Sometimes, girls just want to have fun.
The South Whidbey fastpitch softball team has enough positive team chemistry that even a very tough loss on the field didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for the game or their friends.
Moments after losing 7-4 to the Granite Falls Tigers Wednesday, the girls were celebrating teammate Melanie Murphy’s birthday with chocolate cupcakes in the outfield.
Sure, there was lots of laughter and some silliness. But the frosting on the cake comes with the Lady Falcons focused on gearing up for the second half and winning more games.
Wednesday’s game started out with the Falcon defense shutting down the Tiger offense 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first, senior Teah Wanamaker started off with a base shot past the Tiger third baseman.
“Teah has worked her way back to lead-off hitter due to her hard work and focus at the plate, attributes lacking at the start of the season,” said Falcon Coach Chuck Burton. “I’m so proud of the way she has approached this season as a team leader.”
With Wanamaker on second due to a passed ball, Murphy cranked a fly ball deep to left field for an RBI double. A few batters later, Rebecca Stratton drove a line drive deep to center for another RBI to give the Falcons a two-run lead.
The Falcons battled Granite Falls to a 4-4 tie into the sixth inning before the Tigers were able to score a run due to an error and a few mental breakdowns.
South Whidbey loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with one out but could not get the clutch hit needed to break the game open.
On a short bunt to pitcher Alea Robertson, first baseman Allison Wood rushed to help and Wanamaker covered first, but the ball went through her glove and the Tigers scored.
Wanamaker walked back to second shaking her head at the error she’d made.
But a minute later she tagged a runner at second and was quickly back in her team’s good graces, then got the final out on a pop-up.
Wanamaker described how she dealt with a disappointing move on her part.
“I ask myself where do I go from here, what’s my next play,” she recalled. “We talk all the time about just flushing it away and looking ahead to the next play.”
In the final chance to score, with the team yelling their heads off in the cage, the girls were popped, tagged and struck out three-in-a-row.
“Every game this season, the girls have been just one hit or break away from beating the best teams in the league facing their best pitchers,” Burton said.
Senior Shelly Burton had a good day at third base and at the plate. She felt the team as a whole kept their heads in the game even when the Tiger’s bats got hot.
“The coach was pleased by our hitting, less so with the errors we made,” Burton said.
Freshman Nikki Parra said the mix of younger and older girls creates good chemistry. “There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to improve and win more games.”
For Parra personally, playing fastpitch is a joy in itself.
“I like the sound of the ball when I get a hit,” she said. “It’s a great feeling.”
The Falcons are 5-6 for the year, solidly in the middle of the Cascade Conference standings.
“The second half of the season is going to be fun,” Burton said.
At 4 p.m. Monday, the girls welcome Cedarcrest.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.