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Falcons win opener over Steilacoom as playoffs continue today

"Lopez honoredSouth Whidbey pitcher Ashley Lopez was named first team all-conference pitcher this week by a vote of the North Cascades Conference coaches. South Whidbey finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, while Lopez' individual pitching record for the year was 9 and 3. Teammate Mary Murphy was named to the second team in the coaches' vote.The playoffs continue today for the South Whidbey fastpitch team which is slated for two games in Sedro-Woolley.The Falcons got off to a fast post-season start Tuesday in a must-win opening playoff game against Steilacoom.Pitcher Ashley Lopez, urged on by the home crowd, dominated the visitors, giving up only 1 hit in the 7-1 victory. South Whidbey entered the game as the North Cascades Conference third place finisher, thanks to winning a coin flip on Friday that put Lynden Christian at number four. Other league teams advancing to the playoffs were number 1 Nooksack Valley, number 2 Lakewood, number 5 Mount Baker and number 6 Granite Falls.Lopez struck out 6 during Tuesday's game and Steilacoom's bats were virtually silenced. The visitors' only run came on a passed ball that occurred during a downpour.She was dominant until the rain allowed the passed ball, said coach Renee Christian, describing the conditions as miserable. The pitchers slid around the muddy pitching rubber and had to frequently towel dry the ball.The rain didn't affect South Whidbey's offense. Shannon Murphy went 1 for 2 with 2 RBI, Julie Robinson 2 for 4 with a double, Bronwyn Russell 3 for 4, and Shannon Brown 2 for 3 with 2 RBI. The Falcons scored 3 in the second inning, 2 more in the 5th and the last 2 in the final frame.Coach Christian was pleased with her team's response to the playoff situation. Last year was the Falcons' first post-season appearance and they exited the playoffs quickly. But any nervousness Tuesday didn't show as the Falcons took control early. We would have been done, it was do-or-die, Christian said.The Falcons are now competing in a tri-district playoff with the top finishers advancing to state. The first game is at 11 a.m. today against Foster, with the second game at 1 p.m. The tournament is being held at Sedro-Woolley's Janicki Field Complex. "

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