Back-to-back losses at the tri-district tournament brought an abrupt end to the season for the Friday Harbor softball team, May 14 at Sprinkler Fields in Tacoma.
The Wolverines tumbled into the consolation bracket after a last-inning rally against opening-round opponent Chimacum, which last year claimed third place at State, and came up just short. It’s the second year in a row Chimacum opened the tournament by hanging a loss on the Wolverines.
But it didn’t come easy this time around.
The Wolverines rebounded from a 3-0 deficit and in their last trip to the plate were one base-hit away from pulling off an upset. But with two outs and the bases loaded, they failed to drive in the game-tying or lead-changing run and the Cowboys, clinging to a narrow 3-2 lead, bagged the final out of the game and tip-toed into the championship round.
Staggered by the defeat, the Wolverines struggled against Cedar Park Christian in the following game and were eliminated from post-season play in a 11-1 loss.
Head Coach Kevin Carlton praised the team for its poise and dealing Chimacum all it could handle. In the post-season, Carlton noted, a single miscue against a team like Chimacum can be the difference between moving on or going home.
“We gave them a couple of runs here and there and you can’t do that in a game that tight.”
Still, Carlton said the Wolverines played perhaps their finest game of the season in pressing the Cowboys, one of the top 1A Division teams in the state, to the very end. Sophomore Kerri Goff kept Chimacum in check and Friday Harbor in position to pull off the upset with seven solid innings on the mound.
“It’s a loss but we went down 3-2 feeling pretty good about ourselves,” he said. “We made a few errors but we played really, really well in that game.”
Friday Harbor finished the 2008 season 16-9 overall. Perhaps more importantly, the Wolverines claimed their first-ever Northwest 1A/2B League fast-pitch title by winning 11 out of 12 league games. The team switched over to fast-pitch from the slow-pitch game in 2002.
The success of this season notwithstanding, Carlton believes even greater achievements are in store. Six of the team’s starting nine, including Goff, who tallied 14 wins on the mound, are expected back next year.
“We made big, huge strides in a lot of different areas this year,” he said. “I think there’s good things to come next year but we’re going to lose a great, great group of leaders.”
Center fielder Sunny Pascoe, infielder Kiersten Radden and team slugger Beth Ware, all of whom are seniors and starters on this year’s squad, and role-player Kestrel Bailey suited up for the final time at the tri-district tournament and will graduate at the end of the school year.
Bailey ripped a line-drive into left field for a base hit in the final home game of the season, a 3-1 win over Coupeville on May 9.