GRANITE FALLS — The Granite Falls softball team had an opportunity Friday not only to clinch a district playoff berth, but to make a statement about how they are evolving as a team and a play for second place in the Cascade Conference.
The Tigers seized that opportunity with both hands, sweeping a doubleheader against current second-place Lakewood 13-1 and 5-2.
Lauren Harding dominated in the pitcher’s circle, holding Lakewood to three runs and six hits over 13 innings.
“She has just stepped up and really become a fantastic pitcher and a fantastic leader on the team,” said Tigers head coach Jillian Piland.
Piland has been working with Harding to exploit hitters’ weaknesses and to be more intelligent.
“She threw her screwball today that was just phenomenal,” Piland said. “No one could hit it. She has been my workhorse for sure.”
The rest of the Granite Falls squad stepped up as well, racking up 18 runs on 27 hits in the two games. Caitlyn Munce hit a combined 5-for-6 with three RBI and catcher Lacy Downs finished the day 4-for-7 with six RBI and a triple in each game.
“Being a new coach this year it has been a challenge getting to know the players. We knew it was going to be a big one (today). The girls have a lot of fight in them and they came out with their top game,” said Piland.
The sweep means that Granite Falls owns the tiebreaker against Lakewood for the Cascade Conference No. 2 seed. So if the Tigers win their final two games or splits the last two and Lakewood loses its finale Granite Falls is guaranteed the No. 2 seed in the district tournament.
At Granite Falls H.S.
Haley Malakowski, Jennaka Larson (5) and Mikayla Holmes. Lauren Harding and Lacy Downs. WP—Harding (9-4). LP—Malakowski. 2B—Mikayla Engstrom (GF), Emily Walbon (GF), Lacy Downs (GF). 3B—Lacy Downs (GF), Maddie Holmes (L). Records—Lakewood 11-5 league, 12-6 overall. Granite Falls 10-5, 11-6.
Haley Malakowski and Mikayla Holmes. Lauren Harding and Lacy Downs. WP—Harding (9-4). LP—Malakowski. 2B—Haley Malakowski (L), Jennaka Larson (L). 3B—Lacy Downs (GF). Records—Lakewood 11-5 league, 12-6 overall. Granite Falls 10-5, 11-6.