With 17 hits across two games, South Whidbey’s offense couldn’t carry it past the first two rounds of the state 1A softball tournament in the Tri-Cities on May 29.
The Falcons squeaked past Nooksack Valley into the state tournament and faced Seattle Christian in the first round. Falcon head coach Tim Collins said the bi-district round of the playoffs gave South Whidbey some much-needed confidence and momentum after staggering through the regular season and Cascade Conference play.
“The bi-district and the state playoffs showed my kids that we can compete even if we’re not the strongest defensively,” Collins said. “Playing all the 2A schools and facing their pitchers paid off, especially when we got on a roll.”
Seattle Christian won 9-5 and out-hit South Whidbey with 11 hits, including a triple and a double in the fourth inning that led to four runs.
South Whidbey trailed the entire game. Seattle Christian took a 4-0 lead in the second inning, padded it to 8-2 by the fourth and fended off South Whidbey after the Falcons’ three-run fifth inning.
“They hit the ball in bunches, and we didn’t,” Collins said.
Falcon sophomore Kacie Hanson had a pair of doubles and a RBI. Anne Madsen, the Falcons’ senior catcher, hit a double, a single and two RBI. Sarah Merrow, a senior, hit a double and a single in the loss.
Collins credited a batting lineup change late in the regular season for South Whidbey’s improved offense. He said that with about eight games remaining before the postseason, he adjusted the batting order to reflect the batting averages, from top to bottom.
“We were a whole lot more successful that way,” he said.
Against Connell in the elimination second round, runs were hard to find. Connell took a lead in the second inning, with South Whidbey answering later in the frame.
Connell regained the lead in the fourth and took the go-ahead run in the fifth.
South Whidbey attempted a seventh-inning rally that scored one run and left the tying runner stranded on second base. Falcon senior Abby Hodson led off with a double, her second hit of the game. She reached third on a single by Hanson, her third hit of the game. Mackenzee Collins, a freshman, hit a RBI groundout for South Whidbey’s final run.
“The top and the bottom of the order had five of the nine hits,” Collins said. “We just couldn’t get Kacie home the last inning.”
Montesano won the 1A title 7-1 over Hoquiam, which left as the second-place team. Connell ended up in fourth place after losing to Lakeside 7-4 on May 30.