An awkwardly hit blooper and the vagaries of late spring, Western Washington weather.
Such were the instruments of fate working well against Sequim High's fastpitch team during one of the more unusual West Central District tournaments in recent memory.
When a simple postponement of opening round games turned into days of downpours and unplayed games at Tacoma's Sprinker Recreation Center the weekend of May 21-23, it turned the district's semifinal games into championship matches.
Sequim's season with an eight-inning, 3-2 decision on May 25 that saw the winning run scored on a bloop single between home and first base that died in the mud.
District tournament director Marc Blau called off all play that afternoon, declaring the fields unplayable and the tournament finished.
Steilacoom advanced to the state 2A tournament, as did North Mason after an 8-0 win against Fife in the other semifinal.
Sequim coach Mel Hendrickson wasn't pleased with the decision to cut short his team's chances at a state berth.
"The sad part is, truthfully, they left one of the top 10 teams in the state out," he said.
Wolves open with win vs. Cruisers
Sequim looked to have plenty of momentum heading into the district's double-elimination bracket. Despite seeing their game postponed three days, the restless Wolves pounded Eatonville on May 24 for 10 runs and 17 hits in six innings, getting three hits each from three each from Demiree Briones, Cindy Miller and Maddy Zbaraschuk. Briones, Sequim's starter, held the Cruisers to just one hit in those six innings.
A pitcher's duel
The next day, Steilacoom, the Nisqually League champs, took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Sequim responded in the second inning when Briones tripled and Chelsea Winfield hit a sacrifice fly.
Two innings later, Steilacoom scratched another run across the plate, but in the fifth Sequim's Cindy Miller ripped a drive through a drawn-in Sentinel squad into right-center field, racing around the bases for a home run and 2-2 tie.
The squads battled
through scoreless inning after scoreless inning, with Briones and Steilacoom's Beth Kassuhn keeping their opposition at bay.
In the top of the eighth, with the rain coming down so hard umpires were drying off the ball between pitches, Sequim's Winfield hit a deep drive that a Steilacoom outfielder raced back and caught - despite falling to her back. The out stranded two Sequim runners Hendrickson said would have scored easily.
In the bottom of the inning, Steilacoom put a runner on third base before a squib hit landed in the mud between home plate and first base. With a dry infield, Hendrickson said, the ball rolls foul and the Wolves have a shot at getting out of the jam.
But the Steilacoom runner on third base came in to score for a 3-2 Sentinel win.
"It was a great ball game," Hendrickson said.
At the state 2A tournament in Selah May 28-29, North Mason went 3-2 and finished in a tie for fifth place while Steilacoom went 2-2 and tied for seventh.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.