After seeing its streak of six consecutive state-tournament appearances end last year, the Meadowdale softball team entered this season on a mission to make it back to Lacey.
The Mavericks certainly have played like a state-caliber team thus far.
Meadowdale entered Monday as the only remaining unbeaten in Wesco 3A/2A play, sitting atop the 15-team league with an unblemished 8-0 conference record.
“It goes back to last year when they missed out on making it to state by one game,” Mavericks coach Dennis Hopkins said of his team’s strong start. “They came in this year wanting to get back to state after not being there last year. And so the whole deal is on them just to focus on every game (like) a championship game.”
Meadowdale started the season 2-4 after a hip injury left ace pitcher Kate Houghton sidelined for most of the non-league slate. But she returned in time for conference play, and the Mavericks haven’t lost since.
Meadowdale is in the driver’s seat of the Wesco 3A/2A title race, having already beaten three of its biggest challengers. Several weeks back, the Mavericks defeated perennial powers Snohomish, Marysville Pilchuck and Everett in consecutive games.
Everett and Snohomish, who square off Wednesday, trail Meadowdale with one loss apiece in Wesco 3A/2A play. Marysville Getchell and Marysville Pilchuck each have two conference losses.
Of the Mavericks’ six remaining league opponents, Marysville Getchell is the only team that entered this week with a winning conference record. But Hopkins said his team can’t afford to overlook any opponent.
“Wesco is the toughest league in the state, I think,” he said. “… When you’re on the top of the heap, everybody wants (to beat) you, and you can’t take any team for granted.”
Heading into the closing stretch of conference play, here’s a look at the rest of the local softball league-title races:
In Wesco 4A, it’s a three-team battle for the crown.
Glacier Peak and Lake Stevens entered Monday tied atop the conference standings with 9-1 league records. Only one game behind was defending Class 4A state champion Jackson, sitting in third place at 8-2.
Lake Stevens faces Jackson on Friday and closes the regular season against Glacier Peak next Tuesday in a pair of games with massive conference-title implications.
The race for the No. 2 seed in Wesco 4A also is significant, as the league’s top two seeds receive first-round byes in the 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament.
Lakewood entered the week at second place in the Northwest Conference with a 7-1 league record, trailing first-place Anacortes by a half-game. The Cougars fell to Anacortes 3-2 last Thursday in a showdown of conference unbeatens.
Right behind Lakewood in the NWC standings is a trio of teams that entered Monday with two league losses apiece: Lynden, Sehome and Sedro-Woolley.
Granite Falls entered the week atop the North Sound Conference standings with a 7-1 league record. Coupeville was in second place at 5-2, followed by third-place Cedar Park Christian at 5-3.