Falcons still in running for playoff berth

Falcon Nikki Parra bunts  in the fifth inning as the girls win their ninth game over Coupeville to remain in third place. - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
Falcon Nikki Parra bunts in the fifth inning as the girls win their ninth game over Coupeville to remain in third place.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

The South Whidbey girls fastpitch softball team is in the hunt for a coveted berth in the playoffs.

Looks like they might just make it, thanks to Alannah Alber’s triple and five RBIs in Friday’s 8-1 victory over Coupeville.

“It was a big game, and I knew we had to win,” Alber said.

The Falcons (9-6) are one step ahead of Cedarcrest (8-8) and behind Granite Falls and Archbishop Murphy (both at 14-1). Both teams have clinched a 2A playoff spot.

Friday’s game got off to a quick start with the defense from both squads playing tough.

Wolf shortstop Megan Smith threatened to score in the first inning, but was left standing on second base after the Falcons defense clamped down behind the pitching of Falcon Katy Piehler.

In the third inning, South Whidbey’s offense came alive.

Catcher Amanda Cochran led off by taking advantage of a Coupeville error to reach first base safely.

“The next two Lady Falcon batters — Samantha Pope and Rebecca Stratton — drew walks and set the table for Alber, who drove a single past the Wolves infield to score two runs,” said Falcon coach Chuck Burton.

Later in the third, with Piehler on third, Allison Wood laid down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt that scored Piehler. The Falcons ended the inning pushing four runs over the plate by executing good offensive “small ball.”

“That’s what I call bunts, putting the ball in play and generally doing all the right things on offense,” Burton said. “As opposed to a lot of big-time home runs and such.”

In the fifth inning, the Falcons were able to rally again, loading the bases for Alber, who took advantage of an outside pitch and drove the ball down the right-field line that scored three more RBIs to give her a total of five for the game, making it three-for-three at the plate.

“Alannah has been working hard in practice, driving the ball to right field by recognizing the outside pitch, adjusting at the plate and pushing the ball to the right side of the defense,” Burton said.

The Falcons scored four in the inning to win the game 8-1, giving Piehler the victory, her fifth for the season.

Alber said that the batting practice the day before was huge for her.

“All of us worked on hitting the ball where it’s pitched and trying to hit it between the gaps in the opposing infield,” she explained. “We’re playing tough right now and want to stay on top of it.”

Pope said the 10-point win over Cedarcrest on May 4 gave the girls lots of confidence.

“Especially since the Red Wolves beat us the first time around,” she noted.

“Most of the time, we win by a point or two after having to come back from a deficit. Still, the coach told us we need to be more aggressive when we get to first base, start stealing more and not let up when we’re ahead. He’s right,” Pope said.

Cochran said she’s begun to feel more comfortable playing catcher.

“In the fourth inning, I threw a Coupeville girl out at second base; that felt pretty good,” she recalled. “No one is surprised we’re doing well this year. Everyone on this team is very good.”

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