Yelm High School’s perfect season ended one game short of perfect.
Saturday, in the Class 3A state championship game, the Tornados softball team rallied from an early deficit, but couldn’t catch Redmond.
The Mustangs (25-4) scored early and often, behind a solid outing by sophomore pitcher Kiki Milloy, who also scored five runs.
And, Redmond fended off multiple scoring threats by the Tornados to grind out a 9-5 win at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey, handing Yelm (28-1) its first loss of the season.
“We went down fighting,” Yelm senior Ally Choate said. “It wasn’t a shutout at all. We were constantly putting the ball in play, and constantly making good plays.
“I’m happy with how we played today. ... They executed better than we did, and I think they deserved to win, but I’m proud of us.”
Yelm fell into an early hole after Milloy hit a solo home run to center in the game’s first at-bat. The Mustangs added two more runs in the top of the third to make it 3-0.
Then a promising rally fizzled and more importantly, pitcher Drea Schwaier got injured. Yelm loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning, and Schwaier came to the plate.
Schwaier put the ball in play down the first-base line, but appeared to collide with Milloy running to first, and landed on her pitching hand.
Yelm scored to runs to close the gap on a two-run single by freshman Hailey Brown, but Schwaier’s day ended in the next inning.
“I couldn’t even feel my hand, it was hurting so bad,” Schwaier said. “I tried to stay in there. I didn’t want to come out.”
Schwaier threw one warm-up pitch in the top of the fourth, but couldn’t regain motion.
“One pitch, and you could tell it wasn’t going to happen,” Yelm coach Lindsay Walton said.
Schwaier, who carried a 0.61 ERA entering the state playoffs, eventually exited the game completely after swapping positions with sophomore Tayelyn Cutler, who came on in relief.
Schwaier’s hand was swollen and wrapped in a bandage, and she said she would get X-rays following the game.
Redmond built on its lead from there, scoring once in the fourth, and tacking on four runs in the top of the sixth.
Yelm rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth on singles by Jaeden Ells and Cutler, but didn’t get closer.
“They’re fighters,” Walton said. “They come out, they don’t give up, they fight until the very end.”
Milloy — the daughter of former Seattle Seahawks, University of Washington and Lincoln High School football player, Lawyer Milloy — bookended Redmond’s scoring with her second solo home run in the seventh.
But, after the final out was recorded, the Tornados tearfully cheered, embracing each other.
“I love this team, they’re my family,” senior Carley Nelson said. “I love each and every one of them. … I can’t think of a better place I’d want to be every day than with this team.”
Yelm also applauded the large crowd of community members that stayed to support the program long after the game concluded.
“There’s never going to be a better team that I’ve been on,” Schwaier said. “This community supports us, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
“Whether it’s blazing hot or freezing cold, there are people out here supporting us, and it’s just such a great organization to be in.”
Choate, The Olympian’s two-time All-Area player of the year, said Yelm’s resiliency throughout the tournament shows to how much heart this group has.
“It’s the journey,” she said. “It’s what we did along the way that makes me proud.”
Yelm rallied from behind in it’s opening game against Juanita on Friday before coasting to a quarterfinals win over Holy Names.
Saturday morning, the Tornados beat Mt. Spokane on a walk-off inside-the-park home run by Ells, after trailing the entire game.
“This has been a great group of kids,” Walton said. “Good people and good softball players. It’s been an incredible season, and one we’ll never forget.”