Colville High (24-3) has finished another memorable fastpitch softball campaign, winning a school record 23 straight games before losing their opener in the rain-drenched State 2A softball tournament last Friday and Saturday at Carlon Park in Selah and ultimately finishing 2-2.
The Great Northern League and District 7 champion Indians didn’t open the tournament until 6 p.m. last Friday night because of heavy rain in the Yakima valley that drenched softball and baseball fields and sent tournament officials scrambling for Diamond Dry and pumps.
For the second time in three days late last week, drenching rains became the story line of the 2A fastpitch tournament and Class 2A and 1A baseball semifinals at Yakima County Stadium. The Class 2B and 1B fastpitch tournaments at Kiwanis Park in Yakima were postponed altogether on Friday and ran Saturday and Sunday.
The first round of the Class 2A fastpitch tournament at Carlon Park was delayed until Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. It had been scheduled for a 10 a.m. start on Friday, but standing water on the Selah complex made that impossible.
The Class 1A-2B, 1B tennis tournament was moved to the Yakima Tennis Club’s indoor facility.
More than 0.7 inches of rain fell in Yakima last Friday, easily breaking the 1998 record of 0.4 inches for the day, according to the National Weather Service.
The rain delays certainly didn’t help Colville, who lost a tough opener to eventual State 2A runner-up R.A. Long (Longview) and their veteran four-year starting pitcher and YouTube sensation, Tori Almos.
Colville fell behind 7-0 early before mounting a late-game rally that came up just short in a 7-5 loss.
Defensively, the Indians played as badly as they have all season, committing four errors. It looked like more.
It also didn’t help that junior pitcher McKenna Cabbage issued eight walks.
“After three different rain delays and sitting around the hotel room for six hours longer than we wanted to, game time finally arrived, but we didn’t,” CHS head coach Jim Ebel said of a CHS team that simply didn’t play well early-on against R.A. Long.
Four infield errors and a couple of key R.A. Long hits helped stake a very solid ballclub to that big early lead.
“Our scorekeeper had us for four errors, but there were some other balls that could’ve been caught too,” Ebel said of the poor defensive effort.
“We just couldn’t make a play behind Mac (Cabbage). Plays we normally make in our sleep suddenly became spectator events. I don’t know if it was nerves or the delays…or a combination of both. I do know that we were really prepared and confident when our heads hit the pillow the night before the game.”
Cabbage, fashionably wild at times against R.A. Long, worked out of jams early and often. A pickoff play at second base on a throw from catcher Jammie Madonna likely saved the Indians at least a run in the top of the first inning.
A couple of Cabbage strikeouts (she had seven K’s in the game) got Colville out of a first inning jam.
Almos started fast for R.A. Long, striking out the side in the bottom half of the first inning.
R.A. Long scored three runs in the top of the third inning, taking advantage of a pair of Cabbage walks, a bloop single and a three-run double off the top of the left-field fence.
The Indians recorded the final out at the plate.
Colville went quietly in the bottom of the third inning.
In the fourth, R. A. Long added four more runs and bolted to a 7-0 lead. A walk, two CHS errors and a single set up a three-run home run over the centerfield fence.
Colville finally mounted some offense in the fifth inning. Second baseman Hannah Smith, who hit .500 in league play and .400 in the state tournament, was aboard on an R.A. Long error. Smith was Colville’s first base-runner of the game.
Third baseman Emily Poling then laced a 1-1 pitch over the centerfield fence for her first career home run.
That two-run home run seemed to energize Colville.
“We kept preaching to the girls to aim above the ball with the bat head and it finally clicked in,” Ebel said of Colville’s early inability to get anything going offensively against one of the tournament’s best pitchers in Almos. “We were swinging under her rise ball over and over again. I’ve seen that before at the state tournament and I wasn’t going to let it happen again. The girls made a great mid-game adjustment to their approach.”
Colville was finally getting to Almos and Cabbage was finding her groove. She only allowed two base-runners (both walks) in the final three innings.
Down 7-2, Colville wasn’t through. In the sixth inning, senior right-fielder Leanna Carr started the inning off with a single. Madonna doubled off the right field fence to put runners on second and third with no outs. Cabbage hit a shot to shortstop that was misplayed. Carr scored on the play to make it 7-3.
Smith then laced a single up the middle to score two more runs and make it 7-5. But the next three CHS hitters went down in order as Almos settled down.
In the seventh inning, Carr walked with two outs and Madonna was aboard on a sharp single to right-field. But an Almos strikeout ended the game and the late-game Colville rally had come up just short.
Ebel was proud of the way his team battled back from that big early deficit to make a game of it.
“This bunch of players has a lot of fight in them and that was certainly evident in this game,” the first year CHS head coach said. “We dug ourselves a big hole, though, and it’s tough against a good pitcher to come back from seven down in three innings.”
Madonna was 2-4 with a double. Poling had that big home run and two RBIs and Smith was 1-3 with two RBIs. Carr, Kayla Howes and Miranda Tostenson all singled for Colville.
Colville rebounded in the late game Friday night to overwhelm Olympic, 12-0, behind Cabbage’s four-hitter. The junior walked six and struck out four.
This one may have established a new benchmark for throw outs. Colville defensive players seemingly threw out Trojans at every turn.
“We were throwing people out all over the diamond,” Ebel said. “And Kayla Howes (centerfield) had a great game. She threw out runners at home and third base.
“Mac (Cabbage) pitched to contact, the defense did its job and we hit the ball. That’s how it’s supposed to work.”
Carr was the hitting star for the Indians, going 3-3 at the plate, scoring three times and driving in four runs. The big blow was her home run in the sixth inning.
Poling was 2-4 with a double. She scored twice. Tostenson was 2-3.
Olympic was simply no match for the Indians in this one. Colville started fast with two runs in the top of the first inning and kept up the onslaught.
In the second inning, Howell laced her second home run of the season, this one over the left-centerfield fence that made it 3-0.
Carr and Madonna RBI singles made it 5-0 and the rout was on.
In the bottom of the third, Madonna turned in a couple of defensive gems, throwing out a pair of runners at third base.
The Indians could have used some of those runs on Saturday. CHS managed only two runs in 12 innings.
But Colville and Cabbage were as good as they have been all season long in a well-played 2-0 win over a very good Aberdeen team on Saturday morning.
“Aberdeen was a very good team,” Ebel said. “They beat CWAC champion Ellensburg in the first round. We played solid the whole game.”
Cabbage pitched her best game of the tournament, scattering five hits, issuing only two walks and striking out six.
Cabbage was also 3-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles.
Ebel said he was impressed with his team’s play.
“For a tired-looking bunch of girls, we played flawlessly,” he said, adding ruefully that “we are definitely not a morning team. But somehow, we snapped to attention at game time and put together our best performance of the tournament.”
Colville touched Aberdeen pitching for nine hits, but the Indians couldn’t string anything together until the fourth inning.
In the Colville fourth, Madonna led off with a single. Cabbage followed with another single up the middle and the Indians were in business. Smith laced an RBI single back up the middle to make it 1-0.
Poling, who hit .415 for the tournament, delivered a two-out single up the middle to make it 2-0.
Ebel was beating himself up a little after Colville’s productive inning.
“I have to kick myself here a little,” Ebel said. “I should have bunted runners over in a couple of situations and we would have scored a couple more runs. Sometimes I have too much confidence in our hitting.”
Ebel was impressed with his team’s defense, it’s ability to shut down the Aberdeen short game and Cabbage.
“Pitching and defense carried us in this one. And this is the type of game that McKenna wants to throw. Cut down on the number of pitches she has to throw by reducing the free passes (walks).”
Cabbage tossed a complete game shutout on 102 pitches. In the R.A. Long loss, Cabbage threw 140 pitches and issued eight walks.
“In a long tournament, that begins to take a toll,” Ebel pointed out.
Offensively, the steady Smith was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Poling was 1-3 with an RBI and Tostenson (who hit a team-leading .600 at state) continued her hot hitting with a 2-3 effort at the plate.
Against a deep and talented Othello team on Saturday afternoon, the Huskies did pretty much whatever they wanted in an 11-0 win (five innings).
Othello may have been the best team in the tournament.
“For my money, that was the best team in the tournament,” Ebel said. “They lost a heart-breaker in the first round on Friday, but went on to win four games on Saturday and take third. That’s a deep team with good athletes at every position and a lot of team speed.”
That said, Colville didn’t really show up.
The Indians managed only four hits, but only had one strikeout. CHS put the ball in play—it tended to be hit at someone.
“It was a strange game that way…we kept putting the ball in play, but it was usually right at somebody. Their pitcher wasn’t all that dominant, but she had just enough movement on her pitches that we never did hit anything real hard.”
Howes hit the team’s hardest ball. What looked to be an RBI single to right-field turned into an out at first base.
“The ball was hit so hard that the right-fielder took the ball on one hop and threw Kayla out at first. That was really our only good scoring opportunity.”
Cabbage surrendered six earned runs, eight hits and struck out seven. She issued eight walks.
“I think Mac just hit the wall against Othello,” Ebel said. “Like her dad said, ‘she must have a 500 pitch limit this weekend.’”
Next season, Ebel and assistant coach Tim Vaughn hope to get Cabbage some help in the circle and develop a deeper pitching staff. That just didn’t work out this season.
“You just can’t go into a big tournament like this with just one seasoned pitcher,” Ebel said. “Unless, of course, you don’t lose any early games. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for us.”
In addition to Cabbage’s yeoman duty, Madonna logged all the catching duties for the season—and for the tournament.
Despite the tough ending, the 2013 season was one to remember for Colville. The Indians were GNL and district champions and won that school record 23 games after an opening season loss to a Lake City team that went 24-0 and captured the Idaho 5A championship. It was their second 5A title in three years.
Colville was also missing a couple of key components from its line-up late in the season—hot-hitting outfielder Jessi Wittmeyer (knee) and infielder April Hinds. Both are juniors.
“Going .500 at state is nothing to sneeze at,” Ebel said. “And we had players who never started a varsity game before…they stepped up to play key roles on another good Colville softball team.
Colville loses four key seniors: catcher Madonna, shortstop Taylor Kellum, right-fielder Leanna Carr and first baseman Jalene Howell.
“Fortunately, we still have a solid nucleus with possibly six returning starters,” Ebel said. “The future looks bright for Colville softball.
Selah downed R.A. Long 9-7 to captured the State 2A title last Saturday. It was the Vikings’ first-ever state softball title.
Selah (24-2) had reached the semifinals for three straight years. For the first time in those three years, the Vikings came up with the gold ball and the championship trophy.