Fastpitch playoffs at home today (Wednesday)

"The big gameWhat: Fastpitch playoffsWhen: Today, May 17, 4:30 p.m., South Whidbey High SchoolWho: Falcon vs. Steilacoom.At stake: Winner advances to district, loser out.South Whidbey sports fans can show up this afternoon to watch the team that's made the most historic turnaround since Napoleon's army left Russia.The Falcon fastpitch team is in the playoffs, hosting Steilacoom in a game that starts at 4:30 p.m. While Napoleon's turnaround was humiliating, South Whidbey's was triumphant. The Falcons had lost in the neighborhood of 40 consecutive games before the beginning of the 2000 season. But the new year, the new century, the new millennium, the new league, and two new freshman pitchers made all the difference.After a hectic rain-plagued end of the regular season last week, the Falcons finished with a 11-5 record in the North Cascades Conference and 13-7 overall. That's much better, understated coach Renee Christian Tuesday morning. The girls met their goals. Their first goal was simply to win a game, and they did that in their third game of the season at Granite Falls. Their next goal was more ambitious: to make the playoffs. They achieved that one, too.This afternoon's contest is crucial. South Whidbey, the number three team in its league, plays Steilacoom, the number six team in its league. The winner will advance to the district tournament Saturday near Tacoma. The loser's season is over.It's a do-or-die game, said Christian. Steilacoom advanced to what is called the bi-district crossover game by beating Port Townsend 8-4.The Falcons finalized their conference placement in a double-header Monday at Mount Baker.In the opening game South Whidbey played Mount Baker, each with a 10-4 records, for second place in the conference. Mount Baker won 2-1. It was a real nailbiter, said Christian.Val Mock pitched for South Whidbey, giving up only 5 hits while striking out 5. The Falcons grouped 4 singles to take a 1-0 lead in the sixth, but lost it in the seventh on a misplayed little blooper, as Christian described it. Jenny Murphy led the eight-hit Falcon offense with 4 hits.The loss meant South Whidbey had to play another game to hang on to third place. The opponent was Blaine, which suffered a 20-2 defeat at the hands of the Falcons.Ashley Lopez, the other outstanding Falcon freshman thrower, started but left after her team built up a safe 19-2 lead. Senior Elisha Ishii entered to pitch the final three innings. She struck out 3 and gave up only 3 hits.Jenny Murphy batted only twice but got hits both time, extending her personal streak to hits in 10 straight at-bats -- an amazing feat. Collecting doubles in the blowout were Murphy, Keasha Campbell, Mock and Melissa Schultz.The Falcons finally got in a conference game last Thursday against Sultan that was originally scheduled for May 3. The Turks had no chance, losing 21-2. The 18-hit South Whidbey onslaught was led by Marianna Norby who drove in 5 runs, three on a bases loaded triple, and Jenny Murphy, who was 4-for-4.If the Falcons win today's game, they play the district tournament Saturday in Spanaway in a double-elimination, 16-team affair settled in a single, long day of play. Games start at 11 a.m. with the finals at 5 p.m.Christian is hopeful if the Falcons get that far. Most teams have one dominant pitcher but we have two (Mock and Lopez), she said. That should help with as many as four games to play in a day."

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