By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
LACEY — The Regional Athletic Complex, for all its amenities and well-kept softball fields, has the unfortunate distinction of being positioned directly across the street from a fume-generating landfill. When the wind picks up, there’s a lot more than home runs to worry about for fastpitch softball players at the facility where this year’s 3A state tournament is being held, and the wafting smell never seems to go away.
The Everett High School softball team had a similar effect on its first two opponents Friday, jumping out to early leads and never letting the opposition breathe easily as the Seagulls breezed into the 3A state semifinals.
“Our game plan is to come out hard and put the pressure on,” said senior leadoff hitter Lauren Kesterson, who scored a rather remarkable total of seven runs as Everett dispatched Liberty and Enumclaw by a combined score of 14-3 Friday. “… It’s always nice to score runs early. You’re relaxed, you feel good. Today, it felt right.”
The Seagulls (24-1) move into a semifinal matchup with University, with a trip to this afternoon’s state finals on the line. The two teams are scheduled to play at 9 a.m.
“I’m excited,” said senior pitcher Lexie Levin, who threw all 14 innings Friday and expects to be on the mound for however many more the Seagulls need her to pitch today. “I think we deserve it. We worked hard.”
Everett was one of two local teams to get out of Friday’s first round. Meadowdale couldn’t follow up its morning theatrics, succumbing to Kamiakin 11-0 in six innings of a quarterfinal matchup and losing 3-2 to Wilson in the consolation bracket to bring its season to an end. The Mavericks finished 18-8.
By comparison, Everett had a much easier opening day. The Seagulls never trailed in either game and turned their afternoon quarterfinal into a laugher after Levin pitched out of a fourth-inning jam while clinging to a 3-1 lead — thanks in part to catcher Kayla Deditius’s knockdown tag at the plate. The Seagulls scored three times in the top of the fifth, then added a solo homer from Levin in the sixth for a 7-1 lead.
Shortly after the home run, EHS mascot Sammy the Seagull arrived on the scene to join a somewhat raucous student section. When Everett finally put the finishing touches on Enumclaw by way of a 9-2 victory, the players gathered in front of the stands and broke out in the school song.
Coach Casey Chaffee said she hopes the sweet music continues well into this afternoon.
“That’s the plan,” she said of winning a state title. “From Day 1, that’s the goal we set. They’re going to be upset if we fall short of that.”
Everett used surgical precision to get out of Friday morning’s opener, dissecting Liberty 5-1. The Seagulls’ first five batters reached base, although they had to settle for two runs while leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, and Liberty never really threatened after that.
Cherise Shaver had two RBI for Everett, which also scored on a throwing error and a wild pitch. Liberty’s lone run came in the top of the fourth, when the Patriots caught Everett napping for a double steal with two outs for an unearned run. Levin allowed four hits and one unearned run in the win.
For Meadowdale, getting out of the first round was much more dramatic.
Mavericks leadoff hitter, Shannon Haukap, hit an unconventional three-run homer with one out in the top of the seventh inning and Meadowdale trailing Peninsula 3-1. The homer, which bounced off the glove of the Peninsula centerfielder, gave Meadowdale its first lead of the game en route to a 4-3 victory.
Haukap’s one-out homer came with runners on first and second base, and it’s conceivable that no one would have scored had the centerfielder made the play. The towering fly ball to right-centerfield forced both baserunners to tag up, then the ball bounced off the centerfielder’s mitt as she attempted to catch it in the gap.
The ball, which would have landed at the base of the wall had it not been touched, hopped out of the fielder’s glove and over the fence for a three-run homer that surprised just about everyone in attendance and capped off a four-run top of the seventh.
“Obviously, I wasn’t trying to hit a home run,” Haukap said. “That kind of hit comes when you least expect it.”
Meadowdale’s only other run came when Ciarra Hart led off the seventh with a solo homer to account for the Mavericks’ first run after they fell behind 3-0 in the fifth.
Meadowdale had 11 hits in that game but went 0-for-8 with runners on base through the first six innings. The Mavericks also had three errors in the win.
The day only got worse for Meadowdale, while the early fireworks and unrelenting play of Everett just kept right on rolling.
The Seagulls have no plans of letting their opponents breathe easy today. Unless Everett can bring home what is believed to be the school’s first-ever state title in fastpitch, the Seagulls won’t be satisfied.
“Every girl on this team, they’ve got it in them,” said Chafee, a first-year coach, after watching her team combine for 19 hits in a pair of wins Friday. “They’ll be ready; they always are. They’ve got that in them. Whatever it is, they’ve got it.”
At Regional Athletic Complex, Lacey
Everett 9, Enumclaw 2
Levin and Deditius. Young, Carlson (7) and Cox. WP—Levin. LP—Young. 2B—Young (Enumclaw). 3B—Harper (Everett). HR—Levin (Everett). Records—Everett 24-1.
Kamiakin 11, Meadowdale 0
Reuble and Haukap. Kamphuis and Miracle. WP—Kamphuis. LP—Reuble. 2B—Miracle (K) 1, Richards (K) 1. HR—Benson (K) 1. Records—Meadowdale 18-9 overall.
Wilson 3, Meadowdale 2
X. X. WP—X. LP—X. 2B—X.
Everett 5, Liberty 1
Smith and Bukante. Levin and Deditius. WP—Levin. LP—Smith. 2B—Bukante (L), Shaver (E).
Meadowdale 4, Peninsula 3
Reuble and Haukap. Ison and Morgan. WP—Reuble. LP—Ison. 2B—Haukap (M), Morgan (P). 3B—Bri.Surratt (P). HR—Hart and Haukap (M).