LACEY — Never in the long, storied athletic history of Everett High School have the Seagulls made it to the state championship game of a fastpitch softball tournament, and yet coach Casey Chaffee accomplished that feat Saturday morning in her first season at the helm.
But she knows she hasn’t done anything yet.
Shortly after the Seagulls dispatched of University of Spokane 8-5 in a Saturday semifinal game of the 3A state tournament at the Regional Athletic Complex, Chaffee quietly cleaned water bottles and bats from the dugout while refusing to crack even a little smile.
“The girls are in it to win it,” she said a few minutes later, while watching the final inning of Kamiakin’s semifinal win over Juanita to set up the championship matchup. “They’re really pumped. We’ll come out fired up (for this afternoon’s 2:30 p.m. championship game) and ready to play.”
Her lack of emotions notwithstanding, Chaffee had to be churning inside for most of Saturday morning’s semifinal. Despite a third victory by a margin of at least three runs — the Seagulls have yet to trail in a single game during the state tournament — Everett (25-1) couldn’t quite put University away until the final out.
Star Lexie Levin, a left-handed pitcher who has thrown all 21 innings this tournament, wasn’t perfect on the mound but made sure she didn’t have to be. She went 4 for 4 at the plate, with two doubles and four RBI.
Her bases-clearing double in the bottom of the fifth inning scored three runs to give Everett a 4-0 lead, and she scored two batters later on Alexis Dittoe’s single to rightfield.
University imploded that inning, with three costly errors that all led to runs as EHS turned a 1-0 lead into a 5-0 advantage.
But the Titans got right back in the game after opening the top of the sixth with back-to-back hits and eventually scoring three runs to pull within 5-3.
Everett’s Chloe Kesterson helped the Seagulls breathe a little easier in the bottom of the sixth, hitting a three-run homer that extended the lead to 8-3. The blast also helped twin sister Lauren Kesterson cross home plate for the 10th time in three tournament games _ likely approaching a state record, although the WIAA does not keep those statistics.
But University still had one rally left in it, and after one-out, two-run homer by Hailey Wesselman, the Titans were back within three runs, at 8-5.
Two nice defensive plays by Everett second baseman Olivia Juarez ended that threat and sent the Seagulls into another rendition of the school fight song along the third-base line.
“I’m excited,” said Levin, who is scheduled to start this afternoon’s state final game against Kamiakin at 2:30 p.m. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. We’ll give it our all and leave it all on the field.”