LACEY — An exhilarating walkoff win that completed an astounding comeback.
An excruciating walkoff loss that capped a heartbreaking collapse.
It’d be difficult to experience more twists and turns and swings of emotion than the Snohomish High School softball team did in the Class 3A state tournament Friday at Regional Athletic Complex.
The sixth-seeded Panthers opened the day with a stirring rally, erasing a 10-run deficit to beat 11th-seeded Bishop Blanchet 13-12 in a round-of-16 matchup.
But they were on the opposite extreme in the evening’s quarterfinals, when they blew a nine-run sixth-inning lead and fell 14-13 in an eight-inning loss to third-seeded Roosevelt.
The crushing quarterfinal defeat eliminated Wesco 3A/2A champion Snohomish (20-6) from title contention.
The Panthers’ roller coaster ride got off to a nightmare start in the morning, when they fell into an early double-digit hole in their round-of-16 matchup against Bishop Blanchet. The Braves hit a grand slam as part of a nine-run explosion in the top of the third to build a 12-2 lead.
But Snohomish immediately responded.
The Panthers climbed back with a barrage of extra-base hits, totaling six doubles on their way to nine runs over the next two frames. They scored four runs in the third inning and five in the fourth to slice the deficit to 12-11.
That remained the score until the bottom of the seventh, when junior Hurley Mersberg led off with a double. Then after the next two batters reached to load the bases, senior Alli Wilson hit a hard grounder that the second baseman couldn’t handle, allowing the tying run to score.
Skyla Bristol, the ensuing batter, then drew a walk to bring home the winning run for a walkoff victory.
Snohomish rode that momentum to a big lead in its quarterfinal clash against Roosevelt.
The Panthers used some small ball to jump to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, scoring all four runs without the ball leaving the infield.
Wilson then blasted a solo homer in the second and junior Emma Hansen added a bloop run-scoring double in the fourth to make it 6-2.
Snohomish piled on four more runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run double from Wilson that stretched the lead to 10-3.
And the Panthers added three more runs in the sixth, capped by a two-run double from junior Evy Massena that made it 13-4.
At that point, a trip to Saturday morning’s state semifinals seemed all but inevitable for Snohomish.
But the Rough Riders had other ideas.
Roosevelt’s bats surged to life in the bottom of the sixth, plating five runs on five hits and several wild pitches to slice the deficit to 13-9.
The Rough Riders continued their comeback with four more runs in the bottom of the seventh. Lauren Guise provided an emphatic game-tying blow with one out in the frame, blasting a two-run homer over the center-field fence to even the score and send her teammates into a frenzy.
Snohomish put the go-ahead run on third with two outs in the top of the eighth, but Mersberg was called out on a bang-bang play at first for an inning-ending groundout.
In the bottom of the eighth, Roosevelt freshman Maddie Lee laid a well-placed bunt down the third-base line.
It turned into a walkoff Little League home run.
Snohomish’s third baseman charged the ball and rushed an errant throw to first, which allowed Lee to race around the bases toward third. The Panthers then made another errant throw toward third base, which sent Lee sprinting toward home.
Snohomish’s shortstop scooped up the ball and threw to the plate, but Lee slid in safely to send the Rough Riders into delirium and on to the state semifinals.
Roosevelt advanced to face No. 2 seed Lake Washington on Saturday morning for a spot in the state championship game.
Immediately after the brutal quarterfinal loss, Snohomish turned around and faced ninth-seeded Cascade in a late-night, all-Wesco consolation-bracket game that didn’t finish until after midnight. The Panthers fell 8-7 in another walkoff defeat, eliminating them from the tournament.
Arlington reaches quarterfinals before bowing out
Riley Ryan hit a pair of two-run homers to lead 10th-seeded Arlington to a 10-5 win over seventh-seeded University in a round-of-16 matchup.
Ryan’s fourth-inning and sixth-inning blasts gave the Eagles a 6-1 lead. University closed the gap with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Arlington’s Emmaly Morris hit a solo homer in the top of the seventh to kickstart a four-run frame that helped the Eagles (18-8) put the contest out of reach.
Arlington, which was making its first state appearance since 2013, advanced to the state quarterfinals with the victory.
However, the Eagles mustered just two hits in an 11-1 six-inning quarterfinal loss to No. 2 seed Lake Washington. Arlington then was eliminated from the tournament with a 12-2 loss to 13th-seeded Monroe in an all-Wesco consolation-bracket game.
MG earns 1st state win, puts scare into top seed
Morgan Epperson tossed a one-hitter and 16th-seeded Marysville Getchell earned its first-ever state win, beating 17th-seeded Eastside Catholic 8-1 in a play-in round game.
Epperson, a senior, struck out 10 batters and walked three in what was the Chargers’ first state tournament game in their program’s decade-long history. She didn’t allow an earned run.
Marysville Getchell (15-12) then hung with the tournament’s top seed during a 2-0 loss to Walla Walla in the round of 16.
Epperson pitched another gem, limiting the Blue Devils to just three hits. The Chargers, however, mustered only one hit.
The game’s only runs came on a two-run homer by Walla Walla’s Raquelle Justice in the first inning. Justice hit a deep fly ball that Marysville Getchell’s left fielder temporarily appeared to catch before running into the temporary fence. As she fell over the netting, the ball popped free and landed on the other side.
The Chargers threatened in the top of the seventh, putting runners on first and second with two outs. But Walla Walla pitcher Tallulah Sickels came through with a game-ending strikeout to seal the victory for the Blue Devils, who later advanced to the state semifinals.
Marysville Getchell fell to the consolation bracket, where it was eliminated from the tournament with a 13-11 loss to ninth-seeded Cascade in an all-Wesco clash.
Cascade bounces back, rallies for 1st state victories
Making its second state appearance in program history and its first since 2009, ninth-seeded Cascade opened with a 12-4 loss to eighth-seeded Yelm in the round of 16.
But the Bruins bounced back, earning a pair of consolation-bracket wins for their first-ever state tournament victories.
In its first consolation game, Cascade (19-7) rallied from a five-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh to beat 16th-seeded Marysville Getchell 13-11 in an all-Wesco affair.
The Bruins hit three homers during their seventh-inning comeback — a three-run shot by Ashlyee Block, a solo homer by Katelyn Pryor and a walkoff three-run blast by Tessa Hahn.
Cascade continued its late-game magic later in the evening, when it rallied for an 8-7 win over sixth-seeded Snohomish in another all-Wesco consolation matchup. The Bruins came from behind with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, winning on a walkoff single by Alexa Hamshaw.
Cascade advanced to face 13th-seeded Monroe at 10 a.m. Saturday in another all-Wesco consolation game. The winner of that contest will play at noon for a spot in the third/fourth-place game, which is at 2:30 p.m.
Monroe rebounds, advances in consolation bracket
Megan Boswell, Emma Nagy and Scarlett Nagy each homered to lead 13th-seeded Monroe to a 9-2 win over 20th-seeded Heritage in a play-in round game.
However, the Bearcats then fell 6-3 to fourth-seeded Peninsula in the round of 16. The Seahawks homered five times in the game.
But Monroe (19-7) responded with a pair of emphatic consolation-bracket victories. The Bearcats blanked 12th-seeded Ballard 11-0 and then beat 10th-seeded Arlington 12-2 in an all-Wesco affair.
Monroe advanced to face ninth-seeded Cascade in another all-Wesco consolation matchup at 10 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that game will play at noon for a spot in the third/fourth-place game, which is at 2:30 p.m.