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   Katrina McGranahan, the reigning Olympic League MVP, was a two-way terror Friday as Coupeville smacked Klahowya and clinched its first league title in 16 years. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“What a day for Wolf fast-pitch!”

Coupeville High School softball coach Kevin McGranahan was beaming from ear to ear Friday afternoon, and why not?

He had just watched his Wolves torch visiting Klahowya 9-4, their fifth-straight win over the Eagles in the last two seasons.

With the win, Coupeville improves to 9-3 overall, 2-0 in Olympic League play and clinches the program’s first conference title since the vaunted 2002 Wolves, who went on to finish third at state.

With Chimacum and Port Townsend shutting down their softball teams for a season due to lack of players, the Olympic League became a two-team rumble this season.

After nabbing wins in the first two games of a three-game season series (the finale is Apr. 30 at Klahowya), Coupeville has clinched a title and the #1 playoff seed from the Olympic League.

The Wolves open the double-elimination portion of the West Central District 3 tourney May 18 against the #2 team from the Nisqually League.

Win two out of three games, and CHS softball is state-bound for the third time in its history and the first time since 2014.

Klahowya will have to survive a loser-out pigtail playoff game May 15 against the Nisqually League’s #3 team to join Coupeville in the double-elimination round.

While the Eagles had sat for nearly a month between games thanks to rain and scheduling issues, the Wolves have been playing at a steady clip, including a big win Thursday afternoon at La Conner.

That quickly showed.

“These ladies went out and took control and would not be denied,” Kevin McGranahan said. “They hit from the first batter on and everyone contributed in one way or another.

“League champs and half a season to prep for the postseason,” he added. “I am so proud for all the girls, but the seniors have fought from being less than mediocre to being dominant and doing it as a team and involving everyone.”

While senior spark-plug Lauren Rose was missing, gone to a college trip in Arizona, her compatriots, center-fielder Hope Lodell and pitcher Katrina McGranahan, came up huge in the spotlight.

The duo combined to rap five hits at the plate, while McGranahan carried a shut-out into the fifth and won her duel with Klahowya’s D1-bound hurler Amber Bumbalough.

Lodell, when she wasn’t slicing hits and running wild on the bags, also anchored a strong Wolf defense, vacuuming up anything that came her way in the outfield.

The tone of the game was set in the first inning, as both teams sent five hitters to the plate, but only one scored.

Klahowya put a pair of runners aboard in the top half, including the first of two intentional walks to Bumbalough, as Wolf coaches never gave the homer-happy Eagle standout a chance to get hot early at the plate.

The Eagles couldn’t do anything with the opportunity, however, as Katrina McGranahan punched out back-to-back hitters, giving her three K’s in the inning, to strand runners at second and third.

The reigning Olympic League MVP (she succeeded two-time winner Bumbalough last season) immediately made her impact felt with the bat, as well.

With Scout Smith perched on third after a mammoth lead-off double to center and a passed ball, Killer Kat whacked an RBI single back up the middle.

While Coupeville couldn’t get any more runs across in the inning, it signaled that the Wolves, who collected 12 hits on the day, were grooving on what Klahowya pitching was offering.

From there the Wolves steadily pulled away, plating two in the second, blowing things open with four in the third, then adding a solitary run in the fourth as they built an 8-0 lead.

The second inning was kicked off by a walk to Veronica Crownover, followed by three solid base-knocks from the next four Wolf hitters.

Lodell sliced a shot to left field, curling it just inside the line, while Emma Mathusek and Smith poked back-to-back RBI singles to put a zing in the step of every Wolf fan.

The third inning was the killer, starting with a stand-up triple to the deepest, darkest regions of right field from clean-up hitter Sarah Wright.

After the Wolf catcher bolted home to score on a passed ball, the Wolves went right back to work with their bats.

Crownover and Lodell singled, Mackenzie Davis hit a hard chopper and used an unexpected burst of speed to force a Klahowya error, then it was “Mathusek Time” again.

The sophomore sensation, coming up mega-big time from the #9 slot, laced a two-run single to right and the Coupeville faithful erupted like Old Faithful going off.

Katrina McGranahan was back at it again in the fourth, walloping a triple of her own, then scooting home on a ground-out off of Wright’s bat.

The Eagles finally broke through in the fifth, plating two runners, but Coupeville’s defense, led by freshman second-baseman Coral Caveness, shut things down quickly.

With Rose out of town, Caveness got her second-straight start and was in full lock-down mode, fielding pop-ups, snagging liners and pulling off the web gem of the day.

That play came in the top of the seventh, after a Crownover RBI single stretched the lead back to 9-2.

KSS used a double and a note-perfect bunt single to put runners at the corners, briefly lighting a flicker of hope in its dugout.

Which Caveness promptly snuffed right out, pulling off one of the sweeter double plays we will see all season.

Snagging a liner on the move, she whirled and cut down the runner who had strayed off of first, driving a nearly-final stake through the heart of the Eagles.

With a seven-run lead and one out away from a league title, Kevin McGranahan went against the odds and gave Bumbalough a shot to swing away in her final at-bat in her final visit to Cow Town.

And while she hammered a two-run, inside-the-park home run to say goodbye, the Wolves ended the game on the next batter, ensuring no one will dwell too long on the tater.

The final ball was a chopper to third, where fab frosh Chelsea Prescott, who likely wasn’t alive in 2002, gathered the ball in and calmly fired it on a line to Crownover, who stamped on first and made a bit of prairie history.

Katrina McGranahan (1B, 1B, 3B) paced the Wolf offense, while Smith (1B, 2B), Crownover (1B, 1B), Lodell (1B, 1B), Mathusek (1b, 1B) and Wright (3B) helped out.

“A huge team win. Everyone has chipped in, up and down the line, in this game and through the season,” Kevin McGranahan said. “This is what we strove for. (Winning a title) feels good; they earned it.

“I couldn’t be more proud of every young lady wearing a Wolf fast-pitch uniform, varsity or JV; it takes everyone to do this.”

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   “Dang, scored too many runs and broke the counter again…” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The tune-up went off flawlessly.

Playing on the road a day before its biggest game in 16 years, the Coupeville High School softball squad was humming Thursday afternoon.

Crushing 20 hits in just five innings of play, the Wolves obliterated La Conner 18-3 in a game which could have been far, far more one-sided.

CHS coach Kevin McGranahan gave quality time to bench players, never used his pitching ace in the circle and had the big boppers in his lineup practice their in-game bunting skills late in the game.

And still the Wolves romped, running their record to 8-3 headed into Friday’s home rumble with Klahowya.

Win that game (and CHS shellacked the Eagles 15-1 the first time around) and Coupeville clinches its first league title since 2002.

Thanks to rain and a patch-work schedule, Klahowya hasn’t played a single game since being bashed by the Wolves.

Meanwhile, Coupeville has gotten in another seven non-conference contests, going 5-2 with just losses to powerhouse Forks, during that time.

“We are as ready as we can be for Klahowya tomorrow and can now squarely set our sights on them,” Kevin McGranahan said.

His squad, even missing star shortstop Lauren Rose, who was off looking at colleges, played just about to perfection against La Conner.

Coupeville’s pitching ace, Katrina McGranahan, rested her arm, pulling time at short and third while the young guns, sophomore Scout Smith and freshman Chelsea Prescott, shared time in the circle.

Smith whiffed a pair of Braves sluggers while tossing the first two innings, made a sensational running catch over her shoulder at short in the fourth, then returned to close the game in the fifth.

Prescott, who has been a fixture at third base from day one of the season, made her varsity pitching debut and fired BB’s past La Conner in the third and fourth.

With the young duo humming, Coupeville wouldn’t have needed many runs to win. But good luck trying to stop the express train when it’s rolling.

The Wolves unloaded for five runs in both the first and second innings and put the game out of sight early.

While CHS got RBI singles from Katrina McGranahan, Sarah Wright and Mackenzie Davis in the top of the first (two other runs came around thanks to smart base-running), there was one early at-bat which wowed the gathered masses.

That came courtesy Wolf first-baseman Veronica Crownover, who worked the La Conner hurler through approximately 237 pitches.

The Coupeville junior crushed the snot out of a pair of foul balls which curved to the left and ended up down around Fidalgo Island to start things off.

Both were wicked liners which banged off of nearby buildings and would have been home runs if Crownover had gotten either ball to straighten out slightly.

La Conner’s pitcher had the look of a deer gazing softly into a semi truck’s oncoming headlights, and seemed genuinely relieved when the next foul ball went straight back and buried itself into a patch of trees.

Fouls #4 and #5 shot down the third-base line, with the second one causing Kevin McGranahan to jump a good two feet into the air to keep from earning a tattoo on his ankle.

“Ha! Didn’t think I could do that, did you??” the CHS coach chuckled, then took a quick step or two back as Crownover hefted her bat once more.

She finally reached base, coasting into second base after blasting a shot to left-center which skidded off the center-fielder’s glove and bounced madly away.

The whole let’s-smash-the-heck-outta-the-ball plan was just getting started, however.

Cue the second inning and Prescott, who strode to the plate with the bases juiced and no outs.

A single by Coral Caveness, a walk to Katrina McGranahan and Wright beating out a chopper set the table, and then the full meal was served.

Prescott, going full Mike Trout on the ball, crushed it, sending a cannon shot which punched a hole in the heavens, curled hard and plunged, biting a chunk of turf out of the deepest part of right field.

With first-base coach Ron Wright having a stroke yelling at his runners to get their feet moving before Prescott passed them, the fab frosh never broke stride, sliding under the tag for an inside-the-park grand salami.

And yet, there’s more! Much more!

Coupeville still had nine more runs to plate on this day, with Emma Mathusek, Nicole Laxton (twice) and Smith (twice) collecting RBI base-knocks in the later going.

Add a run-scoring ground-out off the bat of freshman Mollie Bailey, and the only thing preventing the Wolves from short-circuiting the scoreboard was their own sense of humility and fair play.

When Wright, your clean-up hitter, a basher and a bruiser who entered the game hitting .500 on the season, is dropping a bunt in the fifth (and safely making it to first), the brakes are as fully-applied as possible.

“They (La Conner) were a young team and learning as they go,” Kevin McGranahan said.

Coupeville spread the love, with nine of 11 active players getting a hit.

Prescott, Katrina McGranahan and Mathusek led the way with three base-knocks apiece, while Smith, Caveness, Wright, Crownover and Laxton collected two apiece.

Davis added a hit on a pool table shot that drifted past the pitcher, then spun madly, while Bailey had an RBI and Hope Lodell walked and played stellar defense in center.

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   Katrina McGranahan lays out to snag a fly ball that was caught in a gust of wind and suddenly changed directions. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Halfway in and the stat sheet is on fire.

The Coupeville High School softball squad, which jumps into the second half of the regular season this week with games against La Conner and Klahowya, is humming along at 7-3.

Coming off of an offensive fireworks show at Friday Harbor, the Wolves have some impressive numbers, and I’m here to share them with you.

The latest sweet statsy stats, as compiled by CHS coaches and posted on MaxPreps:

 

Hitting:

Player AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR SB BB RBI Avg. OBP
Caveness 18 7 5 3 2 5 .278 .350
Lodell 30 7 6 1 1 2 3 .200 .273
Mathusek 16 5 3 2 3 3 .188 .350
Smith 37 15 15 3 1 3 .405 .436
Rose 29 11 7 2 1 4 4 4 .241 .333
Prescott 29 12 7 1 4 3 4 .241 .312
Davis 7 2 1 2 3 .143 .455
McGranahan 31 17 11 1 1 9 6 10 .355 .512
Bailey 8 2 2 4 3 .250 .500
Crownover 34 8 16 4 3 1 13 .471 .486
Wright 36 12 18 4 1 2 1 20 .500 .500
Laxton 12 2 2 1 3 .167 .286

 

Pitching:

Player W/L ERA Gms CG SO Hits Runs BB K IP BF
McGranahan 6-1 2.28 9 6 2 32 25 19 43 46 211
Smith 1-2 7.47 4 1 19 23 5 4 15 76

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   Maggie Crimmins and CHS tennis swept two league matches this week to claim control of first-place in the 1A Olympic League. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Let the jockeying begin.

In a week where many teams were beset by the never-ending rain, two of the four Olympic League races we’re tracking had changes at the top of the standings.

In baseball, Chimacum, which has never finished higher than third in the previous three seasons of the conference, jumped past Coupeville and into first-place.

A one-run win put the Cowboys a game up on the Wolves, but there’s still two-thirds of the league season to play — including two more bouts between these very two teams.

Over on the tennis courts, not a single league match had been played prior to this week.

That’s changed, and with back-to-back wins at the tail end of the week, the Coupeville netters staked a solid claim to being a favorite to win a fourth straight crown.

While softball (Coupeville) and boys soccer (Klahowya) didn’t change leaders, none of the races are anywhere close to being decided yet, ensuring several more weeks of excitement.

Maybe.

Softball, thanks to the unique challenges raised by Port Townsend and Chimacum abandoning their programs this season due to a lack of players, could be settled five days from now.

If CHS beats Klahowya Friday at home, the Wolves, with wins in the first two of three games the squads will play, will clinch their first softball title since 2002.

An Eagle upset (Coupeville won 15-1 Mar. 28 and weather has kept KSS sidelined since that day) and the championship would come down to an Apr. 30 meeting in Silverdale.

And, speaking of upsets, the most unexpected score came from the world of baseball, where Port Townsend shocked Klahowya 6-2 Friday.

The win snapped a 48-game losing skid for the RedHawks, who last won Apr. 9, 2015, and sent the Eagles, the defending champs, crashing into the cellar.

My, oh my.

Current standings through Apr. 15:

Olympic League baseball:

School League Overall
Chimacum 3-0 5-5
COUPEVILLE 2-1 7-4
Port Townsend 1-3 1-6
Klahowya 1-3 2-8

Olympic League boys soccer:

School League Overall
Klahowya 4-0 7-2-1
COUPEVILLE 3-1 4-4-2
Port Townsend 1-3 1-6-0
Chimacum 0-4 0-6-0

Olympic League girls tennis:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 2-0 3-5
Chimacum 0-1 1-6
Klahowya 0-1 1-5

Olympic League softball:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 1-0 7-3
Klahowya 0-1 5-2

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   Nicole Laxton, here making a play in a home game, had a spectacular diving catch Saturday as Coupeville whacked Friday Harbor 13-4. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolves had six days to think, to plan, to prep, to refine their swings.

Pity Friday Harbor.

Aggressively bouncing back from their weakest offensive afternoon of the season, the Coupeville High School softball squad smashed 17 hits Saturday, decimating their hosts to a happy tune of 13-4.

The resounding non-conference victory, which came a week after a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Forks, lifts the Wolves to 7-3.

CHS has one more tune-up, a road trip to La Conner, next Thursday, Apr. 19, before playing its biggest game in 16 years.

The Wolves host Klahowya Apr. 20, and a win would clinch Coupeville softball’s first league crown since 2002.

Accomplish that and CHS will carry the #1 seed out of the Olympic League to districts in May.

As league champs, they would open the playoffs in the double-elimination round, needing two wins in three games to punch a ticket to the state tourney.

All of that is still fairly far down the road, however, and, on this day, all the Wolves were concentrating on was whacking the snot out of the ball.

Mission, accomplished.

“So, the weather let us play today and we came out swinging,” said Coupeville coach Kevin McGranahan. “All in all, it was a good solid game and both teams played good defense, but we played error-free and they didn’t, and we hit better than them all day.

“Good day trip to the islands and a great lunch after the game, followed by ice cream of course. On to La Conner!”

Coupeville had at least one base-knock in six of seven innings, with seven doubles and a triple along the way.

And yet the game was semi-close for two innings.

The Wolves scratched out a run in the first, with Scout Smith reaching base, swiping second, taking third on a passed ball, then flashing home on a sac fly from Katrina McGranahan.

But the rally stopped there, as they stranded Sarah Wright after she doubled, and CHS couldn’t get Veronica Crownover off of first after she led off the second with a single.

Things took a dramatic turn in the third, however, as Coupeville started to mash the ball big-time, with the first seven hitters reaching base.

11 batters, four hits and six runs later, Friday Harbor escaped with their lives intact (barely), but the Wolves were up 7-0 and everyone’s fates were sealed.

The Wolves juiced the bags with Rose reaching on an error, Smith singling and McGranahan wearing a pitch.

From there it was a revolving door of RBI’s.

Wright lashed a single, Chelsea Prescott walked to force in a run, Crownover launched a two-run double, then Hope Lodell got artistic and dropped the ultra-rare RBI bunt.

Rose came back around to close the scoring with an RBI on a ground-out, and, by that time, Friday Harbor’s collective hopes and dreams were fully shattered.

The host Wolverines managed to finally get on the board in the bottom of the third, scratching out two runs, but Coupeville had an immediate response.

RBI doubles by the scorching-hot Wright and Crownover in the top of the fourth stretched the lead back out to 9-2, then CHS turned on the web gem show.

Nicole Laxton, who came on to give Mackenzie Davis some rest, immediately made an impact.

The junior whacked a shot to right in her first at-bat, then she turned the volume to 12 on a spectacular running, diving snare on a well-hit ball while playing left field.

Snagging the rapidly-descending orb, Laxton speared it with her glove, then held on through the crash back to Mother Earth, earning rapturous applause from her teammates, coaches and hardy road fans.

On another play, fab frosh Mollie Bailey, also a mid-game replacement, made a superb throw from right to Smith, who gunned it on to Wright.

The Wolf catcher caught the ball, dropped and defended the plate like a lioness guarding her cubs.

That prevented Friday Harbor from plating any runners, and gave Wolf hurler Katrina McGranahan the chance to escape one of her few jams.

The Bailey-to-Smith-to-Wright connection paid off again later in the game, this time with the throw nailing an incoming runner at the plate.

After shocking the world by not scoring in the fifth or sixth, despite several more hits, Coupeville found its run-scoring mojo again in the top of the seventh.

Rose and Smith kick-started things again, with the former poking a ball off a glove, while the latter froze all nine defenders with a note-perfect bunt that dropped and promptly dug a hole to China.

That set up the big boppers, and they were swinging for the fences.

McGranahan lashed a two-run triple before Wright and Crownover (who else?) mashed RBI doubles, with all three Wolf sluggers narrowly missing home runs on their epic blows.

Coupeville got hits from seven of the 11 girls who played, led by Wright, who was a perfect 5-5 with three doubles and two singles.

Crownover had four hits (including three doubles), while Smith (1B, 1B), Lodell (1B, 1B), McGranahan (1B, 3B), Prescott (2B) and Rose (1B) rounded out the extraordinarily-deep hitting attack.

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