Late rally lifts Thunderbirds

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:59am

SHORELINE — For a minute it looked like they weren’t going to throw to Jamie Spenard.

With two outs, a runner on first and his team clinging to a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, Meadowdale softball coach Larry Culver called time and huddled with his players inside the pitcher’s circle.

But instead of pitching around Spenard, Culver told his freshman pitcher and catcher to play it safe and not toss the Shorewood slugger any strikes.

Turns out they underestimated Spenard’s strike zone.

The all-league senior catcher turned on the first pitch she saw and blasted the inside riser to deep left-center field for a double that scored Shannon Sullivan, who led off the inning with a single to left.

Angela DuBois then legged out an infield single when Meadowdale’s shortstop bobbled the ball and Spenard advanced to third.

Brianna Wartman followed with a bloop single just over the first baseman’s reach to score Spenard, clinching a 4-3 comeback win over the Mavericks Monday at Shorewood High School.

The Thunderbirds improved to 6-2 in one-run affairs this season and raised their Western Conference 4A South Division record back to .500.

“A lot of our games have been one-run games,” Sullivan said. “We deserved that one.”

Wartman and Spenard were both 3-for-4 with two doubles apiece and Jennifer Kristjansson and Brianna DeVine both went 2-for-3 for the T-birds (6-6 league, 8-6 overall).

Spenard felt jammed a bit on the pitch she connected on in the seventh, but got enough of the ball to launch it well over the center fielder.

“It was on my hands,” Spenard said. “That’s why I got under it a bit. I was able to get some (power) on it. Luckily, it flew.”

After the fact, Culver chided himself for not issuing Spenard a walk.

“In hindsight, we should have put her on,” he said. “It’s easy to say that now.”

In the third inning, Spenard belted a 3-0 offering to left for an RBI-double to give Shorewood a 2-0 lead. Even when she’s that far ahead in the count, Spenard has clearance to swing away.

“Coach gave me the green light,” Spenard said. “She pitched it right in on me.”

Wartman doubled to left and scored on a throwing error with two outs in the second inning to break a scoreless tie.

Looking for just their second win of the season, the Mavericks charged ahead with a three-run fourth. Rachel Myhre led off the inning with a double to right-center, Christi Mallory walked and two batters later an error allowed Myhre to score.

Two more runs scored on Ashley Unger’s single to right, but Shorewood pitcher Heidi Heric retired the next 11 batters in order to seal the win.

With two weeks left in the regular season, the T-birds are approaching full strength. While Sullivan returned to action last week — putting off potential season-ending surgery — after missing several games due to a dislocated kneecap, Spenard continues to recover from a separated shoulder.

“As we’ve been healing, our defense has been picking up,” Spenard said. “It’s great to see it pay off in games like this.”

Shorewood, Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds-Woodway are all contending for the division’s fourth and final 4A postseason berth.

“We can’t really afford too many mistakes right now,” Spenard said. “We have to beat the hard teams, we have to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat. We’ve got to play hard all the way to the end.”

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