By David Krueger Herald Writer
SEDRO-WOOLLEY — “Intense.” “A battle.” “Nerve-wracking.” “Exciting.” “Stressful.”
Those were just a few descriptions of Saturday’s 3A District 1 softball championship thriller between Everett and Sedro-Woolley. The teams combined for 27 runs, 35 hits and 10 errors, but the Seagulls’ Alexie Levin had the game’s most important hit.
With the score tied at 13 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Levin tripled to deep right field to score Keilanna “Kiki” Harper from second base with the winning run in Everett’s 14-13 victory, propelling the Seagulls to next weekend’s 3A state softball tournament.
Levin’s triple capped a two-run rally for Everett, which matched the two runs the Cubs scored in the top of the inning to take the lead.
“Intense game from inning One to inning Seven. It was a battle every single inning,” said Everett head coach Casey Chaffee. “It’s tiring. It’s fun. It’s so much fun for it to be a battle every inning.
“That’s what the game of softball’s all about.”
The Seagulls scored runs in every inning but the first, when Sedro-Woolley took a 2-0 lead. Everett responded with four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take its first lead of the game.
Even though the games were played at Janicki Fields in Sedro-Woolley — the Cubs’ home field — Everett was designated the home team because it carried the district’s No. 1 seed into the playoff tournament.
Despite rallies by both teams, the Seagulls held on to the lead until the Cubs put up three runs in the top of the sixth inning to take an 11-10 advantage.
Everett came right back with two in the bottom of the sixth to reclaim the lead, 12-11. However, Sedro-Wooley put up two more runs in the top of the final inning to put some pressure on the Seagulls and set up the exciting finish.
“Both teams came ready to play,” said Everett assistant coach Meagan Semore. “Both teams came out hitting the ball well.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking.”
“We just really wanted to win this game,” Levin said. “I was shaking the whole time.”
Lauren Kesterson led off the bottom of the seventh with a double. She scored when Harper bunted and the ball was thrown over the first baseman’s head, with Harper advancing to second on the error. Cherise Shaver popped out to shortstop before Levin came to the plate.
“I thought, ‘I just need a deep fly ball,’” Levin said. “We have our fastest runner at second. She’s for sure going to score.”
And that she did.
Chaffee said that the shortstop ran into Harper on the play and was called for obstruction, awarding third base to Harper. But as soon as the ball left Levin’s bat Chaffee knew she was going to run further than that.
“Kiki’s going to score,” Chaffee said. “She’s got wheels.”
Levin, who will play at Western Washington University next year, went 3-for-5 with a triple, double, RBI and two runs scored. She was also Everett’s starting pitcher, pitching 62⁄3 innings, with all 13 runs and 15 hits charged to her.
“It was exciting, but I was stressed out the whole time,” Levin said. “Pitching-wise it was pretty stressful. We were playing pretty good defense. They were just hitting the ball where nobody was.”
With two runners on base and two outs in the top of the seventh, Everett’s Alexis Dittoe replaced Levin on the mount and got the final out, a groundout to short. The one out was enough to make her the winning pitcher.
Chaffee said Dittoe came into the game as a “change of pace” pitcher.
“Lexie’s a fighter. She would’ve finished the game if she needed to,” Chaffee said.
Every Everett starter reached base at least once. Kesterson — also finishing a home run short of the cycle – was a perfect 5-for-5 with a two-run triple, double, three RBI and three runs scored.
Harper had three well-placed bunt singles — two of which resulted in throwing errors by Sedro-Woolley, allowing two runs to score. The junior finished 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored, including the game-winning one.
“This is the epitome of a team right now,” Semore said. “Everybody contributed.”
Everett improved to 22-1 overall this season with its perfect record in the district tournament. The loss was the second of the year for Sedro-Woolley (20-3), which also lost to Meadowdale 7-3 in the second-place winner-to-state game and saw its season end.
Chaffee, in her first year as the Everett coach, and the Seagulls brace for next weekend’s 3A state tournament at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey, where Chaffee hopes they have a few more exciting games in front of them.
She expects winning a close game against Sedro-Woolley to help her team in the state tournament, where games can also be pretty “intense.”
“This team just continues to impress me,” Chaffee said. “I think our best asset that we have as a team is we are all each other’s No. 1 fans.
“This is just going to gain momentum for us. This is perfect. The girls are just fired up.”
At Janicki Fields
Holly Hawkins and Kaylee Lamphiear. Alexie Levin, Alexis Dittoe (7) and Kayla Deditius. WP–Dittoe. LP–Hawkins. 2B–Levin, Demaree Trull (E), Lauren Kesterson (E), Hawkins (S-W) 2, Briley Brewer (S-W), Lamphiear (S-W), Cassidy Mast (S-W). 3B–Kesterson (E), Levin (E), Emmie Moser (S-W). Records–Sedro-Woolley 20-3 overall. Everett 22-1.