The Gig Harbor 10- and 11-year-old Little League softball all-stars dominated their competition all postseason, so when the championship game against Mill Creek was tied at 2-2 going into the fifth inning, it was unknown how they would respond.
The answer was: beautifully.
Allie Ivester hit an inside-the-park homer, and Gig Harbor scored 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth to defeat Mill Creek and win the state championship, 12-2 last Thursday in Kirkland.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” Gig Harbor coach Bob Werner said. “We played so well throughout the week, and we beat two very good clubs to take home this title.”
Gig Harbor took a quick 1-0 lead in the first without a hit as Adie Werner walked, stole a base and scored from second a wild pitch.
Werner started on the mound and went two scoreless innings. She struck out four and walked just one. Emma Vaughn also pitched well, but she gave up two unearned runs in the top of the third, and Mill Creek took a 2-1 lead into the fourth.
“Both Werner and (Vaughn) pitched great,” Bob Werner said. “I saved Adie just in case we had to play another game tomorrow, and Emma pitched very well. We just didn’t give her as much help defensively.”
In the fourth, Madisen McCutcheon led off with a single and promptly stole second base. A Maddie Malich bunt moved McCutcheon to third base and put the tying run 60 feet away.
After a Vaughn strikeout and an Anna Paul walk, Anna Stewart came up with a clutch two-out double to tie the game going into the fifth.
That’s when the Gig Harbor bats came to life.
Silvester led off the inning with a hard liner to left field, and when the Mill Creek outfielder dove and didn’t come up with the ball, there was nothing between her and an inside-the-park homer to give Gig Harbor a 3-2 lead. Three straight singles gave the all-stars another run, and then a safety squeeze from Malich made it 5-2.
Mill Creek made a pitching change, and it Gig Harbor’s bats went from hot to blazing. The all-stars collected seven straight hits — four singles, a double and a triple.
A McCutcheon double made the score 12-2 and invoked the 10-run mercy rule.
“That was a big inning,” Bob Werner said. “It showed how much heart this club has, and how much we wanted to win this tournament. It would have been easy for us to lay down and say, ‘We’ll get them the next time,’ but we didn’t do that.
“The 12-2 score doesn’t indicate how close this game was at all,” he added. “This was a great game.”
Gig Harbor gave it a valliant effort, but Snohomish proved to be too tough in the state-championship game on July 20 at La Center Park in La Center.
“We had beaten them back-to-back to take home the state title last year,” Gig Harbor coach Dean Johnson said. “It was clear that they wanted redemption. My hat’s off to them.”
In their first matchup, the Snohomish pitchers struck out 11 of the first 12 Gig Harbor hitters, and, despite a strong pitching effort from Audrey Allen, Gig Harbor lost, 7-1 on July 18.
The bats did get going against Soundview the day after as Gig Harbor scored five runs in the third inning en route to a 6-3 victory. Allen went 2-for-3 in the game, as did Natalie Haworth.
The big hit, though, was a three-run triple from Ella Anthony to bust the game open and set up a rematch with Snohomish for the championship.
Once again, the bats were silenced by the Snohomish pitching staff. Edya Pinich had an RBI triple in the second inning, and Allen added an RBI single in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough as Snohomish won, 6-2.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of this group of young ladies,” Johnson said. “They played their hearts out and never gave up each and every game we played. I hope these girls are as proud of their second-place state finish as I am.”
KEY PENINSULA JUNIORS
Key Peninsula traded blowouts in their first two games of state tournament, which was held in Spokane starting last Saturday.
In round one, the Key Peninsula bats scored early and often, and solid pitching led the all-stars past South Skagit 12-2 in five innings at Medical Lake High School’s baseball field.
West Seattle shut down the normally potent Key Peninsula lineup 6-0 on Sunday, moving Key Peninsula the consolation bracket and will play on Tuesday.