By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Two swings of the bat and the Sultan softball team is off to state for the first time ever.
Trailing 3-2 and down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Turks got an RBI single from Randi Tuggle and an RBI double from Bethany Kirkpatrick to beat Lakewood 4-3 in a semifinal game at the 2A District 1/2 Tournament at Janicki Fields on Wednesday.
“It feels amazing,” said Sultan head coach Garth MacDicken. “I’ve been around some of these girls since they were eight, nine years old. I’m just speechless.”
Sultan advances to Friday’s district championship game, where it faces Lake Washington at 6 p.m. at Janicki Fields. The wins Wednesday guaranteed the Turks a spot in the state tournament, marking the first time they’ve gone to state in the fastpitch era. MacDicken said Sultan went as a slowpitch team.
Lakewood now must get one more win to advance to state. The Cougars, who beat Burlington-Edison 7-5 in the first round on Wednesday, face Anacortes in a consolation bracket game on Friday at 4 p.m.
“We came in with the attitude that any two will do,” said Lakewood head coach Steve Barker.
Lakewood scored two runs in the first to build an early lead on Sultan starter Shelby Jeffries. The Turks chipped away, scoring a run in the fourth and another in the fifth to tie the score, but it could have been much more. Sultan left nine runners on base and had a runner stranded on third base in seven of the game’s nine innings.
Jeffries, meanwhile, buckled down. The Sultan starter held Lakewood scoreless over the next seven innings and finished with 14 strikeouts to keep the Turks in the game.
“She gets what she deserves because she works so hard,” MacDicken said of Jeffries. “There’s no athlete in any sport I’ve ever coached that works as hard.”
Lakewood threatened in the eighth with two hits to start the inning, but Jeffries got a pair of strikeouts and a fly out to second base to end it. Lakewood starter Hailey Malakowski got out of trouble herself in the bottom of the eighth, getting a fielder’s choice and a strikeout to strand a runner on third.
In the ninth, a runner started the inning on second base due to international tiebreaker rules. Lakewood took advantage as Terah Barrio’s two-out RBI bloop single to left field gave the Cougars the lead 3-2.
In the bottom half, Sultan moved its runner over to third base on a groundout to second. The next hitter grounded out to third, keeping the runner there and putting Sultan’s season on the brink.
But Randi Tuggle hit a line drive that clipped Lakewood shortstop Kiana Smith’s glove and fell to the ground, allowing the run to score. Next up, Kirkpatrick hit an opposite-field shot over the left fielder’s head to score Tuggle from first and send Sultan to state.
Sultan 4, Sedro-Woolley 1
At Janicki Fields
Sedro-Woolley 000 100 0 — 1 4 4
Sultan 000 130 0 — 4 6 1
Ashley Queen and Beka Mattews. Shelby Jeffries and Rachel Kirkpatrick. WP—Jeffries. LP—Queen. 2B—Randi Tuggle (S). HR—Bethany Kirkpatrick (S). Records—Sultan 17-4 overall. Sedro-Woolley 13-7.
Sultan 4, Lakewood 3 (9)
Lakewood 200 000 001 — 3 8 6
Sultan 000 110 002 — 4 7 1
Hailey Malakowski and Jenna Melton. Shelby Jeffries and Rachel Kirkpatrick. WP—Jeffries. LP—Malakowski. 2B—Randi Tuggle (S), Belle Ellis (S). 3B—Jennaka Larson (L). Records—Lakewood 13-9 overall. Sultan 17-4.
Lakewood 7, Burl.-Edison 5
Lakewood 012 100 3 — 7 6 1
B-E 003 001 1 — 5 7 4
Hailey Malakowski and Jenna Melton. Vanderveen and Lambert. WP—Malakowski. LP—Vanderveen. 2B—Terah Barrio (L). 3B—Vanderveen (BE), J. Smith (BE). HR—Hayton (BE), Malakowski (L), Kiana Smith (L). Records—Lakewood 13-9 overall.
Anacortes 9, Granite Falls 6
At Janicki Fields
Anacortes 004 032 0 — 9 8 2
Granite Falls 141 000 0 — 6 7 2
Brittany Writer and Aubrey Costanza. Lauren Harding, Kasey Bergan (6) and Bergan, Dannica West (6). WP—Writer. LP—Harding. 2B—Amber Writer (A). HR—Bergan (GF), Costanza (A).
Lynden 7, Granite Falls 5
At Janicki Fields
Lynden 100 312 0 — 7 9 6
Granite Falls 000 220 1 — 5 10 5
T. Benson and M. Warner. Lauren Harding and Kasey Bergan. 2B—Kelsey Bechtoldt (GF) 2, T. Eshuis (L). 3B—T. Snyder (L). HR—Benson (L).