For Capital fastpitch team, all’s right again with return to state tourney

Contributing writerMay 29, 2014 

Smiling Capital senior Britni Wilson worked on becoming a better hitter over the winter. It paid off as she hit .350 during the season with four home runs. Wilson believes becoming a better hitter has made her a better pitcher.

TONY OVERMAN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

An appearance at the state tournament had become the expectation within the Capital High School fastpitch team.

Over the past two decades, the Cougars had established themselves as one of the state’s premier programs. Five trips to the state title game with four championships provided plenty of support to Capital’s claim to being a dominant force.

So when Capital bowed out after two games at the 2011 Class 3A state tournament, then-freshman Britni Wilson didn’t think much of it. After all, she had three more years of postseason play to look forward to.

“We had been to state five out of the previous six years,” Wilson said. “You just think it’s always going to be this way.”

The next two seasons, however, ended in disappointment for Wilson and her teammates as the Cougars were eliminated at districts.

“You start to understand just how difficult it is (to get to state),” Wilson said. “You realize how much work it requires. It makes

you appreciate it more when you finally get there.”

After a remarkable run at the district tournament, where the Cougars knocked off Greater Saint Helens League champion R.A. Long and 2A Evergreen Conference rival Tumwater — a squad they were 0-3 against during the regular season — Capital is returning to the state tournament after its two-year hiatus. The Cougars (11-12) open with Sequim at noon Friday at Selah’s Carlon Park. Tumwater (18-4) faces Fife at 10 a.m., the same time W.F. West (22-0) plays White River.

Capital finished fourth in the EvCo and is under .500 for the season, but lately, the Cougars have hardly resembled a team with those types of credentials.

In the opening round of the district tournament, the Cougars entered the sixth inning trailing R.A. Long by two runs before going on to win, 3-2. The big momentum shift came from Rachel Erickson, whose two-run home run in the sixth not only proved to be the game-winner, but also gave the team a needed boost of confidence.

“Once Rachel got that hit, we all just knew we could play with anyone,” Wilson said.

A 4-2 victory over Tumwater followed in the semifinals. The Thunderbirds had made short work of the Cougars during the three regular-season matchups, outscoring Capital by a combined 32-8.

“I’m extremely fortunate to take over a program that already has a lot of athletes. These girls know how to play,” said Capital coach Kelsey Haupert, who helped Black Hills win the Class 3A state title as a player during her junior season in 2005. “The big thing we’ve really focused on is the mental aspect of the sport, what steps you need to take to win.”

For Wilson, that meant being a bigger factor in the batter’s box.

A four-year starter, Wilson burst onto the scene during her freshman season as a pitcher, earning first-team all-3A Narrows League honors. She has long been regarded as one of the area’s best pitchers, and her talent on the mound has only improved over the years.

But it came by sacrificing another part of her game.

“I had to become a better hitter,” Wilson said. “I had spent so much time focusing on my pitching that I would let my hitting slide. This last winter, I was in the cages every day trying to improve. I didn’t take any time off.”

It wasn’t as if Wilson couldn’t hit before. She was just limited, looking for that specific pitch at which she was comfortable swinging.

One dedicated offseason later, and Wilson, who bats third in Capital’s lineup, has transformed into a multidimensional hitter.

“Actually, I just try to stay out of my own head now. I try not to overthink everything when I hit,” said Wilson, who is batting .350 with four home runs, the last coming in Capital’s district win over Tumwater. “I think the biggest benefit (of becoming a better hitter) is it has helped me as a pitcher.”

It also can’t hurt having Haupert, who played collegiately at Purdue and Central Washington, oversee her swings during practice. Haupert left Black Hills with the school home run record, and during her sophomore season at Purdue, she hit .323 with seven homers.

Wilson, who along with Sammy Williamson are the only seniors on the roster, will once again be asked to do a lot for the Cougars on the mound and at the plate. She is completely comfortable and confident in both roles.

“We went through a rough stretch during the regular season,” Wilson said, “but I think we are a different team now. Every one of us believes we are supposed to be here.”

3A/2A state fastpitch TOURNey SCHEDULES (both tournaments double elimination)

CLASS 3A

At Regional Athletic Complex, Lacey

FRIDAY

First round

Gm 1: Ferndale vs. Bainbridge, 9 a.m., Field 1

Gm 2: Liberty vs. Kamiakin, 9 a.m., F2

Gm 3: Shadle Park vs. Mountain View, 9 a.m., F3

Gm 4: Bonney Lake vs. Mount Si, 9 a.m., F4

Gm 5: Columbia River vs. Juanita, noon, F1

Gm 6: Prairie vs. Glacier Peak, noon, F2

Gm 7: Meadowdale vs. University, noon, F3

Gm 8: Holy Names vs. Enumclaw, noon, F4

Consolation, first round

Gm 9: Loser 1 vs. Loser 2, 2 p.m., F1

Gm 10: Loser 3 vs. Loser 4, 2 p.m., F2

Gm 11: Loser 5 vs. Loser 6, 2 p.m., F3

Gm 12: Loser 7 vs. Loser 8, 2 p.m., F4

Championship, quarterfinals

Gm 13: Winner 1 vs. Winner 2, 4 p.m., F1

Gm 14: Winner 3 vs. Winner 4, 4 p.m., F2

Gm 15: Winner 5 vs. Winner 6, 4 p.m., F3

Gm 16: Winner 7 vs. Winner 8, 4 p.m., F4

Consolation, second round

Gm 17: Winner 9 vs. Loser 16, 6 p.m, F1

Gm 18: Winner 10 vs. Loser 15, 6 p.m., F2

Gm 19: Winner 11 vs. Loser 14, 6 p.m., F3

Gm 20: Winner 12 vs. Loser 13, 6 p.m., F4

SATURDAY

Championship, semifinals

Gm 21: Winner 13 vs. Winner 14, 9 a.m., F3

Gm 22: Winner 15 vs. Winner 16, 9 a.m., F1

Consolation, third round

Gm 23: Winner 17 vs. Winner 18, 9 a.m., F4

Gm 24: Winner 19 vs. Winner 20, 9 a.m., F2

Consolation, semifinals

Gm 25: Winner 23 vs. Loser 21, 11 a.m., F3

Gm 26: Winner 24 vs. Loser 22, 11 a.m., F4

Third/fourth place

Gm 27: Winner 25 vs. Winner 26, 1:30 p.m., F1

Championship, final

Gm 28: Winner 21 vs. Winner 22, 3:30 p.m., F1

CLASS 2A

At Carlon Park, Selah

FRIDAY

First round

Gm 1: Othello vs. Sultan, 10 a.m., Field 1

Gm 2: Tumwater vs. Fife, 10 a.m., F2

Gm 3: Anacortes vs. Colville, 10 a.m., F3

Gm 4: White River vs. W.F. West, 10 a.m., F4

Gm 5: Deer Park vs. Orting, noon, F1

Gm 6: Port Angeles vs. Lake Washington, noon, F2

Gm 7: Capital vs. Sequim, noon, F3

Gm 8: Lynden vs. Ellensburg, noon, F4

Consolation, first round

Gm 9: Loser 1 vs. Loser 2, 2 p.m., F4

Gm 10: Loser 3 vs. Loser 4, 2 p.m., F3

Gm 11: Loser 5 vs. Loser 6, 2 p.m., F2

Gm 12: Loser 7 vs. Loser 8, 2 p.m., F1

Championship, quarterfinals

Gm 13: Winner 1 vs. Winner 2, 4 p.m., F4

Gm 14: Winner 3 vs. Winner 4, 4 p.m., F3

Gm 15: Winner 5 vs. Winner 6, 4 p.m., F2

Gm 16: Winner 7 vs. Winner 8, 4 p.m., F1

Consolation, second round

Gm 17: Winner 9 vs. Loser 16, 6 p.m, F1

Gm 18: Winner 10 vs. Loser 15, 6 p.m., F2

Gm 19: Winner 11 vs. Loser 14, 6 p.m., F3

Gm 20: Winner 12 vs. Loser 13, 6 p.m., F4

SATURDAY

Championship, semifinals

Gm 21: Winner 13 vs. Winner 14, 10 a.m., F3

Gm 22: Winner 15 vs. Winner 16, 10 a.m., F4

Consolation, third round

Gm 23: Winner 17 vs. Winner 18, 10 a.m., F1

Gm 24: Winner 19 vs. Winner 20, 10 a.m., F2

Consolation, semifinals

Gm 25: Winner 23 vs. Loser 21, noon, F1

Gm 26: Winner 24 vs. Loser 22, noon, F2

Third/fourth place

Gm 27: Winner 25 vs. Winner 26, 2:30 p.m., F3

Championship, final

Gm 28: Winner 21 vs. Winner 22, 2 p.m., F4 preps.theolympian.com

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