For the third consecutive year, Yelm High School finished in the top three at the Class 3A state softball tournament, but for the third time fell short of hoisting the biggest trophy.
The Tornados fell, 10-4, to Garfield in the championship game on Saturday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey after winning their semifinal game earlier in dramatic fashion.
Yelm lost the 2017 title game to Redmond and finished third in 2018 after losing their opening game to Redmond, then winning five straight including the consolation bracket finale over the Mustangs.
The final was delayed nearly an hour by rain that continued to fall throughout with varying intensity.
Meanwhile, defending state champion Bonney Lake was shut out by Garfield, 4-0, before dropping a consolation bracket game, 1-0, to Snohomish.
Hailey Brown, who started the game at first base before pitching the last two innings, drove in three of Yelm’s four runs, with a third inning single and a sixth-inning double. Starting pitcher Tayelyn Cutler and catcher Taylor Gubser each had two hits for Yelm.
Cutler struck out nine Garfield batters, but the Bulldogs broke the game open with a five-run fourth inning. In that inning, Garfield batted around,and stayed ahead the rest of the way. The Tornados did chase Garfield’s 5-foot-11 UC-San Diego-bound right-hander, Kaia Simpson, from the mound when they brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth.
But Simpson’s sister Nikola came on to strike out the final four Yelm batters.
Yelm reached the title game with a 3-1 win over Mountain View.
The Thunder took a 1-0 lead into the top of the seventh, but with two out Savannah Hyder walked and Elena Castanon doubled. Cydney Jarvis then hit a ball that struck the edge of the rubber infield and grass outfield and hopped over the head of Mountain View right fielder Mary Fogg and rolled to the fence for a three-run inside-the-park homer.
Cutler two-hit the Thunder, with 10 strikeouts.
Bonney Lake’s offensive struggles led to a bittersweet ending to the career of University of Washington-bound pitcher Brooke Nelson. Plagued by pink eye during the state tournament, Nelson still managed to strike out 18 Garfield and 10 Snohomish batters, ending her career with a state-record 1,194 for her career.
Hailey Huggins and Brynn Nelson had Bonney Lake’s only hits against Garfield while Gabby Jones went 2-for-3 against Snohomish.
Stadium reached the tournament’s second day, but the Tigers were bounced from the consolation bracket, 2-0, by Mountain View. Meri McElligott belted a double for Stadium.