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2B Softball: Pe Ell-Willapa Valley Earns First State Title

SWINGING: Offense Carries Titans to State Championship Over Napavine
By Matt Baide
YAKIMA — Defense wins championships, but offense certainly plays a big role, too.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley used their bats to power past teams throughout the entire season, and that work culminated on Saturday, as the Titans had 13 hits in a 10-1 win over Napavine to capture the State 2B Softball Tournament championship.
“I’ve said it from the beginning, this team can hit,” PWV coach Ken Olson said. “We did this from Day 1, so it’s really about offense, but you don’t get it done if you don’t have (senior pitcher) Dakota Brooks. She was a bulldog and just a tremendous asset to us and we’ll miss her dearly with her graduating.”
It is the first title in the combined program’s three-year history and the first for Olson, who has more than 20 years as a head coach under his belt.
Olson said it’s the best team he’s ever coached, for a few reasons — the first being skill.
“I think it’s super important to have all three facets. You’ve got to have a mental game, and I thought we had that,” Olson said. “These kids have got to like each other. I’ve had teams that have been good teams that didn’t care for each other too much, and they don’t work. This team absolutely loves each other.”
Brooks, the standout senior, pitched the entirety of the championship game, and allowed just one run. It only the second run she allowed during the two-day stint in Yakima.
“It feels great. I’ve been waiting four years for it,” Brooks said. “It feels really awesome.”
The Titans lost 15-1 to Adna in last year’s state semifinals, and the experience wasn’t lost on Brooks.
“It stuck with me the whole time, the whole time we had to play Adna, I was like, ‘OK, we have to get past them,’” Brooks said. “In the (state) semifinals, I was like, ‘I’ve never been past this point. We’ve got to get past it, and then we can do good.’”
The game was a rematch of the District 4 championship, which PWV won 10-0 in five innings last Saturday in Centralia.
The Titans scored a run in the first on an RBI triple from Sid Pollard, who then hit an RBI double in the third to push the lead to 2-0.
Napavine had some life in the bottom of the third, as Ada Williams hit an RBI triple to swing the momentum. But a baserunning error ended the threat with just one run, and it was all PWV the rest of the way
Kamryn Adkins grounded out in the fourth to bring home a run for 3-0 advantage. PWV broke the game open in the fifth, as Pollard hit her second RBI double of the game and was brought home on the next at-bat by Brooks’ triple. Britney Patrick followed with another RBI triple for a 6-1 lead after five innings.
The Titans put the icing on the victory in the sixth, as Katelyn McGough hit a three-run homer over the center field fence, and Brooks knocked in another run for the eventual 10-1 final.
Napavine made a solid run through the tournament to finish in second, including a win over defending state champion Toutle Lake in the semifinals. It was the third second place finish for the Tigers in the last four seasons, though coach Chad Williams was happy with his team’s progress.
“If you had seen this team earlier in the year, you probably would have have said there’s no way in hell we’d be in the championship game,” Williams said. “These girls have improved each week and that’s all I can really ask. They’ve made some big strides in the last two weeks of the district tournament, and the state tournament. And they’re playing together, playing for each other, which is really nice to see.”
Abbi Music pitched a solid game in a loss for the Tigers, but Music was stellar throughout the state tournament, giving up just 10 runs in four games.
“I was stoked. It was more than I could have asked for from my team,” Music said. “We peaked at the right time. The postseason was just good for us.”
Napavine returns eight starters next year and will look to try to return to the finals in 2018.
But the 2017 softball season was dominated by the thunderous bats of the Titans, whose only loss of the season came to Montesano — which won the State 1A championship on Saturday.
“It’s pretty darn exciting. … You look at those (coaches) and I’ve been doing it longer than they have, and I’ve only gotten one,” Olson said. “It’s hard to do, hard to get a team like that put together. It’s so hard, and people don’t understand how hard it is.”
Brooks ended her prep career with a state title, and she got to complete the journey with her dad, Luke, as an assistant coach.
“I worked my entire life for this and for him to be here, it was awesome. It was amazing,” Brooks said.
She will take her talents to Centralia College next year, but for right now, the bus ride home will be a lot more fun with her best friend — the golden glove trophy — sitting next to her.
“It’s with me all weekend, I’ll take it home, I’ve saved a spot on the bus for it,” Brooks said. “The whole way over here, I said, you can’t sit here, this is saved for my friend trophy. It’s with me, all weekend.”

At Yakima
Pe-Ell WV 101 134 0 — 10 13 0
Napavine 001 000 0 — 1 9 0
Batteries: PWV — Dakota Brooks and Grace Hodel; Napavine — Abbi Music, Ada Williams (5), Music (6) and Courtney Oster

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