LAKE STEVENS — The Glacier Peak softball team’s bats took a while to warm up.
But once they did, the floodgates burst open.
And now, after spending the past two seasons in the shadow of Wesco 4A powers such as Lake Stevens, the Grizzlies are all alone atop the conference standings.
Kendall Curtis hit a pair of two-run doubles as Glacier Peak checked off another milestone in its breakthrough start to the season, rallying for a 6-3 road win over Lake Stevens in Tuesday afternoon’s battle for first place in Wesco 4A.
It was the Grizzlies’ first victory over the Vikings in seven tries since moving up to Wesco 4A in 2017.
“This was an amazing win for our girls,” Glacier Peak coach Stefanie Celix said. “We’ve been working and working for this for several years, and now we’ve accomplished one of the things we haven’t been able to do before.”
Over the previous two seasons, the Grizzlies went a combined 20-0 against the bottom four teams in Wesco 4A, but just 1-15 against the top tier of Jackson, Lake Stevens and Monroe.
Glacier Peak (9-2 overall, 5-0 Wesco 4A) has flipped the script in a major way this spring, beating all three of the league’s recent powers during its unbeaten start in conference play.
The Grizzlies’ breakthrough began two weeks ago, when Ashley Jacobson hit a walk-off home run to give Glacier Peak a 2-1 win over defending Class 4A state champion Jackson.
It continued last week, when the heavy-hitting Grizzlies rolled to a 23-1 victory over reigning 4A state runner-up Monroe.
Glacier Peak then accomplished its latest milestone in Tuesday’s showdown of Wesco 4A unbeatens, rallying past a Lake Stevens program that’s earned at least a share of the past two conference titles.
The victory gave the Grizzlies sole possession of first place atop the Wesco 4A standings near the midway point of league play.
“To accomplish these goals is important for my girls, because they see that they’re growing,” Celix said. “All these girls have been battling since we came into 4A … and they get to see the rewards of their hard work that they put in every single day.”
Through the first five innings of Tuesday’s wind-chilled contest, Glacier Peak managed only one hit off Lake Stevens pitcher Kaylie Hoskins. The senior lefty was cruising, having struck out 10 batters and allowed just two base-runners.
But the Grizzlies finally broke through, erasing a 2-0 deficit by exploding for four runs in the top of the sixth.
“The girls didn’t give up on themselves,” Celix said. “They started to read the pitches, and they made the contact that they know they can make.”
Ashley Schmer began Glacier Peak’s sixth-inning rally with an infield hit, and Meleah Menchaca lofted a fly ball to shallow center field that fell in for a single. Harlee Carpenter followed with a run-scoring base hit to right field, trimming Lake Stevens’ lead to 2-1.
Curtis, the ensuing batter, then scorched a two-run double into the left-center field gap to give the Grizzlies a 3-2 advantage. Two batters later, Haley Winckler drove in Curtis with a groundball single up the middle to make it 4-2.
“I think it honestly just clicked,” Curtis said of her team’s four-run sixth inning. “We started to have confidence in ourselves. We were getting down the first couple innings, but once we started to adjust, we knew that we could do it.”
Curtis connected for another two-run double in the seventh, launching a hard-hit ball off the right-center field fence to give Glacier Peak a 6-2 cushion. The University of Montana-bound senior finished 3-for-4 and drove in four runs.
“Those were hard, solid hits in the gaps — full contact,” Celix said. “And she did it at critical points. You couldn’t ask for a better hitter right there.”
Sophomore pitcher Makayla Miller picked up the win for Glacier Peak after shaking off a two-run first inning and allowing only one run the rest of the way. With help from her defense, she escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth to keep the Grizzlies within two runs.
“Makayla pitched her game from start to finish,” Celix said. “Makayla stayed strong in who she is as a pitcher and had confidence in herself. … She just pushed through, and she knew that her defense was behind her.”
Hoskins pitched a complete game for Lake Stevens (9-2, 5-1), finishing with 13 strikeouts. Emma Fortney, Kylie Hubby and Cory Bardue each had two hits for the Vikings.
“The sixth inning was very tough,” said Lake Stevens coach Sarah Hirsch, whose team was coming off a 4-1 win over Jackson on Monday. “You take away the infield base hit and the misplayed pop fly, and (Glacier Peak might not) score any of those runs. … But they came out and hit the ball well today.”