By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
MONROE — A week ago, Monroe was grateful to get to the Class 4A District 1 softball tournament as the fourth and final seed from the Western Conference North.
On Thursday, the Bearcats hoisted the championship trophy.
Pitcher Alyssa Egan flirted with a perfect game, then with a no-hitter and finally settled for a three-hit shutout as Monroe thumped Marysville Pilchuck 11-0 in the title game. The Bearcats totaled 12 hits, four for extra bases, including home runs from shortstop Devan Larsen and third baseman Kathleen Sundet, to turn an expected thriller into a romp.
Despite a modest 15-8 record (12-8 in the regular season), the Bearcats “are capable of playing with anybody,” coach Curt Eskeback said. “And the girls know that. … Our goal (this season) was to get to districts. And then if you perform at districts, good things will happen. And they did.”
Against the Tomahawks, “we just got our bats going,” Larsen said. “This feels great. We’ve put a lot of work into our practices and all of our games, so it’s finally paid off.”
Being the district champion “has a great ring to it,” Sundet said. “I’m so excited that we did this. We worked really hard to get here, and I’m just excited that all our work paid off.”
For much of the game, Monroe hitters kept putting balls in play and those balls kept finding holes in the Marysville Pilchuck defense. Four or five hits were bloopers just beyond backtracking infielders and in front of oncoming outfielders. There were also ground balls placed perfectly through the infield.
But in the final inning, the Bearcats put the game away with an emphatic six-run outburst. Five of the runs scored on long homers — a towering three-run blast to center field by Larsen and another no-doubt bomb to left field by Sundet.
Every player in Monroe’s lineup hit safely but one, and every player but one scored. Larsen was one of the offensive stars, going 2-for-3 with a home run and reaching base four times. Another was second baseman Kelly Hanson, who was 2-for-4 and scored three runs.
All that offense, meanwhile, was much more than Egan needed. She retired the first 13 hitters she faced, then lost the perfect game with one out in the fifth on an unlikely error. After an infield grounder, first baseman Michaela Johnson took a throw that beat the runner, but the umpire ruled Johnson pulled her foot from the bag before catching the ball.
Marysville Pilchuck got its first base hit with one out in the sixth when third baseman Abigail Otto laced a clean single into center field. The Tomahawks added two more singles in the seventh and had the bases loaded with two outs, but Egan preserved the shutout by getting a game-ending groundout.
“I felt extremely confident,” said Egan, a junior who finished with five strikeouts. “Like, honestly, nothing could get in my way. And I had a really good team to back me up, so I had total confidence in them as well.”
“She came to play,” Eskeback said. “She got ahead of the hitters and just did her job. She had control of the game.”
The outcome gives Monroe a boost of momentum heading into next weekend’s Class 4A state tournament. It will be the program’s first trip to state since 2008.
“We’re going to be totally on top of our game because we know we can do it now,” Sundet said. “We did it here, so why can’t we do it there?”
For Marysville Pilchuck, the consolation is the team already is assured a state tournament berth. But that was maybe the culprit, too, according to coach Aaron Zachry.
“I’m disappointed because I don’t feel like the girls were focused enough for a district title game,” Zachry said. “And we had discussions about that. I said, ‘Don’t just settle for going to state. There’s a district title still on the line, so let’s come out and play our softball.’
“But I don’t think we did that. I think we were already at state.”
At Sky River Park
Monroe 200 201 6—11 12 2
Marysville Pilchuck 000 000 0—0 3 2
Egan and Dalamare; Clow and Christensen. WP—Egan. LP—Clow. 2B—Ochoa (M), Delamare (M). HR—Larsen (M), Sundet (M). Records—Monroe 15-8, Marysville Pilchuck 16-7.