A loss can go a long way in determining the resolve of a team.
For Central Whidbey’s 9/10 all-star Little League softball team, it was enough to push them through to state. Again.
After falling to North Whidbey on the opening day of the District 11 tournament — Central Whidbey’s first loss this season — the teams met again in the championship game, which Central Whidbey won, 15-9.
Down 8-4, Central Whidbey scored 11 runs with the help of 10 walks and two hits by Mckaela Meffert.
The win earned the team its second consecutive trip to the state tournament, which will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. at Vancouver’s Glenwood Little League fields.
“They did amazing. I hate to say this, but I think it probably helped them to lose the first game,” said coach Mimi Johnson. “Because they were devastated. They didn’t really know it felt like to lose.”
It hit them pretty hard. But they came back ready to rock and roll.”
After their loss to North Whidbey, Johnson said the team used their day off to relax and refocus. They set up a slip-n-slide and played a variety of games. The break did wonders for the mindset of the players.
“It was one of those things where we just wanted to give them a laugh,” Johnson said. “If you’re not having fun, why play at all? That was probably the best thing we could have done. We had to kind of rebuild them emotionally and mentally as a team.”
Central Whidbey rebounded with a 12-5 victory over Sedro-Woolley, which eliminated Sedro-Woolley from the competition and set the rematch with North Whidbey. Central Whidbey’s pitcher, Chanel Sterba, was especially effective in the win over Sedro.
“(Sterba) struck out a ton of girls,” Johnson said. “(Sedro-Woolley) really struggled with their pitching and our girls really hopped on and took advantage of that.
“She brought her A-game.”
Central Whidbey may have a small team by the numbers as compared to others around the state — only 11 strong — but they know how to win. The team’s catalyst at state last year was the pitching they faced. But, with the difficult experience of being eliminated from state after two games last season, this year’s team will know what to expect.
It may be the other teams who will have to look out.
“Who knows what this year will bring,” Johnson said.