McKensie Brittos watched the ball sailing toward right field and thought her poor start on the mound was about to get a lot worse.
Instead, Lakeside right fielder Hailey Lesser tracked down the tailing-away ball, caught it over her shoulder, and held on for the third out despite falling down.
Lesser’s play with the bases loaded kept Riverside from a big first inning Saturday and was a huge factor in Lakeside’s 3-1 win in the District 7 1A softball title game at Nine Mile Falls.
“I think it was the game-changer, because if she doesn’t catch it then they score those three runs,” said Brittos, who settled herself in the second inning to start a streak of 12 consecutive batters retired. “I think it would have been a different game.”
“I told the girls at the end of the game that up to this point that was probably the play of the year for us,” Eagles coach Chuck Moffatt said.
“I thought for sure that ball was sailing over her head and it was tailing. I thought, if that drops in, bases cleared, and potentially an inside-the-parker.”
Lakeside (20-2) won its second consecutive district title and earned the Northeast A’s first-round bye to Saturday’s bi-district at Central Valley against the Caribou Trail League.
In 10 a.m. openers, No. 2 Riverside (16-6) will meet CTL No. 3 Cascade-Leavenworth (13-9) and No. 3 Medical Lake (17-6) will play CTL No. 2 Cashmere (13-9). CTL No. 1 Okanogan (20-2) also has a first-round bye. Four teams will make state.
Brittos, who was admittedly nervous, allowed the first five Rams to reach base, falling behind 1-0 when she hit counterpart Keelin Hunt with a pitch with one out and the bases loaded. After a strikeout, Elisna Workman hit the long fly ball that Lesser corralled.
The Eagles tied the game in the second when Maddie Lesser singled and moved around on a wild pitch and throwing error. Taylor Wuesthoff provided the winning RBI with a double to left-center in the third, later scoring on an error.
The game ended on a close 6-4 force out at second base, after the Rams singled twice with two outs.
“I thought it was close, but I think (Wuesthoff) got it,” Brittos said. “She’s a good shortstop. I trusted her with that play.”
Hunt pitched a four-hitter, striking out five and retiring nine straight batters starting in the fourth.
“I thought it would be a pitchers’ duel and it would come down to defense and whoever would get the key hit,” Moffatt said.
Medical Lake earned the third seed and eliminated Kettle Falls (11-11) as Jordyn Soliday struck out 11 and went 3 for 4, and Chelsea Hamby and Glori Cheevers combined for seven RBIs in a 15-6 win.
Lakeside began the day with a 13-3, five-inning win over Kettle Falls. Megan Ahrendt went 3 for 4 with an RBI, two runs and two stolen bases.
Riverside advanced to the title game with a 7-1 win over Medical Lake. Hunt pitched a four-hitter, striking out nine, and had four hits and four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the sixth.