Cascade’s Mia Walker pitches during the 3A state softball tournament game against Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cascade’s Mia Walker pitches during the 3A state softball tournament game against Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

LACEY — Jaidyn Wilson and Sophia Tripp picked the perfect time to start drilling home runs over the fence.

The Cascade High School seniors homered just once all season long. But Wilson and Tripp turned it up a notch just when the Bruins softball team needed it most, combining for a trio of homers as Cascade mounted a sixth-inning comeback and escaped with an 8-7 win over Gig Harbor in a Class 3A state tournament opening-round, loser-out tilt at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.

With the win, 17th-seeded Cascade (14-11) advanced and will play in a round-of-16 bout against No. 1 seed University at 11 a.m. Friday at the same site. The Tides ended their season 14-10 overall.

“I’m so proud of this team,” Bruins head coach Mike Perrine said. “Man, they just fight and fight and fight. It’s not just this year, its on a program level at this point. We’ve come from behind in so many games and made it to state three years in a row. Three straight years, they just keep doing it.”

Of Cascade’s three long bombs, none was more crucial than Wilson’s grand slam in the top of the sixth. After a brutal fifth-inning push from the Tides that saw them claim a 6-3 lead, the Bruins’ catcher wasn’t thinking about aiming deep, she was just trying to keep her team alive another day.

“I actually thought I was going to be out,” Wilson said. “It was really high in the air, so I was thinking it was probably over on that one. But, I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t swinging for the fences or anything, I was just trying get some teammates in and score some runs.”

The four-run at-bat put Cascade in front 8-6, and Wilson ended her day with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, adding five RBI. Tripp also went 3-for-4, offering a two-run shot in the top of the third.

After Wilson punched in a solo homer for the game’s first score, Tripp’s home run gave the Bruins a 3-0 advantage heading into the fourth frame. In the fifth, Gig Harbor temporarily took control.

The Tides supplied a homer and three triples in the bottom of the fifth, knocking Cascade off balance heading into the final stages of the contest. Cascade freshman ace Mia Walker helped the Bruins keep the lid on things the rest of the way.

Walker pitched a complete game, striking out five with two walks, allowing two earned runs.

“Mia does such a great job pitching,” Perrine said. “She’s at her best when she trusts her defense. Just settling her down and her back hitting her spots. The defense making plays helped her and built trust for her to actually go out there and hit her spots. … Timing was everything.”

After beginning the year 7-10, the Bruins now look forward to an upset bid against the top-ranked Titans (22-1), who dropped their first loss of the year last week against Mt. Spokane.

“It feels great,” Wilson said. “Especially with it being my senior year. … It’s extra special to get to come back and make a mark for Cascade.”

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