The Glacier Peak pitcher had plenty of them Thursday evening.
Bircher and the Grizzlies held off Ferndale 3-2 in a nail-biting 3A District softball final, claiming the first district title in program history.
“Those no-outs, bases-loaded, intense innings, those are my favorite innings,” Bircher said with a laugh. “I like to make it a little scary. I love pitching in those innings because just of the adrenaline.”
Glacier Peak (15-8 overall) scored one run in the first inning — on a sacrifice fly by Bircher — but never led by more than two. The Golden Eagles (21-2) loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and had the tying run on second with one out in the seventh, but Bircher (15-8) was able to get out of the jams.
“That's as good as a championship game gets,” Glacier Peak coach Caitlin Nies said. “It was back and forth. Ferndale has a great team and we were just battling to score one run at a time and try to keep them from scoring. It came down to the last out and we were able to get it done.”
Bircher finished the game 1-for-4 with an RBI single in the third inning for the Grizzlies, who defeated Ferndale in the district tournament for the second consecutive season.
“She's our senior leader; she's been the whole year,” Nies said. “I can't say enough about her. She just has such a big heart out there. She never gives up. It's remarkable.”
Just as she thrives under pressure in the pitching circle, Bircher enjoys high-intensity at-bats.
“I wanted it so bad and I was not going to let myself not get those big hits,” she said. “But a lot of people got big hits. It was just awesome. My whole team came up clutch.”
For both of Bircher's RBI, Glacier Peak leadoff hitter Nina Kim came around to score. Kim was 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored and a walk.
“Nina Kim got us going big with a leadoff double and we were able to score in that first inning,” Nies said. “That was huge.”
The victory means Glacier Peak swept the baseball and softball district titles — both firsts for the respective sports.
“We have been waiting for this moment since the school started six years ago and it's finally here,” Bircher said. “I'm so blessed to be able to be a part of it and my senior year, to go out with a district championship, is awesome.”
Now the Grizzlies go to the state tournament for the first time, and are eager to show what they can do.
“The girls are so excited. They worked so hard,” Nies said. “We didn't have a picture-perfect start to the season (with three losses in the Grizzlies' first four games) but they just kept working and getting better. No one gave up, they stuck together as a team and it's just so cool to see them rewarded with this.”
At Phil Johnson Field
Glacier Peak 101 100 0 — 3 7 3
Ferndale 001 001 0 — 2 8 2
Callie Bircher and Coral Hjert. Lauren Maley and Drew Westford. WP—Bircher (15-8). LP—Maley. 2B—Nina Kim (GP) 2, Maley (F), Dana Ebe (F), Abigail Bauthues (F). Records—Glacier Peak 15-8 overall. Ferndale 21-2.
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