A difficult season came to a difficult end May 16 for the South Whidbey softball team.
South Whidbey lost the first two games in the 1A District 1 tournament in Sedro-Woolley to Nooksack Valley and Friday Harbor, and was eliminated from the postseason. Nooksack Valley won 16-4 in the first game of a first-round doubleheader, and Friday Harbor won the nightcap 9-6. With the season over, one of the two Falcon seniors recalled being stunned, but reserved, at the end of her high school career.
“It was weird being one of two seniors on the team. My teammate [Haley Viers] who I’ve played with as long as I can remember was crying and sad,” said Falcon senior Chantel Brown. “And that’s hard for me to see.”
“I probably looked calm and collected, like no big deal,” she added. “Inside it was settling in that I was never putting on another softball jersey for the high school again.”
The losses also capped the Falcons’ year at 3-15 against Cascade Conference opponents — last place — and 4-17 overall. Despite the low win-loss record and early ouster from the playoffs, Brown praised the program and first-year head coach Tim Collins.
“Before we were 1A, we never really got the chance to play in districts,” Brown said.
“I’m so proud of how far all of the girls have come,” she added. “We’ve learned so much from Tim.”
South Whidbey qualified for the district tournament as one of only two 1A teams from the Cascade Conference, while all five of the Northwest Conference teams qualified in addition to the independent Friday Harbor.
Nooksack Valley, the top-seeded team in the tournament, made quick work of South Whidbey in a 16-4 victory that was shortened because of the 10-run mercy rule. Pitching was a problem for South Whidbey in the first game. Having relied on freshman Kacie Hanson all year, nagging pain forced the Falcons to pull her from the circle and put in Brown as her replacement. Brown had never pitched in a softball game prior to May 13 when she was put in against Archbishop Murphy. May 16 marked the second time Brown pitched in a game, and the result was a lot of walks, passed balls and a 10-run loss.
“We had to find another pitcher, which was me, and I’m not a pitcher,” said Brown, who in her four-year Falcon career had played every other position save for pitcher. “I struggled to get strikes, and as a team we struggled to collect runs.”
“I have now conquered all the positions,” she added.
Between the nightcap of the doubleheader, the Falcons had just enough time to take a quick bathroom or snack break before taking the other field to face Friday Harbor. Brown said there was no downtime pep talk or rally huddle for the Falcons, who felt confident in facing the Friday Harbor Wolverines who were soundly defeated 19-9 by South Whidbey in the first game of the season.
Friday Harbor took an early lead, but South Whidbey hung around until late in the game, when the Wolverines broke out to a 9-6 lead.
“Most of our hits were right to their outfielders,” Brown said.
South Whidbey’s season was written in losing streaks and punctuated by wins. After winning the first game with a 10-run victory, the Falcons lost the following five, won one against Archbishop Murphy, then lost the next four. The season ended on a seven-game losing streak in which the Falcons fluctuated between allowing 18 and seven runs to the top three teams in the Cascade Conference. Brown, however, maintained a positive view of the season and the team’s development.
“We definitely had an upward progression,” she said. “I watched girls who had probably never even seen a softball game before get into the starting lineup.”