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Out With a Bang

Four Local Diamond Teams Have a Shot at a Title
By Aaron VanTuyl

Two years ago, nobody thought Lewis County would have four state champions crowned in the same day.
One by one, though, the Adna baseball team, then the W.F. West softball team, then the Adna softball team and finally, once night had set in over Yakima, the Centralia baseball team all won their respective state titles.
Could we be in for another four-way celebration this weekend? It’s definitely not out of the question. Here’s a look at what would have to happen.

2B Softball
At Gateway Sports Complex, Yakima
This one’s nothing new; the Central 2B League has won the State 2B softball championship nine years running and sent four teams (regulars Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, Napavine, Toutle Lake and Adna) to Yakima this year.
The best bet for a championship, though, is PWV. The Titans are 21-1 — and the one loss was to 1A Montesano, which shut out W.F. West in a nonleague game Monday — and outscored their opponents 41-2 in what’s usually the toughest district tournament in the 2Bs. As a team they’re hitting .511, and senior Dakota Brooks threw a no-hitter and homered in the district championship. So, they’re not bad. (Freshman Britney Patrick leads the team with a .656 average and five homers; Brooks is hitting .585 with six homers and 45 RBIs, with a 13-0 record and 89 strikeouts in the circle.)
The Titans also have an enviable path the finals. They’re in the top half of the bracket, while the other three C2BL teams are in the bottom half with undefeated Northwest Christian (which plays Adna at 11 a.m. in the first round) and Brewster (20-2).
They’ll face Liberty Bell (16-5) — a team that, since 2007, is 3-10 in state games and 0-4 against the C2BL — in the first round at 9 a.m., and the only other 20-win team in the top half of the bracket is Ocosta. The 22-3 Pacific 2B League champs are making their first-ever state tourney appearance this year, with slugging sophomore Kaylee Barnum hitting .657 with 61 RBIs and 16 homers, but are coming off a 7-4 loss to Toutle Lake in the third-place game in districts and wouldn’t see PWV until the semifinals.
Napavine (16-7) plays Tri-Cities Prep (12-13) at 11 a.m., and Toutle Lake (18-5) plays DeSales (19-2) at 11 a.m.

2A Softball
At Carlon Park, Selah
W.F. West is making its 14th straight trip to state, the longest streak in the 2As. The Bearcats won state titles in 2012 and 2015, and finished third a year ago, so they’re used to the Saturday scenery in Selah.
There’s plenty to like about the 2017 Bearcats: Freshman catcher Paetynn Lopez hit .524 with four homers and 20 RBIs (all team-highs) in the regular season, while third-baseman Kindra Davis hit .514. Ashlee Vadala hit .500 and drove in 20 runs, and leadoff hitter Olivia Dean batted .479. Senior Lexie Strasser, headed for Central Washington University next year, hit .415 and was one walk away from a perfect game in a District 4 championship win over Ridgefield.
They do, however, have a tough draw. They’ll play 16-8 East Valley (Yakima) in the first round at 10 a.m. Friday, and with a win face either White River (17-4) or Cedarcrest (23-1) in the quarterfinals. They’ve also got 22-1 Ellensburg in their half of the bracket, though they wouldn’t see the Bulldogs until the semifinals.

2A Baseball
At County Stadium, Yakima
The Bearcats (21-2) have the best record among the four teams left in the State 2A playoffs and are on an 18-game winning streak. Their last loss came on March 31, by a 6-4 score, to Tumwater.
They’ll play Anacortes (18-7) in the 7 p.m. game Friday night, after the 4 p.m. semifinal between Ellensburg (21-3) and North Kitsap (20-3). The championship game starts at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
The Seahawks beat Fife, 4-3, to reach the semifinals, with Caden Cornett striking out eight and allowing four hits to get the win. Starter Lincoln Gilden threw a shutout in their first regional win, a 4-0 victory over Liberty.
W.F. West will start either Brandon White or Tyson Guerrero in Friday’s semifinal. White, a 6-foot-8 righthanded junior, leads the team with 39 ⅓ innings pitched and a 1.60 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 16 walks. Guerrero, a lefthanded junior and the Evergreen 2A Conference MVP, has a 1.85 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 16 walks. He also leads the team with a .421 batting average and 21 RBIs.
It’s the first trip to the 2A semifinals for third-year head coach Bryan Bullock, though Bullock took Napavine to the 2B finals back in 2014.

2B Baseball
At Ed Wheeler Field, Centralia
The Tigers (19-3) have a tall order in the semifinals, facing off against 25-0 Tri-Cities Prep at 4 p.m.
The Jaguars are led by senior Carter Ritala, carrying a .566 batting average and a 0.67 ERA. Classmate Trent Mercado posted a 0.82 ERA and hit .353, and the Jaguars boasted a team average of .440. After an 18-9 win over Stanfield, Ore., to start the season they allowed more than three runs only once, in an 8-5 win over 1A Connell.
On Friday, though, they’re likely to face Napavine ace Wyatt Stanley. The Central 2B League co-MVP struck out 81 batters and gave up three earned runs in the regular season, along with hitting .370 with 21 RBIs.
There’s also plenty of experience on the Tigers’ roster; seniors Stanley and twins Sam and Mac Fagerness were all key contributors as freshmen back in 2014 when Napavine lost to DeSales in the championship game.
In the other semifinal, meanwhile, 22-2 Colfax faces Wahkiakum (18-6) — the District 4 runner-up — at 4 p.m. The championship game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon, with the third-place game at 10 a.m.

Off the Diamond
The State 2A/3A/4A track championships begin Thursday at Mt. Tahoma High School, though none of the Twin Cities’ contingent will be competing until Friday. The State 1B/2B/1A track championships start Thursday at Eastern Washington University in Cheney. Pe Ell’s Tyler Justice, Mossyrock’s Justin Gootgeld and Adna’s Luke Wellander are all in the 300 hurdle preliminaries on Thursday; Adna’s Tori Lange and Napavine’s Mollie Olson both run the girls 300 hurdle prelims; and Adna’s Austen Apperson runs the 3200 on Thursday. … The State 2A tennis championships start Friday at the Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle. In girls singles action, W.F. West’s Sydney Cameron faces Foster’s Aileen Nguyen in the first round, and Centralia’s Rachel Wilkerson plays Sedro-Woolley’s Kasidee Beuse. In girls doubles action, Centralia’s Ellie Corwin and Hannah Jeffries play Othello’s Tanaya Anderson and Katie Walker in the first round, while W.F. West’s Mya Davis and Megan Wilks play North Kitsap’s Flynn Hibbs and Stine Nielson in their opener.

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