MONROE — For the past two seasons, regular-season success in Wesco 4A hasn’t resulted in state appearances for Lake Stevens softball.
In 2019, the Vikings would not be denied.
Behind a gem from senior Kaylie Hoskins in the circle, the Vikings blanked Bothell, 3-0, on Friday in a Wes-King Bi-District Tournament loser-out, winner-to-state matchup at Monroe High School.
“I knew today when I showed up to the field and they were giddy and goofy and silly, I told myself, ‘We got this,’” Lake Stevens head coach Sarah Hirsch said. “The last couple of days haven’t been as goofy and giddy as it usually is. … When they feel great, they play great.”
Lake Stevens returned to the state tournament for the first time since 2014.
“It is amazing,” Hoskins said. “We’ve all been waiting, we’ve been so close every year and to finally get there is so amazing. It’s so fun.”
And Hoskins is a big reason why the Vikings are back in the state tournament. She struck out 15 and didn’t issue a walk in the four-hit shutout.
“She has a tendency to be wild at times and she just threw strikes,” Bothell head coach Fred Miller said. “She stayed up in the zone and she was just super tough. We told our kids to stay off that up pitch and it’s so hard because it’s such a tough pitch. She’s just a great pitcher.”
Why was Hoskins able to find her groove on Friday?
It may have to do with a tweaked pregame routine.
The senior hurler doesn’t typically throw at all the day before games, according to Hoskins. But on Thursday she threw some long toss and a “feel good” bullpen, in which she stopped throwing a certain pitch when she felt satisfied with it.
“She came out pretty fresh today,” Hirsch said.
Hoskins got just enough run support, and it came early, which allowed Hoskins to settle in.
Alexa Psaradelis roped a triple to plate Rachael Eichenberger to put Lake Stevens up 1-0 in the first.
The Vikings tacked on two more runs in the sixth, as Psaradelis clubbed a home run to right field to lead off the frame and Avery Henderson added a run-scoring single.
Those insurance runs helped calm Hoskins’ nerves as she trotted to the circle for the seventh, she said.
“Once we got those two in the sixth, I felt really comfortable and no matter what, we could stay up,” Hoskins said. “It was like a breath of fresh air. It was so nice.”
Bothell’s Brooke Davis lined a one-out single to center in the seventh, but Hoskins induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
Psaradelis went 2-for-3 with two RBI to lead the Vikings offensively.
The Vikings have been a bit snake-bitten the past two seasons, falling in loser-out, winner-to-state games despite losing just two Wesco 4A conference games and winning at least a share of the regular-season title over that stretch.
“To get over the hump feels amazing,” Hirsch said.
Follow Josh Horton on twitter, @JoshHortonEDH.