the Spartans. The Golden Eagles capitalized on early miscues by Bainbridge to score two runs in the first, and three more in the second inning.

After a three-run third inning — fueled by Drew Westford’s homer into the wind and over the right-field fence — Ferndale led 8-0.

The Spartans held the Golden Eagles scoreless in the fourth, but Ferndale, a team making its first appearance at state since their slow-pitch days in 1992 — scored on another Bainbridge error in the fifth inning. The Eagles added another run and then a two-run homer by Kadence Kane that cleared the center-field fence.

Now down 12-0, the Spartans finally found some offense and scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and thankfully avoided an early end to the game via the 10-run mercy rule.

Bainbridge added two more runs in the seventh, and with the 12-5 loss, entered loser-out consolation play.

Eyes wide open, the Spartans roared back to stop Liberty 5-0.

Game three, however, found the Spartans in a low-scoring struggle against University (Spokane), and the Titans escaped with a 3-1 win after Bainbridge’s offense evaporated after the first inning of their third game at state.

Bainbridge finished tied for ninth at state with a final record of 17-8.

Though the team was stopped just short of trophy territory, Bainbridge is solidifying its status as a perennial player at the season’s end in Lacey.

It was Bainbridge’s eighth consecutive trip to the state tournament, a mark that stands as the longest ongoing streak at the 4A or 3A level.

Ferndale Coach Holly Hilton credited a total team effort in their win over the Spartans — the Golden Eagles’ deep bench definitely helped, she said — and said she was impressed by Bainbridge’s power at the plate.

“We knew that they could hit the ball. But they showed the power all the way through [the lineup]. Their number nine hitter crushed one to the fence, and hit one over,” Hilton recalled.

“The other thing that surprised me was, they were hitting to both left and right fields — same batter,” Hilton added. “That shows they can go with the pitch.”

Bainbridge Coach Liz McCloskey said the Spartans stumbled early and took a while to recover.

“Our mentality in the first three innings was awful, to be honest.

It was awful,” McCloskey said. “We had gone over everything, all the mistakes that had been made during the practice, and the what ifs. What if this happens, what if this happens. And we worked on all of that,” she said. “As a coach, you hope to put the kids on the field, you hope it happens. But sometimes it doesn’t.

The mood changed once the Spartans scored, however.

“We definitely tried to rally back,” McCloskey said. “Our bats finally came alive a little bit, and we kept ourselves in the game and avoided the 10-run rule.”

Natalie Allen led the Spartan bats and went 2-for-4 at the plate. She also hit a home run and finished with three RBIs.

Natalya Niehaus went 1-for-2 for BHS, with a double and an RBI.

Bainbridge looked like a different team against the Patriots.

The Spartans rolled to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, added a run in the fifth, and held Liberty scoreless the whole way — thanks largely to a clutch catch by Kate Kinney when the Patriots were threatening to score late in the contest.

“She read that ball perfectly and we need to have a little bit more communication just to avoid the collision, but she saw the ball off the bat perfectly and made a great play out there,” McCloskey said.

It was Bainbridge’s second big win against the team from Issaquah; the Spartans beat Liberty 13-12 in the SeaKing District Tournament on May 21.

The coach praised her Spartans for their remarkable turnaround in the second game.

“We are definitely awake now, and ready to play, that’s for sure,” McCloskey said afterward.

Riley Gregoire paced the Spartan offense with a three-run triple in the third inning. She finished with 2-for-4 batting and three RBIs.

Niehaus went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and fellow Spartan Deahna King went 3-for-4 in the game.

Alison Reichert threw a complete game for the Spartans to pick up her eighth win. She gave up just three hits in seven innings, and had four strikeouts.

“Ali threw a great game on the mound,” McCloskey said.

The coach recalled how the Spartan senior wanted to put the next game on her shoulders — well, her arm, actually — after the Ferndale loss.

“She said — before we were even thinking about what we were going to do — she said, ‘I want to pitch.’ And I said great, let’s go do it.

“When somebody comes to you and says that, you know they are ready to go and they want to do whatever they can,” McCloskey said.

Reichert got some much needed help, as well.

“I think our defense was great, too, behind her, which was awesome to see,” the coach added. “We were back to our normal form of getting outs, and making plays and being ready for everything.”

The third game of the day turned out to be the Spartans’ final innings at Lacey’s Regional Athletic Complex.

Bainbridge and University both scored runs in the first — Allen knocked in the Spartans’ sole score — but bats on both sides stayed silent until the bottom of the fourth, when the Titans put up two unanswered runs and held on for the win.

Afterward, the Spartans lingered long on the field, with plenty of hugs and laughs for the team’s three seniors; Catie Muir, Carolyn Williams and Reichert.

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