Freshman leads Mavs to 3A District softball title

EVERETT — Meadowdale freshman Samantha Gregoryk made her varsity debut in the first round of the Class 3A District 1 tournament Tuesday against Oak Harbor. Two days — and two games — later, she helped the Mavericks win their first district title since the 1980s.

Gregoryk hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap a five-run rally that lifted Meadowdale past Mountlake Terrace 6-5 Thursday night at Phil Johnson Field.

“She’s been doing well at JV so we said, ‘All right. Let’s bring her up and throw her in,’” Meadowdale head coach Dennis Hopkins said.

Gregoryk, the flex player — softball’s equivalent of the designated hitter — was the No. 9 batter in the Mavericks’ lineup. With the score tied 3-3, she crushed a ball over the fence in left center and sprinted around the bases to join her teammates, who had huddled at home plate to congratulate her.

“Words can’t describe how happy I am,” Gregoryk said. “I thought the ball hit the front of the fence, so I was running fast. Then all my teammates started running out and I was like, ‘Oh, there it goes.’”

Meadowdale started the sixth inning down 3-1 after the Hawks scored three runs in the top half of the inning on a two-run single by Kelsey Watson and a Maddy Kristjanson RBI single. The Mavericks’ Ashley Brooke hit a single and her pinch-runner scored when the next batter, catcher Rebecca Wright, hit a double to left field. Hailey Costello then reached base on an error.

Wright probably would have scored on the error if the ball hadn’t hit Hopkins, Meadowdale’s third-base coach, who was not pleased with himself after the play.

“I was bummed that I didn’t get out of the way in time,” Hopkins said. “But I’ll take the bruise. I’ll take one for the team. But yeah, she would have scored.”

Instead, Wright waited for Julia Reuble to walk before she scored on a passed ball, tying the game 3-3. After a strikeout, Gregoryk came to the plate with two runners on and two out.

“When I went up there, right before the hit, I smiled,” Gregoryk said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to hit this.’ And I did.”

However, the game was far from over. Mountlake Terrace responded with a two-run homer by Hannah Wilcox in the top of the seventh to cut the difference to one run.

But pitcher Alyssa Reuble, the only senior on the Meadowdale squad, struck out the last two batters, giving her 12 in the game.

“I was counting the outs and the pitches,” Hopkins said of the seventh inning. “I figure next year I’ll get an AED (automated external defibrillator) for the dugout.”

The game was close, just as the coaches predicted, but there was one thing that caught them a bit by surprise.

“More runs were scored than I thought (there would be),” Hawks head coach Shannon Rasmussen said. “I was expecting a low-scoring game and it was that way until the sixth inning. I knew it’d be close. We’ve given them a run for their money each time.”

The win gave Meadowdale its first district championship since the 1980s. Winning it was a goal the team had at the start of the season. Both the Mavericks and Mountlake Terrace advance to next weekend’s 3A state tournament in Lacey, where Rasmussen is hoping the Hawks again take on Meadowdale and that the fourth time will be the charm.

“I would love another shot at Meadowdale,” Rasmussen said. “Beating a team three times is really hard. Beating a team four times is even harder. I think we can definitely go out there and battle with the best of them.”

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