CENTRALIA – It wasn’t the day Kierstin Smith and her Tumwater teammates had hoped for to begin the postseason.
After Thursday’s opening day of the Class 2A District IV fastpitch tournament at Fort Borst Park, the Thunderbirds find themselves in a must-win situation today after splitting their first two games – they must win two games today to advance to the state tournament May 27-28 in Selah.
Tumwater dropped a heartbreaker to Centralia, 3-2, then bounced back in a big way, defeating Mark Morris, 9-0, to remain alive in the consolation round.
Today, the Evergreen Conference champion Thunderbirds take on Woodland, the defending state champion and No. 1 seed from the 2A Greater St. Helens League, at 4 p.m. in a loser-out game. The winner of Tumwater-Woodland faces the winner of Aberdeen-R.A. Long at 6 p.m. for the third and final seed to state. Woodland (19-1) defeated Black Hills, 8-2, then fell to Chehalis in the semifinals, 6-5, for its first loss of the season.
“We’re winning everything from here on out, no losses,” said Smith, who struck out six and allowed only four hits in the win against the Monarchs. “If we play ball like we know how, we can totally win.”
It will be an all-EvCo final in today’s district title game at 4 p.m. between Chehalis and Centralia. The Bearcats defeated R.A. Long and Woodland, while the Tigers upended Tumwater and Aberdeen to reach the title game. Centralia and Chehalis earned the top two berths to state.
Black Hills, playing in its first postseason in six years, saw its season end at 5-16 after losses to Woodland, 8-2, and R.A. Long, 6-4 in eight innings.
The Thunderbirds (16-3) looked to be well on their way to the district semifinal game after earning a 2-0 lead going into the sixth inning against Centralia. But in the top of the sixth, the Tigers’ Erika Brower launched a go-ahead three-run home run, and the Tigers held on for the win.
Tumwater wasn’t down for long after the game, however. Against Mark Morris, Tumwater pounded out 15 hits and scored five runs in the first two innings, including four runs on four consecutive hits with only one out in the second to build a quick 5-0 lead. Smith held Mark Morris to only two extra-base hits.
Tumwater coach Clay Hill said his team was tense against the Tigers, but loosened up against the Monarchs.
“We played much more loose, much more relaxed and enjoyed the game more,” Hill said. “That’s the way we should play.”
Gabby Vidallion was 3-for-4 with an RBI and was one of five players who had a multi-hit game. Ashley Wells was 2-for-2 with a triple and Alyssa Ubrun had two doubles and an RBI.
BLACK HILLS OUSTED
The Wolves and Mark Morris were the two teams from the eight-team tournament that were eliminated from with two losses.
The 6-4 loss against R.A. Long was only the second extra-inning game Black Hills has played in all season. The Lumberjills scored two runs in the top of the eighth, and the Wolves couldn’t find the equalizer.
Against an unbeaten Woodland team, the Beavers blasted three home runs – by Emily Holt, Taylor Blanchard and Kylie Moses. Holt and Moses’ home runs were nearly caught by Wolves center fielder Makenzy Tarrow, in full-body extension, knocking down the outfield fence both times in the process.
Holt (three-run homer) and Moses (solo homer) accounted for a 4-0 lead in the second inning, as the pair hit back-to-back home runs. The three home runs accounted for seven of the Beavers’ eight runs.
Black Hills shortstop Taylor Pottschmidt was 3-for-4 with an RBI and accounted for three of her team’s seven hits.
Black Hills had four consecutive hits to start the third inning, and Pottschmidt’s RBI single with the bases loaded followed by Tarrow’s sacrifice fly cut the deficit to 4-2.
Black Hills’ last playoff appearance was in 2005 – the year the Wolves won the Pacific-9 Conference league, District IV and Class 3A state titles.