Deja-vu all over again for Falcon fastpitch

Who would have thought it?

Having lost six senior starters to graduation last year, the South Whidbey High School fastpitch team might have seemed an unlikely threat to win the state tournament at the start of 2004. But on Saturday, only one run prevented the Falcon girls from making it to their second championship game in two years.

After going undefeated in the regular season and shutting out all but four opponents on the year, the Falcons were an unanticipated — at least at season’s start — 500-pound gorilla at Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee during the WIAA 2A state fastpitch tournament. And, at least for the better part of three games, they played like it.

The South Whidbey girls shut out Tenino 3-0 and Chelan 2-0 in the opening rounds Friday before losing a deja-vu contest to Ridgefield in the semifinals Saturday. They would go on to lose 4-2 to Montesano in the consolation championship, placing fifth in the tournament.

“It’s like an instant replay of last year,” said Falcon coach Todd Lubach of the 3-2 loss to Ridgefield, which beat the Falcons in the same round by the same score in 2003.

But to put the tournament in perspective, both Lubach and his players said just being at the state tournament was icing on a cake they did not know they had the talent to bake back in March.

“I didn’t expect it,” Lubach said. “Once we got there, we all wanted to win.”

That attitude was apparent starting Friday, when the Falcons disassembled 11-9 Tenino. In the win, Falcon pitcher Christie Robinson kept the opposing team off the basepaths with nine strikeouts and a three-hit game, while the Falcons piled on eight hits of their own. Bronwyn Russell, Carolann Lubach and Daniel Burton each went 2-for-3 in the game.

Against Chelan in an early evening game, the Falcons outhit their opponents while getting Robinson’s best performance of the tournament. Robinson limited Chelan to just one hit and struck out 15 in 2-0 game, while the Falcon offense knocked out nine hits.

In Saturday’s game against Ridgefield, the Falcons held a 2-0 advantage into the fifth inning. That is when South Whidbey’s defensive game briefly lapsed. After Ridgefield runners got on base on a walk and a base hit, two came home when a single was handled errantly by the South Whidbey outfield. Ridgefield brought in the winning run later in the inning on another single.

Falcon senior Bronwyn Russell, who is one of two seniors leaving the team after this season, said losing to Ridgefield again was strange.

“There’s just something about that game against Ridgefield,” she said.

Against Montesano, the Falcons were not a fully recovered team. Though they put up eight hits to match their opponents, they could not make up for the four runs Montesano scored between the fourth and fifth innings.

The Falcons end the season with a record of 24-2 and as North Cascade Conference and district champions.

At the state tournament, the No. 2 NCC team, Mount Baker, took third.

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