It was beginning to look like Maddy Stensby’s pitching gem would ultimately be for nothing. Then the ball left Adrianna Rupright’s bat.
The Olympia senior hit a walk-off homer with two outs in the eighth inning, helping the Bears claim a thrilling 4-3 victory over Bethel in a girls fastpitch nonleague matchup Friday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
“I kind of like playing under pressure,” said Rupright, who finished with three hits and two RBIs. “Two outs, two strikes. You want to be in those situations.”
Faced with that exact scenario in the bottom of the eighth, Rupright welcomed the opportunity and proceeded to smash a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall — a feat predicted moments earlier by her coach.
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“When Adrianna was walking up to the plate, I said she was going to end it with a walk-off,” Olympia coach Matt Loes said. “She’s that kind of hitter.”
Stensby finished with 17 strikeouts as the Bears improved to 2-0 on the season.
However, despite her gaudy strikeout total, Stensby, last season’s 4A Narrows League pitching MVP, was quick to deflect the attention to her catcher.
“Adrianna called an incredible game,” Stensby said. “Then she goes out and ends it like that. Give all the credit to her. She was clutch.”
Through six innings it appeared as if Olympia would not require any late-inning heroics as Stensby dominated on the mound, fanning nine batters between the second and fifth innings alone.
The Braves, who finished fourth at the Class 4A state tournament last year, struck first, scoring on an unearned run in the first inning.
The Bears answered in the bottom of that inning, tying the score when Maddy Newkirk drove in a run.
Stensby took over from there, retiring the next 14 batters she faced, including striking out the side in both the second and fifth innings.
“She looked great out there today,” Loes said, “When they did make contact, nothing left the infield.”
Olympia took the lead in the third when Rupright drove in a run — her first of the day — then grabbed a 3-1 advantage after Stensby hit a run-scoring double in the fifth.
Stensby opened the sixth by striking out her 14th batter before a slight rain started to fall, briefly affecting the senior’s control.
Bethel finally found some offense after Anna Olson beat out an infield single, reaching first base a beat before Olympia’s Glynne Saelid touched the bag. A rare Stensby walk — her only one in the contest — followed before Amanda Lyyski’s double off the left field wall drove in two, tying the game at 3-all.
“That was really (Stensby’s) only mistake the entire game,” Loes said.
Bethel senior pitcher Rylee Thomas was impressive in her own right, finishing with 10 strikeouts for the Braves.
“Just a great early-season game,” Loes said.