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Wolves survive 9-inning affair for state berth
Good thing Sequim's fastpitch squad has two good pitchers and a tough defense, too.
Sequim survived a pair of elimination games last weekend at the West Central District tournament in Tacoma, earning the district's No. 3 seed to the class 2A tournament that starts Friday.
The Wolves (15-8) open at noon against Colville (12-2 in Great Northern League, 19-3 overall) at Carlon Park in Selah.
After a 2-1 win Friday night against Fife to stay alive, Sequim fell 2-1 to North Mason on Saturday in a district semifinal, setting up a do-or-die contest with league rival Klahowya.
Sequim freshman Dem-iree Briones and Klahowya senior Kazandra Holliday dueled to a scoreless tie until the bottom of the eighth, when Maddy Zbaraschuk drilled a Holliday pitch into center to score Chelsie Winfield for the win.
"I'm surprised that coach even pitched to (Maddy)," coach Mel Hendrickson said. "Maddy had been hitting the ball hard the whole game. It was just a matter of time."
Hendrickson had his rookie pitcher, Briones, use her good fastball to jam the Eagles' big hitters.
"We were able to shut them down," Hendrickson said.
The Wolves also got great defense in the seventh inning when outfielder Beverly Buck snagged a crucial fly ball with Klahowya runners on second and third.
On Friday night, Sequim won by the slimmest of margins as well. After Fife scored early, the Wolves got a home run from infielder Lea Hopson to tie it in the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Trojans loaded the bases against Winfield, Sequim's starter, and Briones came in to quell the rally. She got the first batter to tap back to her and start a home-to-first double play and got the third out in the next at bat to preserve the tie.
"That was huge, especially for a freshman," Hendrickson said.
The score remained 1-1 until the top of the seventh inning when Buck reached first, advanced to third base on a pair of passed balls and scored on Sarah Donahue's hit.
Briones worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh to help the Wolves advance to the district double-elimination bracket.
Each team had five hits.
"Their pitcher threw well - it was a typical (playoff) fastpitch game," Hendrickson said.
The Wolves had a chance to secure a state berth against North Mason, their Olympic League nemesis but came up short. The Bulldogs took advantage of a couple of Wolves' errors to score a run in the second inning and one in the fourth.
But Sequim was able to come back and beat Klahowya, who had lost to Steilacoom in the other semifinal. Steilacoom went on to win the district title.
Hendrickson used Winfield to pitch the entire North Mason contest and Briones later that day, a two-pitcher advantage Sequim has against the majority of fastpitch teams that rely on one starter.
"It was nice having two good pitchers - it helped us that second day (at districts)," he said.
Sequim advanced to the state tourney in 2007 where, as a No. 3 seed, they knocked off Archbishop Murphy and W.F. West before losing to - who else? - North Mason in the semifinals.
This year? With wins in their first two games, the Wolves and Bulldogs can meet again in the state semifinals.
Hendrickson said he's confident in his team's chances to pick up a victory or two at the state tourney.
"I wasn't too sure until districts, in those tight contests," he said. "For a young team, I thought we held together pretty well."