By Meg Wochnick
TUMWATER -- Traditionally, Alexa McDaniel isnt known for her bat. Perhaps she should be now. Theres a reason why the Tumwater High School senior catcher batted cleanup Friday against W.F. West in a rematch of last Mays 2A state title game: clutch hitting.
McDaniels hot production at the plate continued in the teams 2A Evergreen Conference fastpitch showdown -- the teams first meeting since the state title game 10 months ago -- when McDaniel drove in three runs, including the game-winning RBI single to help the Thunderbirds prevail in eight innings, a 5-4 victory, over W.F. West, the defending 2A state champions.
I cant stop smiling, said McDaniel, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBI.
The rivalry between Tumwater and W.F. West in fastpitch dates back years, but it extended to a new level during last springs postseason when W.F. West topped Tumwater twice in two weeks -- in the 2A District IV title game in Centralia, as well as the state title game, 15-3, in Selah.
New teams, new season. Advantage, Tumwater, in Round 1.
The girls, playing in a game like this, goes a long way, first-year Tumwater coach Nedrow said.
Both teams went scoreless until the eighth after the Bearcats put up two runs to the the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth.
Tumwater led off the bottom of the eighth with the top of its lineup, jumpstarted by Kaylene Glasgos near-homerun shot to deep left field, falling just feet from the outfield fense and settling for a double. With one out and a walk by Alyssa Ubrun, the reigning 2A EvCo offensive MVP, it was McDaniels turn at the plate again hoping to repeat what she did in the third inning. Her two-RBI double was part of a four-run inning that gave Tumwater its first lead of the game.
All she needed was a hit to bring home Glasgo, standing on second base.
I knew we had great base runners (Glasgo and Ubrun) on, McDaniel said. I was surprisingly relaxed. Thats how I hit it. I stayed calm on the outside pitch. It felt good. My bats been hot right now.
McDaniel took the 0-1 pitch from W.F. West pitcher Ali Graham and belted past shortstop Jessica McKay, driving in Glasgo for the game-winning run.
It took awhile for the Tumwater (3-0 overall, 2-0 2A EvCo) offense to get going in a game that had a rain delay, strong winds, and puddles in the infield. The lineup was 0-for-8 before the bats came alive with two outs in the third. With the Bearcats leading, 2-0, Tumwater pounded out five consecutive hits, including back-to-back two-RBI hits by Ubrun and McDaniel, which put the T-Birds ahead, 4-2.
W.F. West tied it up at 4-all when Marissa Reynolds, W.F. Wests all-time career home runs leader bound for Princeton, scored on a Chloe Lewis double. That run might not have come if Reynolds, who finished 2-for-4, wasn't called safe at third after colliding with Ubrun on her way from second to third base right as Ubrun tried to make a defensive play on the ball.
Tumwater freshman pitcher Jocelyn Glasgo struck out four batters over eight innings in the victory.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473