By Chris Trujillo For The Weekly Herald
SNOHOMISH — Glacier Peak pitcher Callie Bircher zeroed in on her targets like a missile. Not only did she have to focus on the strike zone, but she also had to combat the steady rainfall that fell the entire game — two things she did impressively.
Bircher struck out five while throwing a no-hitter in the Grizzlies’ 6-0 victory over Lynnwood April 20 in a Western Conference 3A softball game at Glacier Peak High School.
“We couldn’t do anything about the rain, so we had to just play through it,” Glacier Peak coach Brad Johnson said. “But Callie (Bircher) did a great job pitching. The ball was wet and her hands were cold, so for her to keep going for as long as she did was great. It was an impressive pitching effort.”
Bircher threw her second no-hitter of the season, but missed out on the perfect-game opportunity by walking two batters and hitting another. Nevertheless, Bircher blew through the lineup in the fifth inning, striking out the first two batters and forcing Lynnwood’s Kendra Smith to hit a fly ball for the third and final out. The game was stopped after five.
“This was a pretty big game for us,” Lynnwood coach Matt Rockne said. “So it’s too bad that we had the weather we had. The playing conditions just got too bad out there. But I think it’s still early enough in the season to get things going again. We’re now seeing teams for the second time, so we know who we’re up against.”
The Grizzlies’ biggest defensive test came in the second inning. With one out, Bircher walked Lynnwood’s Jessica Gott and Becca McDowell two batters later. Gott stole second base, and then reached third base on a sacrifice ground ball by Desiree Graham. But the Royals’ would-be rally ended with the next at-bat, a routine grounder to shortstop.
While the Grizzlies were able to march through the innings swiftly and stay somewhat less drenched, the Royals’ defense wouldn’t be as fortunate. In the first inning, and after striking out the leadoff batter, Gott went on to walk four consecutive batters and hit another. Consequently, Glacier Peak scored two runs.
“We had four walks and hit a batter, all in the first inning,” Rockne said. “So I think the weather definitely played a big part. But offensively we didn’t get it going. The girls’ hands were cold and wet, and I don’t think they were swinging as aggressively as they would’ve if it was dry out. It was a tough day for us.”
The second inning didn’t get any easier. Two walks, a single by Kaitlyn Davis and a Gott wild pitch allowed Alexis Michael to score from third base, extending the lead to 3-0. Two batters later, Chantel Conrad hit a two-run double and Kaylee Dawson followed with an RBI single, scoring Conrad and giving Glacier Peak its six-run lead.
With the victory, the Grizzlies took over second place in Western Conference 3A.