Upstart WV pushes CHS
to the brink
West Valley High (Yakima) pushed Colville High (23-1) to the brink of elimination on Saturday afternoon at Vaagen Park before the Indians got a walk-off two-run double from senior catcher Jammie Madonna to post a dramatic 6-5 win and propel CHS to the State 2A Tournament that starts Friday morning at Carlon Park in Selah.
CHS head coach Jim Ebelâ€™s team started off fast enough in the bottom of the first inning with four runs. But that was the extent of the CHS offense until Ebelâ€™s drama crew put together their game-winning rally in the bottom of the seventh to transform what would have been an upset for the ages into something akin to sheer relief.
â€śThat was a great game for us to gain some confidence and realize that we can win games when weâ€™re not playing our best,â€ť Ebel said when it was all over. â€śGood teams find ways to win and this was certainly a team effort.â€ť
Colville earns the No. 2 seed from District 5-6-7 to State. West Valleyâ€™s season has ended. Also earning a State bid in regional crossover action last Saturday was Othello, a 2-1 winner over Great Northern League runner-up Deer Park.
Selah and Ellensburg qualified out of the Central Washington Athletic Conference District Tournament and will be in the 16-team State 2A field.
Selah downed Ellensburg 16-6 in the CWAC District championship game last Thursday.
Colville could have been lulled to sleep some by the fact that West Valley (13-11) had been blown out 21-1 in the CWAC District tournament last Thursday by Othello. It probably didnâ€™t help any either that the Indians got off to a fast 4-0 first inning start against the Rams in front of a big CHS crowd last Saturday.
â€śEveryone kept telling us how easy this was going to be,â€ť Ebel mused. â€śThen we got those four runs in the first and everyone thinks itâ€™s a done deal.â€ť
In this one, Colville came close to being a done deal.
Even the most ardent of pessimistâ€™s could probably have been accused of some over the top optimism in this one. After all, there was that healthy early lead and the fact that GNL MVP McKenna Cabbage was pretty much on cruise control. The junior took a no-hitter into the fateful WV sixth inning.
In the sixth, several things conspired to turn the game from droll to dramatic.
A perfect storm
Two key Colville errors, all four West Valley hits and a head-scratching reversal of a call at the plate by the home plate umpire all conspired to transform a relatively easy win into some gut-wrenching stress for the Indians.
Only one of the Ramsâ€™ hits was solidly struck, but then thatâ€™s softball sometimes.
â€śThe rest of them were an assortment of hand stingers, bloops and choppers that managed to find holes,â€ť Ebel said. â€śThere certainly wasnâ€™t anything wrong with the pitching.â€ť
Cabbage didnâ€™t give up an earned run. She struck out 15 and walked only one.
The West Valley rally started in the top of the sixth when the leadoff hitter was safe on a high-chopper that handcuffed second baseman Hannah Smith. After a Cabbage strikeout, a sharp single to centerfield put runners on first and second base. The second infield single of the inning loaded the bases with one out.
A fly ball to centerfielder Kayla Howes, who would play prominently in the seventh inning Colville rally, was dropped. That scored a run and made it 4-1.
The umpiring crew got involved in the action at this point. Colville proceeded to get a force out at the plate for the second out. But hold on to the second-guessing. After the out call at the plate, the plate umpire overruled his own call (with a little help from his crew mates) and determined that Madonna had interfered with the WV base-runner heading home.
All of a sudden, the score was 4-3 and the locals were getting a little restless.
A blooper behind second base fell in front of the diving Howes and two more runs scored.
Delivering two-run singles in the inning for West Valley were Dawnie Bryant and Jessica Ishizaka.
Colville went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the top of the seventh, Cabbage, who struck out the side in the second and third innings, got the first two West Valley hitters on strikeouts.
At that point, CHS left-fielder Miranda Tostenson turned in one of the best defensive plays of the season when she hauled down a hard-hit drive with an over-the-shoulder catch for the third out.
That catch, which robbed the WV hitter of extra bases, energized the Indians heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
â€śMirandaâ€™s catch really energized us,â€ť Ebel conceded. â€śShe has been working on running down fly balls with her glove tucked so she can cover as much ground as possible. Well, it all came together on that shot deep to left-center.
â€śEveryone was fired up and ready to go after that.â€ť
Howes got it started in that fateful bottom of the seventh inning with a great at bat that ultimately led to a hard-hit single down the third base line.
Ebel appreciated the effort, which jump-started the biggest inning of the season for Colville to date.
â€śKayla is basically a rookie playing out of position (sheâ€™s the back-up catcher to Madonna) and thrown into the fray in an emergency,â€ť Ebel said of his sophomore.
â€śHer gutty at bat to get on base gave everyone hope. I donâ€™t know how many pitches she fouled off, but she finally hit one hard down the third base line to start things off.â€ť
After that, Tostenson and Kellum laid down great bunts and were aboard safely in front of Madonna, who was 2-4 with a pair of doubles and four big RBIs.
â€śJammieâ€™s at bat was an epic battle too,â€ť Ebel admitted.
Madonna, headed to North Idaho College next fall to play softball, was in a 1-2 hole early before fouling off several pitches.
â€śBut Jammie hung tough until she was able to square one up,â€ť Ebel said.
The walk-off two-run single that got to the left-centerfield fence was scorched and just out of reach of the West Valley shortstopâ€™s glove.
â€śI think Jammie was crying tears of joy before she reached second base (on that game-winning hit),â€ť Ebel added.
Other CHS offensive highlights: shortstop Kellum was 2-4 with a triple. She scored twice. Cabbage was 3-3 with a double and an RBI.
Big first inning
In the bottom of the first inning, Colville got off to a fast start before the Indiansâ€™ bats went silent. Kellum was aboard on a bunt single and continued on to second base on a throwing error. Right-fielder Leanna Carr plated Kellum with an RBI single.
Madonna singled to put runners on second and third for clean-up hitter Cabbage, who laced a two-RBI double to make it 3-0.
Smithâ€™s infield ground out plated Colvilleâ€™s fourth run.