It’s a safe bet that when two of the state’s small-school softball powers get together for a pre-district tune-up match, one could expect a close, competitive ballgame.
Nobody saw this coming.
The Montesano Bulldogs, the top-ranked team in the WIAA Class 1A, opened up a 12-run lead over 2B power Pe Ell-Willapa Valley yet had to hold on for dear life as the Titans came storming back Monday, May 6, before Monte eventually escaped with a 13-12 victory.
PWV (16-3 overall, 12-0 Pacific 2B) took the early 1-0 lead after Katelyn McGough led off the game with a home run, her sixth of the season.
But Montesano (15-3, 7-1 Evergreen 1A) responded by loading the bases against PWV starter Kamryn Adkins with three straight singles in the bottom half of the inning. Monte’s Katie Granstrom cracked the goose egg by scoring on a passed ball and the Bulldogs took the lead when Matti Ekerson and Landree Dohrmann scored on an error. Payton Kersker drove Emma Jensen in with a ground out to give Monte the 4-1 lead after one inning of play.
Two innings later, Monte appeared to put the game away by scoring nine runs in the top of the third inning. Kersker, Jessica Stanfield, Ekerson and starting pitcher Lindsay Pace all recorded run-scoring singles for Montesano in an inning that included three runs scoring on two errors in a single play.
“Our defense fell apart that inning. It was all about our defense,” PWV head coach Ken Olson said. “(Monte) was putting the ball in play and we have to make plays and we didn’t. … Our defense just wasn’t there.”
“We know (PWV) is really good and our mentality was to keep putting runs on the board because at any time they can come back on us. They’re a good team,” Montesano starting pitcher Lindsay Pace said.
After PWV scored a run in the fourth to make it a 13-2 game, the Titans, faced with suffering a rare mercy-rule loss, got back into the game with its bats.
Titans third baseman Britney Patrick got things started with a two-run home run over the left field fence that kicked off a 10-run rally. After a Kam Adkins RBI single later in the inning trimmed Monte’s lead to 13-9, Patrick strode to the plate and smacked Pace’s 2-0 pitch for a double that scored Katie and Kam Adkins and put PWV within striking distance at 13-11.
Olivia Matlock followed with an RBI double that scored Patrick and cut the deficit to 13-12.
“You get a little adrenalin going and the kids play better and you start to feel it,” Olson said. “We have to believe in ourselves and have confidence even in a bad inning. The key to this game for us was to come back and score 10 runs on the No. 1 team in the state in 1A.”
But in a game that contained 14 unearned runs, both pitchers settled in and the miscues that had plagued both defenses earlier in the game vanished.
Matlock, who relieved Adkins in the third inning, held Monte scoreless the rest of the way, allowing no runs and no hits over the final three innings.
Pace, who went the distance for Monte, also held her opponent scoreless over the final frames after the disastrous fifth inning.
PWV threatened in the top of the sixth when McGough stepped to the plate with two on and two out. The sophomore outfielder hit a sharp line drive that was headed for the left-field fence.
But Ekerson had other ideas. Monte’s left fielder quickly adjusted and leaped to snare McGough’s liner and end the threat.
“The more momentum we have, the better we’ve done,” Lindsay Pace said. “So Matti making that big play really changed the game for us.”
Like many of those in attendance, Montesano head coach Pat Pace tried to make sense of what he saw on Monday.
“Both teams — state caliber teams — it should never get out of hand like this,” Pace quipped. “The experience is, ‘What did we learn from our mistakes?’ That is, we have to stop the bleeding before it gets out of hand like it did. … I’m hoping its a turning point for both teams. They had their bad inning. We had our bad inning and I’m hoping we both learn from this and we don’t see anything like this again unless we’re on the positive side.”
After defeating the No. 3 team in the 2B section, Monte now sets its sights on the state’s top-ranked 2B team, Adna, as the Bulldogs will take on the Pirates at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
PWV has its final district tune-up match against the state’s No.2 1A team, the Elma Eagles, at 4 p.m. on Thursday in Menlo.
Adna 11, Montesano 8
A 10-run inning bit the Bulldogs for the second game in a row as Montesano fell to Adna 11-8 in a non-league contest on Friday at Adna High School.
In its second to last tune-up game ahead of the district playoffs, Monte led 4-0 after one inning and 8-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
But the Bulldogs saw their comfortable lead evaporate as Adna (19-1), the state’s top-ranked team in Class 2B, opened the inning with four consecutive walks against Monte starter Lindsay Pace.
Monte (15-3) led 8-3 with two outs in the inning, but five consecutive hits — four of them for extra bases — gave the Pirates a 10-8 lead. Adna’s Olivia Rodriguez and Karlee VonMoos each hit two-run home runs in the inning.
Monte, which was able to hold on to its lead after giving up 10 runs in the fifth inning of Monday’s one-run victory over PWV, never recovered as Adna starter Haley Rainey settled in and held the Bulldogs scoreless over the final three innings.
Pace and Janessa Otterstetter collected two hits apiece in the game. Monte had seven hits, all singles.
Elma 5, PWV 3
Down 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Elma used some timely hitting and aggressive base running to score three runs and secure victory the victory over Pe Ell-Willapa Valley in Menlo on Thursday.
The Eagles (18-1, 7-1 Evergreen 1A) started their game-winning rally with a dropped third strike, which set the table for Jalyn Whipple, who drove in the tying run with a double.
Whipple eventually scored on an infield error and Kali Rambo, who also reached on error, stole a base and came across to score on error.
Rambo said her team remained confident though they were down late in the game.
“We’re very confident right now and we know that everyone is going to make a play when it matters even if you’re having a bad game,” she said.