YAKIMA – Running out of steam after grinding their way through a heavyweight District 4 gantlet, Northwest Christian’s dream of a softball championship fell just short in the State 2B title game Saturday at Gateway Sports Complex.
The Crusaders dropped a 6-2 decision to a Pe Ell squad with a long postseason pedigree. But before the loss, NWC took the measure of 2010 and 2011 finalist Adna, 6-3 in the semifinals, and Napavine in the second round. All three of those District 4 teams took home trophies, with Adna beating Napavine 14-7 for third place.
The Crusaders’ season – the best in school history in only their second trip to state – ends with a 21-5 record. They also bring home their first state trophy.
The Crusaders used a four-run first inning to cruise past Adna in the semifinals. Hayden Smith and CC Beil had RBI singles during the uprising. Hannah Hustad struck out seven to get the win, but not before withstanding a three-run uprising in the seventh.
Pe Ell has finished in the top four every year since the 2B classification was created for the 2006-07 school year. The Trojans have played in the last four championship games, winning previously in 2010.
NWC took a 2-1 lead in the third, but the Trojans struck back for four runs in the top of the fifth. The Crusaders had no answer.
“Those are some good teams we beat,” NWC coach Jamie Stewart said. “We grew from our mistakes and our strengths here. Sometimes it’s hard to see where you started and how far you’ve come when you lose your last game. Only two teams win their last game here.”
Stewart noted that he loses just three players from this team as he continues to build the program. Among those back are the two pitchers, Hustad and Hanna Chaffin. Sorely missed will be senior catcher Beil, who had two singles in the title game and a key RBI single in the semifinals.
“Hannah Husted and CC Beil came up big for us today,” Stewart said. “Two girls with bad wheels left everything right here.”