After a long, blustery day that had turned somewhat disheartening, Joe Stanton gathered his Central Valley Bears together and instantly knew they weren’t ready to give up.
The Bears brought out their bats Friday night and kept alive their drive for the school’s first state softball tournament trophy.
The Bears can’t win the title, but they can finish as high as third place, thanks to an 8-2 win over South Kitsap that completed first-day play at the State 4A tournament at Merkel Sports Complex.
CV (19-5) will play Tahoma (22-5) in a loser-out game at 11 this morning. The Bears must win that game and a 1 p.m. game to reach the contest for third and fourth places at 3. They came up one win short of that placing game last season.
CV’s shot at this year’s title round ended with a 5-3 loss to Camas in their second game of the day. When Stanton talked to his team after the setback, he didn’t detect any letdown.
“You can sense the outcome before the game starts and … you could just see it in their eyes that they were fired up,” Stanton said. “There was no way we were losing to this team. They were mad at themselves for some of the blown opportunities against Camas.”
Senior Carissa Sdao had an RBI double to center field in the first inning and a two-run homer to left-center in the fourth to lead the charge against the Wolves (16-7). Bailey Bergdahl and Natalie Ford added RBI doubles to support the seven-hit pitching of Carli Riordan (12-3), who struck out six and walked two.
All other teams had departed by the time CV and South Kitsap finished. Newport (21-5) and Todd Beamer (22-7) won late games to join CV in the consolation round.
Today’s play begins at 9 a.m. with the semifinals: Arlington (21-3) against Richland (21-4), and Camas (19-5) against defending champion Woodinville (22-1).
“I really think the girls are just getting warmed up,” Woodinville coach Dani Weir said. “We’re going to peak at the right time. … We’re going to be a tough team to beat tomorrow, I think.”
CV began the day with an 8-5 win over Olympia (19-7). The Bears built an 8-0 lead and overcame Olympia’s four-run seventh by bringing starter Riordan back into the game. Riordan stranded runners at first and second by coaxing Adrianna Rupright’s pop foul to catcher Kiara McCoy.
Three errors opened the door to CV’s four-run fourth, capped by McCoy’s RBI double to right.
Camas jumped on Riordan for four hits and three runs in the first inning of the next game. The Bears fought back with solo homers by Tia Pau to left in the second and by Riordan to center in the fourth. Camas center fielder Hannah Welborn knocked over the fence attempting to chase down Riordan’s homer.
CV tied the game at 3 on a bases-loaded passed ball in the fifth, but RBIs singles by Amee Aarhus in the sixth and Katie Schroeder in the seventh sunk the Bears.
“We had a couple of dingers with nobody on,” Stanton said. “It would have been nice to have a walk somewhere in there and Camas was a sound defensive team.”