By David Krueger Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Meadowdale softball team is almost halfway to wrapping up their postseason with the ultimate goal.
A state championship.
The Mavericks cruised through Phase 1, allowing only one run total in three district playoff games. That run came Thursday evening, as Meadowdale defeated Everett 8-1 in the 3A District 1 championship game at Phil Johnson Fields.
Next up: the 3A state tournament next weekend in Lacey. “When we came in to districts we said, ‘OK, we’ve got seven games to win if you want a state championship. That’s the mission,’” said Meadowdale head coach Dennis Hopkins. “‘First, you’ve got to start with districts. That’s three.’ Well, we’ve completed part of the mission. Now we’ve got to get the next four.”
Meadowdale pitcher Lauren Dent continued a strong junior campaign, scattering four hits and allowing only one run in the top of the fourth inning — the first she’s allowed in the entire district tournament.
“She’s really coming into her own,” Hopkins said. “(Samantha Gregoryk has pitched) a little less than half of the games, but between the two of them they’re really solid.”
“It’s so exciting,” said Dent’s catcher, fellow junior Emma Helm. “She’s such a good pitcher. She’s been doing so well.”
The Mavericks’ offense provided Dent all the run support she needed with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second inning. Gregoryk crushed a three-run home run in a four-run rally to put Meadowdale ahead 4-0.
The Mavericks added three runs in the third and one more in the fourth to pad their lead over the Seagulls.
“It sparks the team, any time you get a big hit like that,” Hopkins said of Gregoryk’s homer. “It’s like you light a fire. And that little ember just explodes.
“Everybody starts to feed on it. Then you feed on it defensively. It puts that little bit of extra effort. It’s like a shot of adrenaline.”
Eight different players accounted for the Mavericks’ eight hits, with Lauren Wallace hitting an RBI double and Dent providing some offense as well with a two-run single for Meadowdale, which is heading to the 3A state tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
“They’ve got a great lineup, no doubt about it,” Everett head coach Mike Millar said. “We know that about them. They’re a handful, to say the least.”
It was the second consecutive season Meadowdale and Everett met in the district championship, but a far different result from a season ago when the Seagulls rolled to a 15-1 win en route to a second-place finish at state.
Meadowdale went on to place third at the 3A state tournament.
“Knowing it was Everett again, and after last year’s debacle that we went through, we came a lot more prepared to play this year than we did last year,” Hopkins said. “We knew what we could do — when we beat them earlier in the season (11-1 on April 21). But they’re a tough competitor all the time.”
Millar and Hopkins said Everett-Meadowdale is quickly becoming a fun rivalry between the Wesco 3A North and South teams. There was a good crowd on hand for the latest matchup between the squads Thursday night.
“You can see by how many fans were here tonight. It’s a big game every year,” Hopkins said. “We just hope to keep rolling with it.”
Both teams will again begin preparations for Lacey. Millar said going up against Meadowdale (20-3 overall), as well as several other tough teams at the district tournament, will help prepare the Seagulls for the next step.
Along with Everett (18-5) and the Mavericks, Marysville Pilchuck and Glacier Peak also qualified for the 3A state tournament.
“They give us a good idea of where we need to get to and where we need to improve,” Millar said. “Hopefully we can clean some things up and get the bats going for (state).”
Gabby Koehler, who hit three home runs in two games on Tuesday, led the Everett offense with half of the Seagulls’ four hits — including a pair of doubles and a run scored.
Other than that, Dent was in control most of the way.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Millar said. “… They’ve got a good one there.”
At Phil Johnson Fields
WP: Lauren Dent. LP: Sydney Taggart. Individual highlights: Everett—Gabby Koehler (2-3), 2 2B, R). Meadowdale—Samantha Gregoryk (3-run HR); Lauren Wallace (2B, RBI, R); Dent (2 RBI). Records—Everett 18-5 overall. Meadowdale 20-3.