A series of errors and a three-run home run knocked South Whidbey fastpitch from its 7-6 lead March 15 and cost the Falcons a 16-10 loss to the Lakewood Cougars.
Going into the sixth inning, South Whidbey paced Lakewood by a single run, 7-6. The Falcons (0-2 Cascade Conference; 0-2 overall) were six outs from victory.
Then four errors, a few hits, a couple of walks and the long ball clipped the Falcons’ soaring hopes. Lakewood’s first batter slapped a grounder that was mishandled by Falcon second baseman Chloe Huffman. A passed ball advanced the runner to third. Falcon pitcher Mackenzie Hezel walked the next Cougar batter. A fielder’s choice to Hezel was dropped by Falcon first baseman Abby Hodson, scoring the runner from third.
Then Lakewood’s Klana Smith knocked the ball past the center field fence for a three-score home run and the go-ahead scores.
Lakewood (1-0 conference;. 2-0 overall) had more firepower in the tank, and South Whidbey had more mistakes to make. A grounder to the Falcons’ shortstop was bobbled and allowed the Cougar batter to safely reach first base. A single down the third baseline put runners on first and second. Another passed ball that got under Falcon catcher Chantel Brown put both runners in scoring position. Hezel walked the next batter to load the bases.
Facing a throw-to-home scenario to prevent another score, South Whidbey got its wish. Lakewood’s hitter chopped a slow grounder back to Hezel for an easy force-out at home plate. But her throw was too high over Brown and the error gave Lakewood another run. The next batter knocked a line drive to right-center field, but a late throw to home plate resulted in two more runs for the Cougars. A single between first and second base gave Lakewood another run, and a fielder’s choice to Huffman brought home another Cougar for a 15-7 lead.
South Whidbey attempted a comeback, but the damage was done and Lakewood won the Cascade Conference game, 16-10.
At the plate, the Falcons were fantastic. South Whidbey notched 11 hits and scored nine RBI. Junior infielder Haley Viers batted 3-for-3, and Brown and sophomore Anne Madsen went 2-for-4.
Defensive mistakes cost South Whidbey dearly. The Falcons committed eight errors, none more damaging to their chance at victory than the four made in the sixth inning. Hezel pitched all seven innings and allowed eight runs on 12 hits and four walks against her three strikeouts.