Rachel Erickson is a sucker for the rain, and her offensive statistics from the opening day of the Narrows League fastpitch tournament weren’t a fluke.
In two games at the RAC, Capital’s senior third baseman hit like it was 75 degrees and sunny instead of the consistent soggy conditions all players dealt with Wednesday. She was a combined 7 for 7 with three home runs, seven runs scored and six RBIs in a 9-4 win over Lincoln and an 8-5 win against North Thurston, a team that swept the Cougars during the regular-season.
Forget the sunscreen, Erickson prefers umbrellas.
“This is my kind of weather,” she said.
The two wins guarantee the Cougars (12-8) are a top-two seed at next week’s 3A bi-district tournament, but first will play league champion Central Kitsap (15-3) at 3 p.m. Thursday back at the RAC for the right to be the 3A Narrows’ No. 1 seed into the bi-district tournament.
Erickson called the victory over the Rams (13-7), the second-seed entering the tournament, “redemption” since North Thurston swept Capital, 20-15 and 4-0, during 3A Narrows League play.
“This was definitely a big win for us,” she said.
Capital coach Kelsey Haupert said the Cougars had their most consistent offensive games of the season in the two wins. Haupert said Capital’s bats have hot and cold streaks this spring. “We tend to score a whole bunch in the beginning … and then hold the other team off, or don’t score the entire game, and score all of our runs in the sixth or seventh inning,” she said.
So the goal this time was to win each inning.
“It seemed to work,” Haupert said.
Leading 5-1 in the fourth, thanks in part to Erickson’s two-run home run in the second inning — the bases were loaded for first baseman Kaitlin Mastin. She launched a shot to right-center for a bases-clearing double to make it 8-1, and advanced to third on the throw home.
Erickson finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs and pitcher Maddie Lincoln gave up five hits and struck out nine Rams hitters.
Both of Rams shortstop Dominique Greeno’s hits were home runs; her two-run shot in the sixth made it 8-4.
North Thurston and Shelton play at 3 p.m. Thursday for the third/fourth seeds to bi-district. After a 17-16 eight-inning opening-round win over Wilson, in which the Rams rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 14, the Highclimbers fell 17-4 in five innings to league champion Central Kitsap.
Wilson and Lincoln play for the fifth/sixth seeds to bi-district at 1 p.m.
When a team threatens to score, Olympia senior pitcher Maddy Stensby knows when to flip a switch.
It was in the fourth inning against South Kitsap. The Bears’ lead already was 3-1 lead, but the Wolves were threatening with runners on second and third and no outs. Facing no outs and runners on second and third, Stensby struck out the next three batters – all swinging – to end the threat.
“I definitely feel pressure,” Stensby said, “Not bad pressure, but good pressure to do my job.”
Olympia faces Gig Harbor, a 12-6 winner over Yelm, at 3 p.m. Thursday at the RAC with the winner earning the 4A Narrows’ top seed to the 4A bi-district tournament.
In the bottom half of that inning, Rene Gutierrez, the Bears’ No. 9 hitter, began the team’s two-out, two-run rally, and was given in by Stensby, whose double made it a 5-1 lead.
Stensby finished with a game-high 14 strikeouts, and also helped herself out offensively, going 2-for-3, including a solo home run.
In other seeding games for Thursday, Yelm (14-7) plays South Kitsap in the third/fourth place game, also at 3 p.m. Timberline (11-9) plays Bellarmine at 1 p.m. in a loser-out, winner-to-district game after falling to South Kitsap, 12-7, in its opening game.
Rain postponed Wednesday’s 3A and 2A West Central/Southwest bi-district games and rescheduled for the same times and locations Thursday: in 3A, Capital vs. Columbia River at 4 p.m. at Tacoma’s Heidelberg Park, Shelton vs. Wilson at 4 p.m. at Auburn Mountainview, and North Thurston vs. Sumner at 7 p.m. at Auburn Mountainview; in 2A, River Ridge vs. Washington at 4 p.m. at Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale. All 4A bi-district games at Kent’s Art Wright Field were postponed, including Yelm vs. Beamer, and rescheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday.
In 2A District IV, Tumwater vs. Woodland and Black Hills vs. R.A. Long were postponed (rain) and rescheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. in Centralia, and 4 p.m. at W.F. West, respectively. In 2B, Rainier plays Toutle Lake at 4 p.m. at Adna.