MONROE — Ronnie Ladines started this season as a spectator. She’s finishing it as one of the most dominant pitchers in the area.
Ladines, who broke the forefinger on her pitching hand during basketball season, costing her half the softball season, hurled a five-hit shutout, striking out 12 to lead Arlington to a 3-0 victory over Lake Stevens on Thursday in the Class 4A District 1 championship game.
Both teams advance to next week’s state tournament in Spokane.
The district title is a first for the Eagles’ five seniors, who now hope to deliver the first state softball trophy in their school’s history.
“We’ve been playing together since we were nine,” Ladines said. “To finish together like this is amazing, but we’re not done yet.”
Ladines, who missed Arlington’s run at the state basketball tournament, wondered heading into the spring if she would be a part of this softball season.
“There was definitely some doubt,” she said. “I went to the doctor and they said it was still fractured, but I could start pitching, so I was like, ‘You know what, it’s my senior year, it’s now or never,’ so I started throwing.”
“It was really difficult (watching the early part of the season). I just love this game so much. Sitting out, watching us lose a couple, I just wanted to be out there helping the team, but we stuck it out, and it’s been awesome.”
Arlington (19-3) got its first run in the bottom of the second when Katelynn Kazen, who had singled to lead off the inning, scored on an error. Hayden Fields made it 2-0 with a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning, then Marisa Rathert provided one more insurance run in the fifth with an RBI single that scored Lynsey Amundson.
Even though Ladines’ pitching line showed another dominant start, Thursday’s game was hardly a walk in the park for her or the Eagles. Lake Stevens batters were able to work the count all afternoon, and forced Ladines to pitch out of several jams. In all, the Vikings (17-6) stranded eight runners, including five in scoring position.
“I’m super proud of this team,” Lake Stevens coach Adrianne Lartz said. “We had a great game against Snohomish yesterday, so I haven’t lost any confidence in this team. Arlington, they’re on fire, and we just didn’t put our hits together. That’s what happens against a good team sometimes.”
And the way Lartz sees it, facing Ladines right before state could be good for her team.
“I truly believe Ronnie is one of the best pitchers in the state, so I don’t believe we’ll see much better when we get to state,” Lartz said. “There will be good pitchers, of course, but Ronnie’s tough, so it is good prep for us.”
Conversely, Arlington coach Dan Eng said having to grind out a tough win over Lake Stevens will help his team prepare for what lies ahead.
“Lake Stevens, they are a very good team,” Eng said. “… We picked that team to win this district (before the season), that’s how good they are.”
At Sky River Park
Lake Stevens 000 000 0—0 5 1
Arlington 010 110 x—3 9 1
Sierra Card and Tehya Harney. Ronnie Ladines and Lynsey Amundson. WP—last name (record). LP—last name (record). HR—Hayden Fields. Records—Lake Stevens 17-6 overall. Arlington 19-3.