The Falcons lost to conference-leading Granite Falls Tigers 2-1 on Wednesday.
Granite Falls (11-2 in Cascade Conference, 12-3 overall) is first in the Cascade Conference.
“We’re losing by a few points to good teams, so I think we’re right there,” said Falcon senior center fielder Chantal White.
A pitching duel ensued. Falcon senior Katy Piehler led the Falcons, and Tiger freshman Kimberly Martinez kept the game scoreless until the top of the third inning. Granite Falls’ Peyton Spencer, who also pitched, and Logan Thomas scored off Hayley Brennan’s double through the middle of the infield.
The Falcons ended the Tigers’ rally with the bases loaded and one out. Taylor Pope, the Falcons’ senior first baseman, caught a knee-high line drive and tagged Sam Street out at first base.
In the fourth inning, junior left fielder Brittany Wood caught a pop fly deep in left field and stopped Granite Falls from extending its lead.
Wood, who returned to the team after missing the first five weeks due to scheduling conflicts, knew stopping that Tigers’ rally was paramount to allow her team a chance to win.
“It was a good thing that I caught those balls,” Wood said, “because it ends any opportunity that they have to score on us. I’m just doing my job.”
Alex Kubeska reached first base on a walk to lead off the fourth inning. Piehler hit a fielder’s choice. Freshman Mia Crain replaced Piehler as a pinch runner. Zoey Maeser also hit a single to left field and advanced Crain to second. Pope then reached first to load the bases.
Freshman MacKenzie Hezel walked and scored Crain to cut Granite Falls’ lead to 2-1. The Tigers ended the inning with an attempted stolen base and strikeout.
White hit a line drive down the middle of center field. After a dropped catch by Tiger center fielder Thomas, White rounded to second base and was called out on a rule violation.
The Falcons failed to get a runner on base and had the final opportunity to score in the bottom of the seventh inning.
During the Tigers’ at bat, Piehler and Pope made a highlight play to keep the Falcons’ hopes alive.
After a low-rolling hit by Cacia Stevens, Piehler chased down the ball outside of the circle, scooped the ball and pitched it to Pope for the out.
Hayley Viers, the Falcons’ freshman second baseman, caught a pop fly for the second out. White ended the inning by catching a shallow line drive in center field.
The Falcons had to either tie the game to send it to extra innings or score two runs to win. Pope hit to shallow left field, but was called out at first after a throw from Street to Emily Walborn. Hezel struck out.
With two outs and no runners on, Viers stepped to the plate. After two foul balls, Viers hit the ball down the middle of the infield for a single.
Wood then singled down the middle, and freshman catcher Chantel Brown followed with another single up the middle.
But, after an attempted run for home plate, Viers was ruled out on a throw by Thomas from center field, ending the game with the final score 2-1.
“Losing at the very end was definitely very disappointing, because we played so hard only to lose,” White said.
“We really wanted it because we felt it was a very crucial game. I’m still really proud of my team for stepping up like that.”