Coupeville High School softball team found a great way to start the season after suffering through two rainouts, winning a thriller over visiting rival South Whidbey 9-8 Tuesday, March 19.
The Wolves came back three times to grab the win, including scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh. McKayla Bailey, battling through a hand injury, ripped a double to drive in the winning run.
The two clubs were knotted at 7 heading into the final inning. South Whidbey entered the seventh with the top of its order coming up. Chantel Brown lined her third hit of the game to get things started. Anticipating Brown may try to steal, Coupeville co-coach David King called for a pitchout. Brown, indeed, took off and was thrown out by Bessie Walstad.
The out became even more important when Haley Viers followed with a double. Singles by Anne Madsen and Ellie Green gave the Falcons the lead.
South Whidbey eventually loaded the bases. Coupeville third baseman Madi Roberts cut down one runner at the plate on a grounder for the second out. Maria Rockwell struck out the next batter to end the inning and limit the damage.
Coupeville's Haley Sherman walked on a full count to begin the final Wolf rally. Bree Messner moved her up with a sacrifice bunt and Chevy Reyes pushed Sherman to third with a ground out.
Down to the final strike, Madeline Strasburg fouled of several two-strike pitches before earning a walk.
With Roberts at the plate, Sherman scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Roberts walked, which brought up Bailey, setting up the game-winning double.
Bailey, who opened the game as Coupeville's starting pitcher, took a hot grounder off her right hand in the second inning. Her hand bruised and swelled up, but Bailey "toughed it out," according to King, and pitched four strong innings.
Rockwell entered in the fifth and "took over right where McKayla left off with strong pitching," King said.
South Whidbey scored two in the first inning and another in the second. Coupeville countered with one in the first and two in the third to tie it up.
The Falcons put up two more in the fourth to regain the lead, then Coupeville took its first lead with four in the fourth, making it 7-5. South Whidbey added two in the fifth to set the stage for the exciting seventh inning.
Roberts, who walked four times, played a roll in much of the scoring. She walked, stole a base and scored on a Rockwell sacrifice in the first.
In the four-run fourth, she walked again and scored after singles by Rockwell and Hailey Hammer. Walstad drove in the second run, then two more scored on a Falcon throwing error.
The Wolves overcame a strong offensive effort by the Falcons, who finished with 15 hits, including six doubles and a triple.
King said, "Overall we did a pretty good job of limiting their scoring when they looked to have big innings."
He added, "Very windy and cold, the weather affected both teams on defense. A normal fly ball made it an adventure in the field."
"It wasn’t a pretty game due to weather and first-game nerves," King said, "but we didn’t give up and kept battling. It was a good win to get and we know what we need to work on to continue to get better."
Walstad and Hammer each finished with two singles, while Roberts and Bailey slashed doubles. Messner, Rockwell and Sherman collected the other Coupeville hits.
The Wolves (1-0) go to Duvall to meet Cedarcrest (3-0) at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 21, and then host Port Townsend at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 23, in a nonleague game.