RICHLAND – Chewelah coach Tom Skoke took a look at the Northeast League’s performance on Friday at the WIAA Class 1A state softball tournament at Columbia Playfield and smiled.
“Our league might be tougher than I realized,” he said.
Indeed, it is tough. The NEA has 25 percent of the state tournament entries.
Colville will be playing in the semifinals at 9 a.m. Saturday, while Lakeside and Chewelah are playing for trophies. Only Deer Park, the district champion, went 0-2.
Altogether, the four NEA teams were 6-4, topped by Colville’s Gracie Schauls and her Indians teammates.
Schauls has five pitches in her repertoire.
And the senior left-handed pitcher made sure to use them all.
Colville opened the tournament by beating Kiona-Benton 10-1. Then the Indians 10-runned their Northeast 1A rivals Chewelah by a 11-1 score in 5 innings.
They’ll play defending state champion in the semifinals.
And Schauls, headed to Grand Canyon University to play softball, says she’ll be ready.
“I’ve never won two games at a state tournament before,” she said. “I was just trying to mix things up as much as I can.”
It worked well against Ki-Be, as she racked up 18 strikeouts.
“Screwball, change up, curveball, rise ball, and fastball,” Schauls said of her selection of pitches.
Colville was expecting to see unbeaten Cle Elum in the quarterfinals. However, Chewelah belted the Warriors 8-1, giving Cle Elum its first loss after winning its first 23 games.
“It was kind of worrisome,” said Schauls. “We’ve seen each other so many times.”
Colville coach Maria Swinger-Inskeep agreed.
“This was our third time playing them,” said Swinger-Inskeep. “It’s 3.2 if you count the 2-inning playoff we had to do for second place. We won two of them.”
Things looked good after Chewelah touched Schauls for a run in the second. But that was as good as it got, as Colville got six runs in the bottom of the second, then another five runs in the bottom of the third.
Schauls fanned seven and surrendered three hits. Hanna Worrell and Kaitlyn Petrey each had two hits in the win for Colville.
“We came in focused hitting the ball,” said Swinger-Inskeep. “And we never let up.”
Skoke felt his team may have been tight in the quarterfinal.
“It was tough,” he said. “I think we were so wound up that we ended up trying too hard. Colville is a good, tough team. If we’re gonna lose, it’s not bad to lose to them.
Chewelah bounced back, eliminating Warden 9-6. Madison Koler had three hits and four RBIs in the victory.
Chewelah plays Zillah at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Cougars can finish as high as third.
LAKESIDE: Shelby Claassen’s arm was tired after she pitched 25 innings for the Eagles.
She struck out 20 as Lakeside beat Lynden Christian 1-0 in nine innings in the first round.
Then the Eagles ran into a tough Montesano, losing 15-3. But Lakeside bounced back, as Claassen’s struck out 13 in a one-hit, 4-0 shutout of South Whidbey.
“I just wanted to relax and get through it,” said Claassen’s of that last game.
After the Montesano loss, the Eagles could have given up, said Lakeside coach Chuck Moffatt.
“I told the girls “You guys can mope, or get into Saturday and the final 8,’” said Moffatt.
Ashley Fuson was the Eagles’ hitting star, getting three hits against Lynden Christian and two more against South Whidbey.
Lakeside takes on Bellevue Christian at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Eagles can place as high as third.
DEER PARK: The district champions could never get untracked Friday, losing to Hoquiam 12-5 and then falling to Warden 7-4.
In the loss to Hoquiam, Payton Erickson had three hits and Tina Carlson added two.
Erickson added four more hits in the loss to Warden.
Despite the losses, Stags coach Desiree Sweeney – who was inducted into the Community Colleges of Spokane Hall of Fame recently along with her 1990 softball teammates – was proud of her team.
“We have six starting freshmen and two others who contribute,” said Sweeney. “We did well. We went farther then anybody thought we would.”
Sweeney’s players and their family members wore shirts this season that stated “17 individual journeys become 1 family.”
“We became a team,” she said. “I absolutely thought we’d get to state. We had strong seniors, and our junior class bought into our philosophy.”