By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — According to Arlington High School softball coach Dan Eng, the Eagles have a philosophy:
“No one wants to make the last out.”
The Eagles stretched that philosophy to the limits Monday afternoon, but in the end it held true.
Arlington, down to its final strike, staged a stunning rally as the Eagles upended the Lake Stevens Vikings 4-1 to set up a wild final day in the Wesco 4A North.
Arlington scored all four of its runs after having two out and two strikes with nobody on base in the top of the seventh inning. Katelynn Kazen produced the hit that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The rally backed the strong pitching of Ronnie Ladines, who tossed a four-hitter and struck out 11.
“This team, we have a lot of guts, and we don’t like losing, obviously,” said Ladines, who also had a big hit during the decisive rally. “So we just always want to rally and keep it together.”
The unlikely turnaround means there will be plenty for both teams to play for when the regular season concludes Wednesday. Had Lake Stevens held on the Vikings would have clinched second in the Wesco 4A North. Instead, Arlington (10-3 league, 15-3 overall) and Lake Stevens (10-3, 14-5) head into their final games tied for second. Both teams face formidable foes in their finales as Arlington entertains top-seeded Snohomish and Lake Stevens travels to face a solid Monroe team. Since the Eagles and Vikings split their two meetings, the tiebreaker is the draw held before the school year, and Arlington holds the advantage.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Eng said.
“This was anyone’s ballgame,” Eng added. “I thought it would be a one-run game, and that’s the way it was basically all the way to the seventh. Fortunately we got a few breaks with two outs.”
Katelynn McDonald had two hits and scored the tying run in the seventh to pace Arlington’s offense.
Sierra Card tossed a nine-hitter and struck out five for Lake Stevens, which beat Arlington 6-2 on April 2 when Ladines was still recovering from a broken finger.
“My girls played hard, they played good the whole way through,” Lake Stevens coach Adrianne Lartz said. “It came down to the end and Arlington turned it on. I have to give them credit, they started hitting the ball hard. We got two outs, they got the bases loaded and kept the runs coming. But we battled Ronnie, she’s a fantastic pitcher. She throws some heat and we’d forgotten how fast she throws.”
Arlington’s prospects looked grim in the top of the seventh inning. Lake Stevens had just scratched a run out in the bottom of the sixth to snap a scoreless tie. Then the Vikings got two quick outs in the top of the seventh.
But McDonald worked a full-count walk to give the Eagles a baserunner. Ladines followed by lining a single to center — a hit Eng credited as the one that truly sparked the rally. Another walk drawn by Lynsey Amundson loaded the bases and got the Arlington bench and stands on their feet.
That brought Kazen to the plate, and on the first pitch she saw she went the opposite direction, lining a single to right. Two runs came around to give the Eagles a shocking lead.
It didn’t stop there. Marisa Rathert followed by sending a sharp grounder toward third that got through the defense. Two more runs scored as Arlington went ahead 4-1.
“This team is weird. We’re good, but we just like to hide it for a while,” Ladines said with a chuckle. “We always like to do our two-out rallies, and that’s just what kind of happened. We came together as a team and everyone contributed to it, so it was awesome.”
It seemed Arlington would have to settle for third in the Wesco 4A North when the Vikings took the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a run manufactured largely by Rayne Sylvester. Sylvester led the inning off by grounding a single to left. She stole second, then advanced to third on a dropped third strike — with the Arlington supporters howling that Sylvester had been thrown out on the play. Card followed with a suicide squeeze bunt. Ladines raced to the ball a shoveled it toward the plate just as Sylvester arrived. There was a big collision between Sylvester and Amundson, who was catching. The ball rolled free and Sylvester was called safe to give Lake Stevens what looked like the winning run.
But that didn’t account for Arlington adhering to its philosophy.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Arlington 000 000 4—4 9 2
Lake Stevens 000 001 0—1 4 2
Ronnie Ladines and Lynsey Amundson. Sierra Card and Tehya Harney. WP—Ladines. LP—Card. 2B—Hayley Fields (A). Records—Arlington 10-3 league, 15-3 overall. Lake Stevens 10-3, 14-5.