They didn’t bow down and take a beating. That’s a start.
Hosting the #1 team in the Cascade Conference Tuesday, undefeated Granite Falls, the Coupeville High School softball team came within a few mental errors of playing the visiting Tigers to a standstill.
But, in the end, precision and a veteran mind-set beat the wild ups and downs of a young Wolf squad which alternated between making coach David King pump his fist in joy and slap his side in frustration.
The 3-1 loss dropped Coupeville to 4-7 overall, 3-7 in Cascade Conference play.
The Wolves hold a two game lead over South Whidbey (2-10 in league play) in the battle for the league’s top 1A playoff seed. Coupeville can sweep the three-game season series between the Whidbey rivals with a win in Langley Thursday.
To do so, CHS will need more of the brilliant and less of the what-just-happened.
If you wanted one play to sum up the entire game, it came in the top of the sixth, was 99.9% freakin’ amazing, but bit the Wolves in the butt on the other .1%.
Granite Falls chipped an RBI single into right field and the throw back in flew over third base, allowing the Tiger runner rounding the bag to think she could safely head home too.
Running full tilt, Wolf pitcher McKayla Bailey snagged the rebound off the CHS dugout, trapped the runner halfway to home, then chased her back to the bag.
Faking the throw, which caused the runner to hesitate for a split second, Bailey launched herself airborne.
Body fully stretched out, flying like Superman, she slapped the tag on the runner as she crashed down, but hit hard and had the ball jarred from her fingertips by the ground at the very last second.
Covered in infield dirt that completely obscured her uniform number and much of her arms and face (as mom Donna Bailey wailed “I’m going to have to wash THAT!!!”) McKayla looked pissed, while the Granite runner shook her head in wonder at being safe.
At which point Bailey strode back to the mound, spit on her hand, angrily wiped it down the back of her pants (“I’m going to have to wash that TOO!!!!”) and struck out the next batter on three filthy (in every way) pitches.
Don’t piss off The Photo Bomb Queen.
Coupeville responded, getting its lone run of the afternoon in the bottom half of the inning.
Madeline Roberts beat out her second infield single of the day, then made the turn and took second when her speed caused the Granite infielder to hurry and airmail her throw over first base.
The quicksilver Wolf shortstop, who sparkled in the field all afternoon, runnin’ down balls in the hole and gunnin’ down runners, moved to third on a fielder’s choice by Breeanna Messner.
She then scampered home when the Tiger catcher muffed a pitch and let it get to the back stop.
Coupeville’s other best threat had come in the first, when Roberts singled and stole second, followed by a single from Hailey Hammer that put runners on the corners.
But both of the Wolf runners were stranded, as was Madeline Strasburg after she cranked a hard-hit fourth inning single.
Thrown off by a herky-jerky Granite pitcher who had 1,001 moves before she released the ball, CHS struck out 10 times.
They were also hurt by the wind, which built in power as the game went on.
Bailey had two knocks grabbed by the breeze, while Monica Vidoni hit a shot to center that came off the bat with a bang only to get mugged by a wind current as it reached its peak.
All three Granite runs were direct results of muffed defensive plays, but Coupeville also rebounded with several really impressive plays.
Vidoni made two nice snags on balls to right that threatened to get away in the wind, Roberts shut down everything on the left side of the infield — including a pop up she ran down behind third — and Bailey struck out four, covered her position well and never let Granite tee off on anything.