YAKIMA – For the second straight year, Northwest Christian came up just short in the State 2B softball championship game, losing 3-1 to Toutle Lake on Sunday at the Gateway softball complex.
NWC lost to Pe Ell, 6-2, in the 2012 title game.
The Crusaders held three opponents to just five runs in the first three games of the rain-delayed event. But an uncharacteristic defensive breakdown in the fourth inning resulted in two runs that proved costly.
After Ducks shortstop Bailey Hockett singled and Joelle Iverson was hit by pitch, a sacrifice attempt by Paige Diffenbaugh was successful in advancing the runners but a wild throw trying to get Hockett at third base allowed both runners to score.
Crusaders starting pitcher Hannah Hustad helped her own cause with an RBI single in the top of the sixth inning, driving in Hanna Chaffin, who had singled with one out.
Hustad, a junior, was again magnificent on the mound. She limited the Ducks to just four hits but was undone by three errors.
The Ducks got that run right back in the bottom of the sixth. Hockett walked and went to second on a single by Samantha Woodley before scoring on a throwing error.
NWC’s small-ball attack had the Crusaders in position to close the gap in the seventh. With one out Mackenzi Gray and Lindsey Taylor had back-to-back singles and advanced on a grounder to third by Lauren Taylor. A strikeout ended the threat.
“We tried to soften them up a bit with some small ball early,” NWC coach Jamie Stewart said. “They made the plays. We did what we had to do to have a chance, but they made the plays.”
The Crusaders (22-6) advanced to the title game by knocking off LaConner 7-3 in the semifinals.