LYNDEN — After beating Burlington-Edison 3-2 in 10 innings in the first-round game, the Tigers won another thriller against Lake Washington to claim a state berth.
Lauren Harding hit a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh as the Tigers rallied to an 8-7 victory at Bender Fields in Lynden.
“The girls are fighters, battlers and they never give up,” Granite Falls head coach Jillian Piland. “They just have the best attitude and outlook and never stop fighting no matter what and that’s been a gamechanger for us throughout the entire season.”
The pair of come-from-behind wins ensures a fifth straight state tournament appearance for Granite Falls. The Cascade Conference No. 1 seed will play Northwest Conference regular season champion Lynden on Friday in the district final.
The opportunity to defend last year’s district title seemed lost after Lake Washington scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 7-6 lead and put the Tigers on the ropes. But like the first game, when Granite Falls trailed 2-1 going in to its final at-bat, the Tigers’ offense sprang to life when they needed it the most.
Makenzie McLaughlin and Hailey Teter both reached base to set up Harding. With two outs, the Tigers starting pitcher hit a shot all the way to fence in left-center field. McLaughlin scored easily and Teter slid underneath the tag of Lake Washington catcher Dakota Pettit with the game-deciding run. It was the second two-run double of the day for Harding, who finished 3-for-4 with four RBI, and ended a long day in the circle for the sophomore.
Harding tossed all 17 innings on Wednesday, throwing a total of 232 pitches.
“We knew going in that Lauren was going to throw both games,” Piland said. “She has done phenomenal as our No. 1 pitcher … and by looking at her, you wouldn’t think she was tired. She was throwing just as well as the last inning as the first.”
Harding’s batterymate, Lacey Downs, hit a two-run single in the third to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. Taylor Ferleman doubled and homered to lead Lake Washington.
At Bender Fields
Maddie Brown, Kim Veldee (6) and Dakota Petitt. Lauren Harding and Lacey Downs. WP—Harding (13-3). LP—Veldee. 2B—Veldee, Taylor Ferleman (LW), Harding 2. HR—Ferleman. Records—Lake Washington 16-5 overall. Granite Falls 16-6.
Granite Falls 3, Burlington-Edison 2
LYNDEN — Granite Falls shortstop Caitlyn Munce hit a walk-off, two-run single in the bottom of 10th to help the Tigers win their opening-round game at the 2A District 1/2 Tournament. Kelsey Bechtholdt finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and Granite Falls starter Lauren Harding pitched all 10 innings to earn the victory.
At Bender Fields
Kylie Lambert, Riley Vanderveen (6) and Mackenzie Jacobson. Lauren Harding and Lacey Downs. WP—Harding (12-3). LP—Vanderveen. 2B—Chandler Hardy (BE) 2, Caitlyn Munce (GF). Records—Burlington-Edison 12-8 overall. Granite Falls 15-6.