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State 4A softball: Timely hits, stellar pitching help Woodinville cap perfect season

As big hits go, the two that decided the State 4A fastpitch softball championship Saturday at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex traveled, maybe, 66 feet combined.

But they counted big on the scoreboard.

Woodinville capped an undefeated season by capturing the state title, beating Puyallup 3-0.

Woodinville (26-0) scored the winning run in the top of the sixth inning on a squeeze bunt by Bauley Burger-Moore that died in the dust a foot in front of home plate, allowing courtesy runner Sierra Hein to slide head-first to break open a scoreless pitcher’s duel.

An out later, Gina Wyner blooped a single over a drawn-in Puyallup first baseman to score two runs, the ball landing just past the first-base bag.

Senior Taylor Rhinehart of Woodinville and Puyallup senior Kennedy Robillard each pitched masterful games, working out of trouble by using an assortment of pitches and speeds.

Rhinehart allowed just two hits, walked two and hit a batter in the seventh inning, striking out 10.

Robillard scattered nine hits and the Falcons got their leadoff hitter on base in six of the seven innings. But she struck out six and got stellar defense behind her.

Center fielder Destiny Conerly robbed Burger-Moore of a home run in the seventh, running through the outfield fence to make the catch.

Rhinehart appeared loose and in control through all four games. That attitude, she said, was key.

“We just go play any game like its another game,” Rhinehart said. “That’s how we’ve approached this whole season. We may have been a little more nervous on the inside, but we don’t want that to show.”

In the seventh, the Villanova-bound senior betrayed a little bit of how much she wanted to close out the win. Her pitches showed a bit of extra adrenaline and her masterful control turned a tad wild, hitting a batter.

“It was definitely reassuring knowing that I have that lead and knowing that I have my whole team behind me,” she said.

“I don’t think everything has completely sunk in yet,” Woodinville coach Dani Weir said. “But definitely it has a little bit. This was a game about stringing some things together and getting some clutch, timely plays.

“I mean, for Bailey to lay down that bunt and then score two runs on that little dinky hit – and it was just a dinky little hit.”

“It’s the kind of game where you just have to tip your cap to them and move on,” Puyallup coach Anthony Batinovich said. “Their pitcher was fantastic and she did a great job of getting us out.

“That’s a heckuva team and it’s an incredibly difficult accomplishment, going undefeated. I know. We were 27-0 coming into the semifinals last year and we couldn’t finish it.”

Puyallup lost a 1-0 decision to eventual state champion Snohomish in last year’s semifinals, then was knocked out of the tournament a game short of a trophy by Richland.

“There’s a little bit of redemption,” Weir said. “Puyallup beat us in the semifinals of this group’s freshman year. Now to get this win kind of makes up for that.”

The win puts a perfect button on Rhinehart’s career.

“This absolutely does,” she said. “To finish our career together like this is just perfect.”

Monroe knocked off Camas 8-5 to earn the third-place trophy. The Papermakers finished fourth.

“To look over there and see those two teams playing for third and fourth, that says something about what we’ve accomplished,” Weir said. “We beat both of those teams to get here.”