Loss to Riders drops Wolves to fourth seed

Port Angeles and Sequim have such a rivalry that the two softball teams even had a dance off in their dugouts before their game at Dry Creek on May 12.

After they were done dancing to “YMCA,” the Roughriders took care of business on a sun-kissed field, jumping on Sequim for five runs in the first three innings en route to an 8-1 win.

The Riders shined in all aspects of the game, as Cheyenne Zimmer and Heidi Leitz combined to allow just five hits. Zimmer struck out 10 in six-plus innings, getting three-up, three-down in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings.

The Riders didn’t get a lot of hits against Sequim’s Lainey Vig, but their hits were timely. In fact, it was a clean game all-around as the Wolves made just two errors.

The win was a bit of payback for Sequim’s 7-6 victory over the Riders earlier this season. More importantly, Port Angeles finished tied for second place in the ultra-competitive Olympic League with a record of 10-4 (15-4 overall) while Sequim finished fourth at 9-5 (9-7 overall).

Both teams will be headed to the bi-district tournament next week.

“We didn’t hit the ball very well today,” Sequim coach Mike McFarlen said.

“I think we jumped on them early hitting wise,” said Zimmer. “We were really late to the game last time we played Sequim. Our energy was low.”

“They played well today. We played better,” Zimmer said.

“We went into this game wanting to leave it all on the field,” said Abby Kimball, who crushed a massive two-run home run.

“I think our new positions players are killing it this year,” said senior Lily Halberg, referring to Kimball and second baseman Kennedy Rognlien, who had two hits on the day.

Coach Morgan Worthington said the defense played great but that Zimmer and Leitz didn’t force the defense to make plays with their solid pitching.

Worthington agreed that the Riders lacked energy the first time they played Sequim. They were fired up for this game and didn’t let the heat of the day (It was 77 degrees at game time) affect them.

“No way we were going to allow them to come onto our home field and go home with anything but a loss,” Worthington said.

How good was the Olympic League this year?

Five of the top 33 teams in the state are from the Olympic League: Undefeated league champion North Kitsap (14-0, 17-0) is the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Ratings Percentage Index. Port Angeles, which gave the Vikings a game twice this year but couldn’t quite get past North Kitsap, is ranked No. 9. Olympic at 10-4 is No. 21 and Sequim is No. 25. Kingston, at 7-7 ,is No. 33.

“Our district is super tough,” McFarlen said. “There aren’t going to be any gimmies [at the district tournament].”

Sequim got off to a good start with a lead-off double by Hannah Bates to the opposite field. She came around to third on a groundout but Zimmer was able to slam the door shut the rest of the inning.

The Riders meanwhile, got the clutch hit in the bottom of the first. After singles by Halberg and Kimball, Rognlien came through with a two-run single to make it 2-0.

Natalie Robinson and Heidi Leitz had RBI singles in the bottom of the third and Robinson came in to score on a wild pitch to make it 5-0.

Both Sequim pitcher Lainey Vig and Zimmer racked up a bunch of three-up, three-down innings (Zimmer four and Vig two), but in the fifth, Kimball went down low on a pitch below her knees and crushed it 15 feet beyond the fence for a two-run home run. She tacked on an RBI sac fly in the sixth inning.

The Wolves got their run on a solo home run by Taylee Rome over the center field fence. After Zimmer allowed another hard hit, Leitz came in and slammed the door in the seventh to end the game.

Rognlien finished with two hits, while Sequim Mikkiah Green had two hits.

Sequim, which has a few games to make up in its schedule because of rainouts, played in a tournament Saturday before preparing for the district tournament.

The Wolves dropped a 4-3 game at Olympic on May 9.

Sequim went into the sixth up 3-2, but the Trojans were able to score the tying and go-ahead runs on a pair of doubles and a single.

Vig took the loss, going the full six innings; she allowed eight hits and four runs while striking out five.

Bates was 2-for-4 for the Wolves with two runs scored and three stolen bases. Mia Pozernick was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Jordan Kidd was 2-for-3.

Rome had a double and an RBI, while Vig had a hit and an RBI.

The postseason kicks off with the West Central Bi-District tournament, scheduled for May 19-20 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. The top six teams in the 16-team tourney advance to the state 2A tournament (May 25-27 at Carlon Park, Selah).