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State bound: Coupeville advances | Softball
The Coupeville High School softball team enacted a little revenge to complete its improbable journey to the state tournament.
The Wolves defeated Blaine 7-4 Saturday, May 24, at Sedro-Woolley's Janiki Playfields to grab the fifth and final seed out of the tri-district playoffs and to qualify for the state 1A tournament in Richland May 30 and 31.
This will be only the second trip to state for a Coupeville softball team. The Wolves finished third in 2002, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Adna.
The final step to state this spring was through Blaine, which had walloped the Wolves 20-4 just a week earlier in the district tournament. This time around, Coupeville built a 6-0 lead against the Borderittes and survived a late Blaine rally and some controversy to secure the state slot.
Coupeville entered the postseason with a 4-15 record; not a mark usually associated with state-tournament types. The record, however, was misleading. Fourteen of the losses came to 2A schools, and when the Wolves faced same-sized 1A foes during the regular season, they posted a 3-1 record.
Coupeville went 2-2 in the district tournament, finishing fourth and earning a spot in tri-district.
They opened tri-district with a 12-6 drubbing of Eatonville in a loser-out game, then fell to Lynden Christian 8-0. That set up the showdown with Blaine for a state berth.
Coupeville stunned the Borderittes with a five-run second inning. Two walks, singles by Tiffany Briscoe and Madi Roberts and a three-run double by Hailey Hammer highlighted the inning.
Briscoe was hit by a pitch in the fourth and scored on a single by Hammer.
Roberts singled and scored the Wolves' final run on McKayla Bailey's base hit in the sixth.
Blaine scored a controversial run in the second. A long fly to center bounced once and through the fence; the umpire, however, said it cleared the fence for a home run.
Blaine rallied late, scoring two in the fifth on three hits and two errors. A legitimate home run added a run in the sixth.
In the seventh, the first three Blaine hitters reached base, but none scored. With two on and one out, Coupeville pitcher Bailey faced the Borderitte hitter who was awarded the phantom home run. The hitter also had two singles in the game, but Bailey got her to pop up behind first base. Second baseman Emily Coulter raced over, snared the shot fly and flipped to first baseman Hammer for the game-ending double play and a trip to state.
Roberts finished with three hits, and Hammer had two hits and four RBI.
Co-coach David King also praised the hustle of Roberts on a play that symbolized the effort and determination of his team. With third base uncovered, shortstop Roberts, who had the ball, sprinted to the base and dove head first, trying to tag a Borderitte who was scrambling back after rounding the base too far.
Coupeville flexed its muscle in the win over Eatonville. Maddi Strasburg slugged a home run, Hammer hit one off the fence and Haley Sherman belted two doubles for five RBI.
A run-scoring single by Hammer and a two-run double by Sherman ignited a five-run first inning.
The Wolves put the game away with three runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Bailey scored three runs and recorded seven strikeouts from the circle.
Emily Licence added a run-scoring single.
The offense sputtered in the loss to Lynden Christian. The Wolves had only four this, and three came in the fifth inning thanks to Licence, Roberts and Bree Messner. Bailey singled in the fourth.
Left fielder Sherman was injured trying to make a diving catch and missed the Blaine game. She may not be ready for state, King said.
“This team is playing with confidence,” King said. “Different players are stepping up and contributing. Case in point, Tiffany, who got the start in game three, had an RBI single.
“McKayla is a warrior. She went the distance in all three games and pitched three outstanding games.
“The leaders are leading and the young players have stepped up their game. We are having productive at bats throughout.”