SNOHOMISH — The way the starting pitchers from were throwing, it looked as though one timely hit might decide Thursday’s softball showdown between Lake Stevens and Snohomish.
The Panthers got two.
The hits allowed Snohomish to defeat the Vikings 3-2 and earn at least a share of the Wesco 4A North regular-season championship. In the process, the Panthers locked up the No. 1 seed from the North entering the 4A District 1 tournament.
The Vikings struck first in the top of the fourth inning with a sacrifice-fly by pitcher Sierra Card that gave Lake Stevens a 1-0 lead. The Panthers answered in the bottom of the fourth when Anna Pisac’s RBI double down the left-field line tied the score 1-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, it looked as though Card was set to retire the side in order when she was called for an illegal pitch, putting Lan Nguyen first base. Trysten Melhart then tripled to right field, scoring Nguyen. Melhart scored later on Jenny Winston’s single.
“I don’t know if that (the illegal pitch) was the game-changer or not,” Lake Stevens coach Adrianne Lartz said. “But Sierra pitched a fantastic game. When these games are tight like that, any little thing can be the reason, or a momentum changer, I guess.”
Melhart’s triple was her league-leading eighth of the season.
“She is a slapper and a hitter, which means she can play soft or hard,” Snohomish coach Lou Kennedy said. “She has unbelievable wheels. It’s hard to stop her when she gets going. When she plays the soft game, she can beat it out and when she plays the hard game, she can drive it in the gap and just keep running.”
Winston’s RBI single proved to be the game-winner because the Vikings added a run in the top of the sixth on an RBI-single by Amie Browder. After Browder’s single, the Vikings still had two runners on base with just one out, but were never able to get the equalizer.
Freshman Alyssa Simons pitched a complete game for the Panthers, giving up just three hits and two earned runs. She walked two batters and struck out 12. She got a ground out and consecutive strikeouts in the top of the seventh inning to end the game.
“Alyssa is averaging 12 strike outs,” Kennedy said. “That’s really amazing for a freshman. That’s unbelievable. The nice thing about it is she is just a wonderful kid. She’s a power-pitcher with a really good rise-ball.”
Card was impressive for Lake Stevens as well, keeping the Panthers’ hitters guessing throughout the game.
“We don’t hit the ball square on her,” Kennedy said. “Most of the time when I watch her pitch, she spins the ball really hard which means it gets lots of movement and makes it hard to hit the ball square on her. If she can work the outside corner and keep you from trying to pull the ball, then she is going to make you pay for it.”
After the game, Kennedy expressed pride in what his team has accomplished this season.
“It (the Wesco North title) is huge,” Kennedy said. “It’s great. I have been here nine years and we’ve sniffed it a little, but never really got there.
“This group worked so hard. It’s really impressive. They do things without being told. They run their own drills and they warm themselves up. I don’t have to go out and sit on them at all. They discipline themselves when they are having problems. It’s a really mature group.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Snohomish H.S.
Sierra Cord and Tenya Harney. Alyssa Simons and Morgan Greenlee. WP — Simons. LP — Cord. 2B — Anna Pisac (S). 3B — Trysten Melhart (S). Records — Lake Stevens 10-2 league, 14-4 overall; Snohomish 12-1, 17-1.