The lady Vikings slid into the May 27 state championship playoffs on a winning streak, with league and bi-district championship titles already on the board.
While they were outplayed by defending state champs, Pe Ell, and by Liberty Bell in the second round, the Orcas girls played hard, represented their island well, and reconnected with old friends, the Adna Pirates, who carried home the state title.
Ten of the team have been selected as all-league players, and head coach Scott Harris was named coach of the year for the third softball season running.
“I’d rather have it say, ‘coaching staff of the year,’ said Harris. “It means you’ve got the right people around you, means the kids are working hard and playing hard. It really is a testament to your team and your staff; it really is evidence of a team and a program that is successful.”
The tournament opened with a game against Pe Ell, considered the top-hitting 2B team in the state.
“They’re a state powerhouse, no doubt about it, so it was fun to play ‘em,” said Harris.
While the final scoreboard posted a 9-2 loss, he said the battle felt like a close match.
Pitcher Adria Garcia had seven strikeouts, “which is really impressive with a team of that caliber; they’re really known for their hitting,” he said. The Vikings held Pe Ell to the lowest number of runs of all their tournament games, excepting Pe Ell’s final match of defeat at the hands of the new state champions, Adna.
Through the course of the game Pe Ell smacked a run in at odd intervals. The Vikings got a couple of girls on base, but Pe Ell’s pitcher, Amanda Wood, a returning all-state, first team pitcher from last year, made them work for every touch of the bat.
“She is like a surgeon with that ball; she’s very effective,” said Harris. He said it was the first time his team had faced a pitcher of that quality, due to Pe Ell’s tradition of playing year-round softball.
“I’m really proud of the girls; they battled hard for all seven innings,” he added, saying the Vikings did better this year than they had two years ago, when they faced Pe Ell at state.
Just one hour after playing their hearts out to a bruising loss, Orcas faced their second match, against Liberty Bell.
“You gotta dust yourself off and get back in there,” said Harris.
In the second game, Liberty Bell was ahead 6-3 when the Vikings scored six runs to surge ahead 9-6. But the Mountain Lions rebounded, sending the game into extra innings. They eventually won the game in the 10th inning, 11-10.
Center fielder Lana Bronn had an exceptional game, with four outs – three of them in one inning. Bronn also hit a triple; Alicia Susol hit two triples. Garcia hit a double in addition to throwing nine sizzling strikeouts, setting a new school record at 177 Ks this season.
During the game, the Adna Pirates showed up to cheer Orcas on. For the past two years, Adna has visited the island for softball games, an overnight stay and a school dance, and many of the girls have developed friendships. When Adna popped into the Orcas dugout, it boosted Viking spunk.
“Our girls are definitely the loudest, most creative cheering team at state,” laughed Harris. “It’s a sign of a team that’s together and having a good time.”
The Vikings returned the favor at Adna’s playoff games, thronging the field to lead some unique Orcas cheers before the first pitch.
They had the thrill of seeing Adna ride the wave to victory over Pe Ell in the final championship game. The 2B tournament brackets are online here.
“We’re just out there having fun, and the kids are building relationshps and connecting with each other,” said Harris. “The team they’re best friends with won the state title. They got their picture taken with the state trophy. We had a great time supporting and connecting with the Adna Pirates.”
Honorable Mention: right fielder Kathryn Tidwell and courtesy runner Huxley Smart.
Second Team: catcher Alicia Susol; second baseman Bella Nigretto, third baseman Aliviah Garcia, center fielder Lana Bronn, and left fielder Lindsay Anderson. First Team: short stop Emily Bodenhamer, first baseman Brooke Bruland, and pitcher Adria Garcia.