By David Krueger Herald Writer
It’s not just the excitement of playoff action that has the Lynnwood softball team is ready and eager for the district tournament to get underway.
The Royals also have some new threads to show off.
Lynnwood got brand new white uniforms just in time for today’s 4A District 1 tournament. The Royals are hoping to get to wear those new jerseys for several games as they look to make a big statement in the postseason.
“Just knowing that for the seniors this is going to be our last run, we have to be confident going in and know that we can beat any team on any given day,” said Lynnwood senior Jasmin Edwards. “We just have to bring our best game every time.”
Edwards is one of five seniors for the Royals that have never won a district playoff game. Lynnwood is 0-2 in the last three district tournaments.
A standout basketball player, Edwards was The Herald’s all-area Player of the Year while leading the Lynnwood basketball team to a third-place finish at the state tournament.
She is the only member of the Royals softball team with state experience in any sport.
“It’s obviously a different situation, but just having been in those competitive, stressful situations does help,” Edwards said. “It keeps you calm.”
Lynnwood has transformed from a 6-16 team last season, to a 14-6 squad this year. The Royals started the year winning nine of their first 10 games. They pushed eventual Wesco 4A South champion Jackson in a 10-inning game in their regular-season finale before falling 4-3 to the Timberwolves.
But Lynnwood still has the Wesco 4A South’s No. 2 seed in the district tournament, and the team feels good about where it is 20 games into the season.
“It’s an infusion of new players,” said Lynnwood head coach Matt Rockne. “We’re actually a pretty new team. Overall we have like six new girls this year. Two new freshmen, a sophomore that hurt herself in tryouts last year, two girls that were on JV last year move up and a senior back who didn’t play last year. And everybody’s been contributing too.”
Rockne told his players that there would be 13 players on the varsity roster and that “it’s going to be a competitive 13.” The players made the most of their opportunities to leave an impression, scoring 19 runs in an early-season game against Shorewood — right after a tough 6-5 loss to perennial 3A contender Meadowdale — and 16 in their next game against Shorecrest.
“We’d have games where all 13 girls got hits,” Rockne said. “They pushed. Hard.”
The run support has been steady for senior Jessica Gott (12-4), who has had a very strong senior campaign.
“Jessica’s pitching’s been exceptional,” Edwards said. “When she’s on, she’s on. Just having her pitching and keeping the runs off the board for the other team really helps as well.”
Lynnwood went through a bit of a rough patch in the middle of the season. The Royals’ bats were quieted by Jackson star pitcher Sophie Frost, who pitched a no-hitter against Lynnwood in the Timberwolves’ 3-0 win on April 15.
That began a four-game losing streak for the Royals, who also dropped close contests to Monroe, Arlington and Snohomish.
“It was just the middle of the season. Everything kind of slowed down,” said Lynnwood junior Desiree Graham. “We weren’t hitting very well and we got tired I guess.”
Said Rockne: “The bats literally quieted down over those four games. And we ran into some tough teams. The (Wesco 4A) North is very tough.”
The Royals righted the ship with a 3-2 victory over Lake Stevens and have lost just one game since: last Wednesday’s extra-innings thriller with Jackson.
Competing with the Timberwolves still gave Lynnwood some confidence going into the district tournament.
“I think the Jackson game helped a lot because it showed that we can play with the best teams in the league. That we are one of the best teams in the league,” Rockne said. “And I think there’s just some fire. Some anger hanging around that we step in with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”
Going into the rematch with Jackson, the Royals felt like they could hang with the league champions. Graham said the team is incredibly close, and that unity leads to a fun, positive atmosphere that helps Lynnwood thrive.
“When we faced Jackson this last time it was like we were inspired and had this awesome feeling going into the game, like we can do it,” Graham said. “I think we’ll go into districts with that same feeling.”
Lynnwood is hoping to avoid going 0-2 for the fourth-consecutive time at the district tournament. The Royals open with Monroe, which defeated Lynnwood 5-0 on April 18.
The Royals are eager for a little revenge, and to get that first district victory.
“If we can get the first win it’s going to be huge because then we know that we can compete with everyone,” said freshman Maddie Morgan. “Facing Jackson a couple of days ago, we proved to ourselves that we can compete with the best. So if we just keep doing what we’re doing, keep hitting the ball and making good plays I think we can do some really big things.”
Lynnwood is hoping that first victory leads to many more and a strong showing in the playoffs.
After all, they want to get their money’s worth out of the new jerseys.
Said Graham: “It’ll be a little push to do better so we have more time to wear our uniforms.”