Actually, the Tigers have been doing it for years.
Granite Falls defeated Lakewood 7-4 Wednesday night in a District 1 semifinal game at Janicki Fields and clinched a berth in the 2A state tournament -- for the fourth year in a row.
"It's pretty exciting," said Tigers head coach Candi Reeves. "Four years in a row going to state. These kids just continue to amaze me with their toughness."
Lakewood plays Lynden, the No. 1 team from the Northwest Conference, in a loser-out game at 4 p.m. Friday at Janicki Fields. The winner clinches a berth in the state tourney.
Granite Falls plays Mount Baker in the district championship at 6 p.m. on Friday. Regardless of the outcome, both teams will go to state. However, the Tigers have plenty of motivation to be district champions.
"It's a big deal to us," said Granite Falls' Peyton Spencer, who had a game-high three RBI for the Tigers in the victory over Lakewood. "We want it really bad this year."
"Every single game is a spring board to the next game," Reeves said. "That game on Friday is a spring board into state."
In Wednesday's semifinal, Lakewood scored a run in the top of the first inning, and held the lead until the bottom of the third when Spencer -- a senior who has been to the state tournament in each of her first three seasons -- hit an RBI single to tie the score.
The score remained 1-1 until the bottom of the fifth inning when Granite Falls scored two runs on a throwing error. One batter later, Spencer hit a two-run single to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
"She's an outstanding player," Reeves said of Spencer.
Spencer, the Tigers' catcher, also made some big plays playing defense. With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the third, Spencer picked off a Lakewood baserunner at third base to end the inning. It was the second pickoff of the game for Spencer.
"She's been doing that all season long," Reeves said. "With Peyton behind the plate it's magic. She does some incredibly instinctive things."
Granite Falls added two runs in the sixth to take a 7-2 lead going into the final inning.
The Cougars pieced together a small rally in the top of the seventh. After two quick outs, Maddie Holmes hit a single and Alexa Chase and Mikayla Holmes hit back-to-back doubles to score two runs.
Reeves called a timeout and headed to the mound for a quick visit with Tigers' pitcher Kimmy Martinez.
"I just said, 'I want to let you guys know that we got one more out before we're going to state,'" Reeves said.
Martinez got the next batter to ground out to third base, and Granite Falls celebrated a return to the state tournament.
"It feels good to go four years in a row," Spencer said. "It's a big accomplishment."
It was Granite Falls' second victory of the day. The Tigers defeated Burlington-Edison 6-3 in a first-round game. The team then watched the end of Lakewood's game with Anacortes. Granite Falls saw the Cougars score six runs in the top of the seventh inning to come from behind and beat the Seahawks 9-6.
After watching that game, Reeves said that she knew Granite Falls -- which beat Lakewood twice in Cascade Conference games in the regular season -- was going to have its hands full.
"It's a new game, it's a new day," Reeves said. "We watched them play Anacortes. They're a very well-coached team. We could be up by nine runs and they could still come back and win it."
Spencer's three RBI led the Tigers. Caitlyn Munce was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"We've got strong batters all the way through the lineup," Reeves said. "... The second time through the lineup they're going to start hitting the ball."
Lakewood also had a strong offensive performance, collecting 11 hits. Maddie Holmes went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored and Kiana Smith was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
At Janicki Fields
Lakewood 100 001 2—4 11 4
Granite Falls 001 042 x—7 9 0
Hailey Malakowski and Mikayla Holmes. Kimmy Martinez and Peyton Spencer. WP–Martinez. LP–Malakowski. 2B–Spencer (GF), Alexa Chase (L) 2, Holmes (L). Records–Lakewood 14-7 overall. Granite Falls 19-1.
Granite Falls 6, Burl.-Ed. 2
B. Edison 100 002 0—3 4 2
Granite Falls 010 104 x—6 5 3
Brieanna Lopez, Riely VanderVeen (4), Lopez (6) and Mackenzie Jacobson. Kimmy Martinez and Peyton Spencer. WP–Martinez. LP–VanderVeen. 2B–Jacobson (B-E). HR–Jamie Alexander (GF). Records–Burlington-Edison 9-9 overall. Granite Falls 19-1.
Lakewood 9, Anacortes 6
Lakewood 102 000 6—9 10 3
Anacortes 200 021 1—6 14 5
Hailey Malakowski and Mikayla Holmes. Liz Crookes, Clary Peticlerc (7) and Hayley Stout. WP–Malakowski. LP–Crookes. 2B–Kiana Smith (L), Terah Barrio (L), Holmes (L), Malakowski (L), Crookes (A), Kelci Douglas (A). HR–Kayla Matthews (A). Records–Lakewood 14-7 overall. Anacortes 17-4.
Mt. Baker 15, Cedarcrest 5
Mount Baker 106 134 x—15 18 2
Cedarcrest 030 020 x—5 7 6
Toivola and Henry. Stephanie Hall, Allie McCain (5) and LuAnn Townley. WP—Toivola. LP—Hall. Extra base hits not reported. Records—Mount Baker 14-7 overall. Cedarcrest 14-6.
Lynden 9, Cedarcrest 4
Cedarcrest 300 001 0—4 5 3
Lynden 103 221 x—9 7 2
B. Bonson and M. Warnor. Allie McCain, Maddie Harris (4) and LuAnn Townley. WP—Bonson. LP—McCain. Extra base hits not reported. Records—Cedarcrest 14-7 overall. Anacortes 18-3.
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