It was a championship, but just barely

The two games the South Whidbey High School fastpitch team played to win the District 1 2A championship this week could not have been more different.

Going into the tournament as the undefeated North Cascades Conference champions, the 20-0 Falcons were intent on winning their second straight district championship. In their first game, the girls played the kind of ball their fans are used to as they buried the Blaine girls under an avalanche of runs in a 13-0 win.

But on Monday, the only NCC team to have given the Falcons any trouble this season, Nooksack Valley, took the Falcons to the limit.

Playing the Pioneers at a neutral field in Sedro-Woolley, the Falcons ran into big trouble at bat. On their way to a 1-0 win -- the tightest score of the season for South Whidbey -- the girls managed only one hit, which turned out to be of no consequence in the game.

In truth, the game came down solely to the pitchers. As Falcon sophomore ace Christie Robinson hurled a three-hit game, a collection of three Nooksack pitchers worked every trick they had against South Whidbey. It was that trio that broke first. In the third inning, Pioneer pitcher Kristina Wilburn handed the game to South Whidbey when she walked four Falcon batters. The last, taken by Val Mock, brought in the game's only run.

Though South Whidbey committed four defensive errors -- twice as many as the Pioneers -- the Falcon fielders worked the team out of trouble a couple times. The first came in the third inning, when shortstop Julie Robinson nabbed a hard liner, then flipped it to Bronwyn Russell at second base to complete the double play.

In the sixth, two Falcon errors and a walk loaded the bases, threatening South Whidbey's miniscule lead. The Pioneer's batter then made the mistake of hitting a grounder to Mary Murphy at third base. Murphy fired the ball to catcher Carolann Lubach at home for the force out, then Lubach relayed it to first base for the inning-ending out.

Val Mock had South Whidbey's only hit in the game, a one-out double in the second inning.

South Whidbey headed to the state tournament in Wenatchee Thursday afternoon. Play began Friday morning as the Falcons took on Cascade High School. This is the second year in a row the Falcons have gone to the tournament undefeated. Last year, they lost in the championship game to Othello.

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