Colville High is certainly no stranger to the State 1A or 2A softball tournament scene. The Indians have made the state tournament field in 1A or 2A for the past 13 straight seasons. That’s quite a record of achievement.
Seldom have the Indians (21-4) been out of the tournament on the first day. But that’s what happened last Friday when CHS opened with an impressive 7-2 win over Anacortes before losing to W.F. West (Chehalis) and right-hander Mattie Boucher in the quarterfinals late Friday afternoon, 5-1.
That loss set the stage for a loser-out game Friday night against eventual fourth place finisher, Port Angeles. The Indians fell behind 8-1 before rallying late but losing, 8-5.
Not at their best
CHS head coach Jim Ebel acknowledged that the Indians didn’t play their best softball against W.F. West and Port Angeles. And the team that the Indians beat soundly, Anacortes, battled back through the loser’s bracket to finish fourth.
“They (Anacortes) even beat W.F. West on Saturday,” Ebel said in post-mortem of another outstanding CHS softball season. “I think it all showed what a fresh pitcher means in these (State) games.”
Workhorse senior right-hander McKenna Cabbage, the two-time Great Northern League MVP, did yeoman work once again at State. But pitching three games in one day is asking a lot—a lot of wear and tear.
Cabbage took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of the win over Anacortes. But on a hot day in the Yakima Valley (Selah’s Carlon Park), Cabbage tired.
“In the second game against W.F. West, I could see that McKenna was tiring and her speed was going down,” Ebel said.
By contrast, the W.F. West pitcher, Boucher, the beneficiary of a rather generous strike zone, pitched her first game of the tournament and fanned 16 Colville hitters.
Yes, it’s tough to mount much of an offensive attack when you’re striking out 16 times.
“To be fair, she (Boucher) had really good stuff against us,” Ebel said of the senior standout. “Boucher was the best we have seen all year, even though we did manage six hits off her. But we couldn’t string anything together. We just didn’t play a sharp game. There were two unusual errors in the outfield and three total. That cost us two or three runs.”
Ebel isn’t one to grouse about balls and strikes, but “he was one of those umpires who likes to be the show…he rang kids up on both teams with balls.”
Ebel said he would love to see a rematch between Cabbage and Boucher when “Mac has her off-speed stuff working.”
Colville’s offense was pretty much silent against Port Angeles until late in the game.
“I was disappointed in how we hit the ball,” Ebel said of the Friday Night Lights’ special. “Their pitcher had decent speed, but it was nothing that should have shut us down. I kept thinking we were going to get to her eventually.”
Cabbage pitched the first inning against PA, then gave way to freshman, Gracie Schauls.
“What an introduction to State that was for her,” her coach pointed out. She dislocated her pinky finger (on her throwing hand) during a practice session the day before at Moses Lake.
“I was very thankful for her toughness,” Ebel acknowledged.
Down 8-1, Ebel said his veteran team never gave in or gave up. The Indians actually brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. A hard line drive out ended the game and Colville’s season.
“It was a sudden end to a great year,” Ebel said, adding that he appreciated the opportunity to coach “a great bunch of kids.”
The Indians lose seven seniors, but return some key personnel. Among the returning players next spring will be catcher Kayla Howes, who led CHS in hitting at State (.545). McKenna Iverson is solid with the glove and bat (first base) and Baylee Main will be back at shortstop.
“We have a bunch of good freshmen and sophomores just chomping at the bit to compete for spots,” Ebel added. “It should be an interesting season next year.”
Colville will return to the Northeast A League. Also moving down to challenge Class 1A power Lakeside will be Deer Park. The Stags (16-10), made their first State appearance since 2002.
Going into the tournament, the scribes had anointed W. F. West and Ellensburg as co-favorites to win the 2A tourney. Well, the CWAC co-champion and District winner exited quickly (out in two straight), while W.F. West, who came in with a gaudy 24-0 record and opened with wins over White River and Colville, couldn’t live up to the hype.
Surprising Lake Washington beat perennial 2A power Othello of the CWAC, 4-0, in the title game Saturday afternoon at Carlon Park.
Tori Bivens was nearly perfect for the Kangaroos (22-2), who will move back up to the 3A ranks next season with realignment. Bivens took a no-hitter into the seventh until she surrendered a harmless single to the Huskies with two outs.
Bivens, a freshman who has pitched in the Little League World Series, struck out 12.
The Kangaroos, who lost only to Class 3A and 4A competition this spring, lose only one senior on a very young squad. And no, Bivens isn’t Lake Washington’s best pitcher. That distinction goes to junior Maddie Brown, who had a 7-1 regular season record to Bivens’ 5-1.
But Brown sustained a broken bone in her non-pitching hand a week before the District tournament.
Three Lake Washington pitchers combined to give up just two runs in the four-game tourney run.
Lynden, bounced by Lake Washington, 10-0, in the semifinals, came back to beat Northwest Conference rival Anacortes, 6-1, in the third and fourth place game.
Cabbage was dominating against Anacortes, firing a thee-hitter and striking out 10.
Colville got on the board first with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Left-fielder Miranda Tostenson got it started with a two-out single up the middle. Howes followed with a single and Colville was in business with runners on first and second base. An intentional walk to Cabbage loaded the bases for third baseman Emily Poling, who drilled a two-run single up the middle for a CHS lead the Indians wouldn’t relinquish.
Iverson singled sharply to score Cabbage and make it 3-0.
All-GNL first team selection Hannah Smith turned in a defensive gem in the top of the fourth, making a diving stop of a sharply hit ground ball and throwing to first base from her knees for the out.
Colville added three more runs in the fourth inning with a pair of hits and three Anacortes errors.
Wittmeyer, Tostenson and Howes all had RBIs in the inning.
Out at the plate
Cabbage surrendered a two-run home run in the fifth inning that trimmed Colville’s lead to 7-2.
Cabbage got into some trouble in the bottom of the seventh before the Indians escaped from a dicey situation with a heads-up play.
With the bases loaded and one out, a Cabbage pitch got past Howes and went to the backstop. Howes retrieved the ball and threw a strike to Cabbage covering home. The tag was in time to get the runner from third base.
And no, the Anacortes third base coach didn’t send his lead runner trailing 7-2 in the seventh.
Colville scored its lone run of the game against W.F. West in the top of the first inning when Wittmeyer doubled up the right-centerfield alley, stole third base and came home on a wild pitch.
Colville got runners to first and second base in the second inning, but an inning-end strikeout ended that threat.
Cabbage struck out the side in the second inning.
In the third, Howes tripled, but was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the play into an inside the park home run.
In the bottom half of the third, W.F. West strung together four hits and plated four of their runs. A key Colville error in the outfield didn’t help matters.
In the top of the fourth inning, Cabbage doubled to lead off the inning, but the Indians couldn’t take advantage. She was ultimately stranded at third base.
Two hits and one Colville error plated the final W.F. West run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the Friday night game against Port Angeles, Cabbage managed to extricate herself from a bases loaded jam in the first inning with a key strikeout.
In the second, reliever Schauls managed to get PA in order.
A three-run home run in the top of the third inning staked Port Angeles to a 3-0 lead.
Howes’ RBI single cut the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning.
Port Angeles scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning. Four singles and a sacrifice fly accounted for the damage.
Trailing 8-1, Colville got an RBI single from Smith that made it 8-2. Pinch-hitter Donielle Howell laced an RBI single to rightfield that cut the deficit to 8-3 before the Indians staged a spirited seventh inning rally that came up just short.
Anac. 2 3 3
CHS 7 7 1
Hits: Tostenson, Howes 2, Poling, Iverson, Smith, Nussbaum. 2B Smith.
CHS 1 6 3
WF. 5 10 1
Hits: Wittmeyer, Tostenson, Howes, Cabbage, Iverson, Nussbaum. 2B Wittmeyer, Cabbage. 3B Howes.
PA 8 8 1
CHS 5 8 1
Hits: Tostenson 2, Howes 3, Poling 2, Howell. 2B Howes. 3B Howes.