EVERETT — For its first two Class 3A District 1 Tournament games, the Everett softball team’s offense just couldn’t seem to come through until its back was against the wall in the final inning.
Thursday was a bit different.
Junior Kendall Tebatebai delivered a clutch two-run, two-out double in the bottom of the fifth inning, senior Jackie Rookaird delivered a stellar performance on the mound and the Seagulls are headed to the state tournament for the fourth time in the past five seasons after a 3-1 win over Marysville Getchell in a winner-to-state, loser-out clash at Phil Johnson Ballfields.
“I’m so excited,” Rookaird said. “I really wanted the chance to go and compete for a state title, and I have a nice group of girls (to do it with). This was a team effort. I can’t wait for the competition. I can’t wait for the environment. I just can’t wait.”
Everett struck first when Annie Fowler came home on a bases-loaded wild pitch with two outs in the third inning. The Chargers avoided further damage when Tebatebai hit a weak pop-up in front of the home plate that catcher Shannon Patton made a great diving play on to end the inning.
Getchell had a chance to get the run back in the top of the fourth after putting runners on first and second with no outs, but couldn’t score.
The Seagulls put runners on first and second to start the bottom of the fifth, and Chargers pitcher Brionna Palm nearly got through the inning unharmed, striking out the No. 3 hitter Rookaird and No. 4 hitter Kassidy Millar. That’s when Tebatebai struck with the game’s biggest hit.
“I think that was actually set up by her previous at-bat where she had a nine, 10, 11-pitch at-bat,” Everett coach Mike Millar said. “… She saw the ball better and better and better. That’s why it’s big for those hitters to work the count and see some pitches.”
Getchell cut the lead to 3-1 when senior Skyleigh Morrison laced a two-out, run-scoring single up the middle, but that’s all the Chargers could muster in the final frame.
Rookaird, an Alabama A&M University signee, struck out nine in a complete game while allowing an earned run, three hits and four walks.
“She’s a bulldog. That’s what she is,” Millar said. “She battles. I have a lot of respect for her. The kid has some grit, and she goes right after hitters with a little bit of a swagger.
“That motivates her and it’s what makes her who she is.”
Tebatebai finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI.
The loss ended the season for Marysville Getchell (16-7), which fell one win shy of its first state-tournament trip.
Everett (18-5) advanced to the third-place matchup with Edmonds-Woodway, where it won 8-0 in five innings in a rain-shortened game.
“I’m pumped to see how we do in state,” Rookaird said, “because I believe if we perform to our very best ability we can take it all.”