If you think Shadle Park is charting unknown waters when it plays in the 3A portion of state softball Friday, consider its 11 a.m. opponent, Port Angeles.
The Highlanders (18-5) are making their fifth straight state softball trip and ninth since 1998, the others coming in Class 4A.
The last time the Roughriders made it to state in 1986, the game was slowpitch. Their parents could have been in high school back then.
Coming out of the West Central district, Port Angeles (16-7) won twice, then lost to Union and North Central foe Prairie, which is back in state after a two-year absence but with four finals appearances (two titles) and fourth place in 4A.
Only four of this year’s 16 3A teams were at SERA Fields last year, half of them from the Greater Spokane League. Like Shadle, NC is making its fifth straight state trip. Two-time defending champion Kennedy and Enumclaw are the others.
The unfamiliarity with Port Angeles has Shadle coach George Lynn scrambling to find out something about his opponent.
“I know very little about Port Angeles,” said Lynn, who will be calling on club coach contacts for info. “I know they haven’t been to a fastpitch state tournament. When a team hasn’t been at state or at least talked about throughout the state of Washington, it’s always tough to scout.”
This has been a strange year for softball, as the GSL can attest. NC was fourth of six seeds in the 3A regional but is returning to SERA Fields in Tacoma at 9 a.m. The Highlanders, whose return has been predicated on offense, needed 24 runs in two regional wins to get there, one featuring a bizarre incident, the other a hair-raising ending.
Not only that, a highly ranked team – Bonney Lake – didn’t make it back in the 3A field.
Lynn explained Shadle’s circumstance. Trailing East Valley 2-0 in its opener, Shadle base runner Allie Burger was ruled out for not making a definitive move to a base with the ball in the pitching circle during a potential double steal. Inning over. The other base runner, Danielle Lynn, had walked, but was erroneously sent back to the plate the next inning and singled.
The brouhaha that followed took some 45 minutes to sort out, Lynn figured. The decision was reversed and the reversal overturned. Lynn said he was ordered to the dugout for the remainder of the game and his daughter Ashley coached third. Shadle scored 13 runs over the next two innings for a 13-3 victory.
In the championship, Shadle led 11-5 into the seventh against Hanford. The Falcons rallied and had the tying run on second base when a batter hit an apparent single to right. Kali Reid grabbed the ball on a bounce and fired to first for the game-saving out.
“It couldn’t have been any more dramatic,” Lynn said. “That was Kali’s fourth assist in that game. I’ve seen maybe one or two in an interesting game.”
During the weekend Danielle Lynn went 3 for 4, walked six times, drove in three runs and scored six, stealing at least five bases. Burger was 4 for 7, stole four bases and drove in three runs.
George Lynn said the two teams from the GSL are back at state despite graduating premier pitchers who got them there the four previous years.
•2A: Colville finished in fourth place last year. Returnee Pullman will play either defending champion Burlington-Edison or third-place W.F. West in round two.
•1A: Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) is in its third straight tournament, having finished third and fourth the previous two. Also back are defending champion Montesano and runner-up Castle Rock.
•2B: Of the five teams entered from Districts 7 and 9, only Selkirk is returning. Garfield-Palouse was second in 1B. They face a field that includes last year’s top four finishers, Toutle Lake, Adna, Mossyrock and Pe Ell.
•1B: Inchelium, third last year, and defending champion Touchet are veterans of the eight-team tournament. Colton, St. Michael’s and Almira/Coulee-Hartline hope to add trophies to go with basketball.