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Opposing teams, beware, Coupeville catcher Sarah Wright is coming to kill all your softball dreams. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hit ’em hard, hit ’em fast, and bury ’em a mile deep.

Delivering an emphatic message to the rest of the league, the Coupeville High School softball squad delivered a knockout punch Thursday in its North Sound Conference opener.

Powered by a first inning three-run home run off the bat of senior catcher Sarah Wright, a cannon shot which sailed over the center field fence and was last seen taking out a passing 747, the Wolves decimated visiting Cedar Park Christian 13-2.

The five-inning win, called early thanks to the mercy rule, lifts CHS to 1-0 in league play, 3-2 overall.

It also gives the Wolves a huge shot of confidence as they prepare for a week-long, four-game road trip.

Coupeville hits Granite Falls next Tuesday, Mar. 26, then swings by Sultan Mar. 28, before wrapping things with a doubleheader Mar. 30 in which it’ll face Fife and Forks.

The first two are league games, the second two non-conference tilts offering a chance to dance with some heavy hitters.

All the big bats Thursday belonged to the Wolves, who jumped on Cedar Park early, then never let up, ringing up runs in each of the four innings in which they came to the plate.

With freshman hurler Izzy Wells in fine form, flinging seven strikeouts while surrendering just three hits, everything was clicking for Coupeville.

“So, good start to league play,” said CHS coach Kevin McGranahan. “We took control from the first at-bat and never looked back.

Izzy controlled the hitters and we just played a good solid softball game.”

The tone of the game was set in the first inning, a frame in which Wright wrote a perfect script both in the field and at the plate.

She closed the top of the inning by popping up from behind home and unleashing a wicked shot into the glove of Wolf third-baseman Chelsea Prescott, who slapped the tag on an Eagle who had leaned the wrong way at the wrong time.

Sparked by the defensive gem, Coupeville came out swinging in its half of the inning.

Lead-off hitter Scout Smith lashed a scorcher across the infield which crawled up the CPC second baseman’s glove and shot off to frolic in wide open spaces.

Two passed balls later, she was camped out at third, to be shortly followed by Prescott earning a walk and strolling down to first.

At that point the Cedar Park pitcher stepped back and let a gush of air out of her lungs, her shoulders sagging.

Course, she could have just waited a nanosecond, because Wright would have knocked all the air out of her lungs free of charge.

Launching the ball away from that strange thing hanging in the sky (we were later told it was the sun, but this is spring, and the sun never shines during spring sports…), the senior slugger had all day to stroll the base-paths.

If the ball ever landed, and that is still in question, it most likely hit somewhere up around Ebey Bowl, took a hard bounce or two, then landed in front of a startled cow.

The game went on for another hour or so, but it effectively ended the moment Wright’s home run left the park.

From there it was a romp, as the Wolves stretched the lead out to 8-0, gave back two runs just to make the appearance of playing fair, then slapped on another five-spot to close the afternoon.

Coupeville plated four runs in the second, after getting runners on base the old-fashioned way, thanks to Nicole Laxton being plunked for the 11,798th time in her career, Wells reaching on an error, and Smith walking.

With the bags juiced, Emma Mathusek whistled a two-run double into the deepest, darkest part of left field, a resounding shot which had inside-the-park grand slam written on it until the ball skidded under the fence.

That forced the ump to signal a ground-rule double, sending Smith back to third and forcing Mathusek, flying around second, to come to a skidding stop, followed by a few hops back to the bag, where she perched, epic grin washing across her face.

Smith made it home a moment later, anyway, alertly darting in on a passed ball, while Mathusek tapped home when Wright ripped a hot shot off the third-baseman’s glove.

Three straight singles, coming off the bats of Laxton, Wells, and Smith, delivered the lone run in the third inning, before CHS sent nine batters to the plate during a five-run fourth.

Chloe Wheeler came off the bench to eke out a bases-loaded walk to pick up an RBI, followed by Coral Caveness smoking an RBI single into an impossibly-small gap between Cedar Park’s second-baseman and first-bagger.

Not to be outdone, Wells roped a two-run single which skidded down the third-base line, frantically hugging fair territory all the way.

The game’s final run is the kind which brings a smile to a coach’s face, as two of his players stayed alert and took advantage of opportunity, instead of being lulled to sleep by a big lead.

When a third strike made a run for freedom, skidding off the CPC catcher’s mitt and heading out for a stroll, the batter, Smith, took off like she was running the 100 at the Olympics.

Hurrying to make the play, the Eagles failed twice.

The throw was late to first, with Smith bending away from the tag, while Caveness broke for home once the ball was launched and scampered home to score.

That left Ms. Unflappable to close out the game from the pitcher’s circle, and Wells exited in style, ripping off back-to-back swinging strikeouts, before inducing a tepid game-ending grounder to Prescott.

 

JV gets some work:

A day after bonking Concrete’s varsity, the Wolf JV got to play a quick three-inning scrimmage with Cedar Park, which used a mix of varsity and JV players.

While CPC was up 8-5 when the game was called, it doesn’t go down as an official loss since it wasn’t a complete game.

Wolf sisters Heidi and Abby Meyers, who held down second and short, were the stars of the scrimmage, gobbling up everything that came their way.

Also of note was the season debut of Marenna Rebischke-Smith, returning to hold down first-base after recovering from a broken leg she suffered during winter cheer season.

Coupeville generated all its scoring in the bottom of the first, and might have gotten more if JV games didn’t have a restrictive five runs per inning rule.

The Wolves sent 10 runners to the plate, with lead-off hitter Lily Leedy kicking things off with a walk, then ending them with a two-out RBI single.

In between, CHS got base-knocks from both Meyers sisters, with Heidi belting a stand-up double, Morgan Stevens, and Mollie Bailey.

Audrianna Shaw, who had Coupeville’s only base-hit in the final two innings, walked in the first, as did Ivy Leedy, though she got her base thanks to being nailed by a wayward pitch.

Which, in honor of ball-magnet Laxton, is known as “getting Nicoled.”

 

To see pics from Thursday’s games, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Softball-2018-2019/SB-2019-03-21-vs-CPC/

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Abby Meyers reached base five times Wednesday as Coupeville’s JV softball sluggers rallied to beat Concrete’s varsity. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No lead is safe on the prairie.

A week after their varsity counterparts roared back from 10 runs down to win, the Coupeville High School JV softball squad showed the same kind of moxie.

Rebounding from an 11-2 deficit against Concrete’s varsity team Wednesday, the Wolf sluggers blew up the scoreboard en route to an 18-15 victory.

The home win lifts Coupeville’s JV to a flawless 2-0 on the young season.

“Total team effort, well done ladies,” said Wolf JV coach Greg Thomas.

His boss, Coupeville varsity coach Kevin McGranahan, was channeling Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon after watching his second miracle comeback of the spring.

“Yeah … I am too old for that,” he said with a laugh.

Playing under sunny skies, as opposed to the howling wind and sideways rain which generally accompanies softball season, the young Wolves struggled a bit in the early going against more-seasoned competition.

Despite eking out five walks in its half of the first inning, Coupeville found itself trailing 11-2 just an inning and a half into the game.

Six of Concrete’s first seven hitters reached base, and the Lions bashed a pair of home runs to set off the scoring.

Tack on a third round-tripper in the top of the second, and things looked dire.

Unless you know what wonders can happen out here on the prairie, then it was nothing much to worry about.

Coupeville’s pitching snapped into shut-down mode after that, limiting Concrete to just three hits total, and no more home runs, over the final five innings.

That gave the offense time to heat up, and once it did, the Wolves rained pain down on the Lion hurlers to the tune of 13 hits, including a double, triple and home run.

Tack on 13 walks, and every one of the 12 CHS players to see the field reached base at least once, with 10 of them scoring.

Leading the way were the Meyers sisters, Abby and Heidi, who combined to reach base eight times, and tap home plate on five of those trips.

Coupeville began to scrape its way back into the game with a five-run second.

Walks to Amanda Thomas and Abby Meyers, packaged around singles from Kylie Van Velkinburgh and Lily Leedy, set the stage, with Chelsea Prescott capping things by mashing a home-run of her own.

The Wolves finally knotted things at 13-13 in the fourth, an inning in which they collected singles from Prescott and Ivy Leedy, a double from Chloe Wheeler and a triple by Mckenna Somes.

Concrete still had some life left in its bats, however, going back up 14-13 in the fifth, then retying the game at 15 in the top of the sixth.

CHS was having none of that, however, plating three in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to base-knocks from Van Velkinburgh, Somes, and Abby Meyers.

With the lead firmly in place and the sun starting to sink, Prescott stormed into the pitcher’s circle and slammed home the final dagger, hurling nasty heat as she gunned down the final Lion hitters.

Coupeville spread out its offense all day, with Prescott (1B, 1B, HR), Van Velkinburgh (1B, 1B), and Somes (1B, 3B) peppering the ball.

Wheeler (2B), Ivy Leedy (1B), Izzy Wells (1B), Lily Leedy (1B), Audrianna Shaw (1B), and Abby Meyers (1B) rounded out the hit parade.

Heidi Meyers, Morgan Stevens, and Thomas combined to collect four walks and four runs.

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Coupeville freshman Mckenna Somes scored three times Saturday, while playing in her first high school softball game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

If it wasn’t for the mercy rule, the game might still be going.

Scoring the maximum five runs in each inning Saturday, the Coupeville High School JV softball team paddled 2A Lakewood 20-6 in a game played on a neutral field in Oak Harbor.

Nine of 11 Wolves scored at least once, while the young guns racked up 10 hits and 14 walks in their season opener.

The run-fest started in the bottom of the first inning, where Coupeville didn’t record a single out while going through the first seven slots in the lineup.

And it didn’t let up from there, as the Wolves picked apart Lakewood’s pitching, while their own hurler, Mollie Bailey, whiffed 10 Cougars.

The opening salvo for Coupeville started with back-to-back walks to Audrianna Shaw and Mckenna Somes, followed by three straight base-knocks.

Izzy Wells teed off on a pitch, launching a double, while Bailey and Kylie Van Velkinburgh plunked singles into open gaps in the defense.

Sisters Ivy and Lily Leedy closed the first-inning assault by demonstrating eagle eyes, both eking out free passes on walks.

The rat-a-tat offense never let up for Coupeville, with Wells smashing a triple, Bailey and Van Velkinburgh launching doubles, and Shaw, Bailey, and both Leedy sisters tacking on singles.

Shaw, Somes, and Heidi Meyers each picked up three base on balls, Chloe Wheeler and Amanda Thomas walked twice apiece, and Morgan Stevens helped anchor the rock-solid Wolf defense while stationed in left field.

Coupeville, after waxing a big-school opponent, gets a different kind of challenge in its next game.

The Wolf JV hosts Concrete Wednesday, Mar. 20 and the 4 PM game is against the 2B school’s varsity squad.

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“Get off me, ball!! Way to wear it, babe!!!” Coupeville catcher Sarah Wright leads the dugout chatter after a teammate gets plunked. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mollie Bailey: “I’m stealing second, coach.” Ron Wright: “Don’t even think about it.” Bailey: “They don’t call me Wheels for nothing, my man.” Wright: “No one calls you Wheels, shorty. Do we have to have this conversation every freakin’ time you get on base?” Bailey: “Yes, yes we do…”

Young stars (l to r) Izzy Wells, Audrianna Shaw, and Coral Caveness ponder the fate of the universe.

Homer-hittin’ titan Veronica Crownover arrives for the party.

Shaw flies home.

Mackenzie Davis comes up firing.

Wolf tennis stars Genna Wright (left) and Tia Wurzrainer have no fear of the sunshine.

Wells delivers the high, hard cheese.

There was a little bit of everything for everyone.

Saturday brought with it three Coupeville High School softball games, two for the varsity and another for the JV squad.

Toss in some rare early-spring sunshine, a lot of wins, and some steady camera-clicking by John Fisken, and it was a fairly complete day.

To see everything the paparazzi shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Softball-2018-2019/SB-2019-03-16-vs-OH/

And, remember, a percentage from any purchases goes to help fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes.

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Senior softball slugger Veronica Crownover smashed a three-run home run, a two-run double, and the world’s longest RBI single Saturday, as 1A Coupeville shocked 3A Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Something special happened Saturday in Oak Harbor.

Many will immediately think I’m talking about the Coupeville High School softball squad, repping one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, stunning their 3A hosts 8-3 in the first varsity match-up between these programs in maybe forever.

And it was sweet, watching Wolf senior Veronica Crownover smash a three-run home run over the towering left field fence, while missing a second round-tripper by about an inch.

Cranking six extra-base hits, Coupeville’s sluggers proved the size of your hearts can trump the size of the school you’re facing.

The win gave the Wolves a doubleheader split on the day (both Whidbey schools fell to 2A powerhouse Lakewood), and evens Coupeville’s record at 2-2 heading into its first league games.

If you know me, my first reaction is to say something snarky along the lines of “they might live here, but we own the Island.”

But…

Let’s take a moment to give big props to new Oak Harbor softball coach Alicia Ashburn and her assistants, for doing what previous Wildcat coaches did not, and would not, do.

They stepped up and agreed to play Coupeville, even while knowing if a large 3A school fell to a tiny 1A institution, they would have to deal with Wolf fans dancing in their parking lots.

But they did the right thing, bringing together girls who, while they are at different high schools now, grew up often playing on the same little league or travel ball squads.

CHS coach Kevin McGranahan has been asking for this game since stepping into the job, and Saturday was the culmination of everything he wanted.

A win, yes, but also a chance to test himself and his players against our Island’s biggest high school.

Coupeville and South Whidbey occupy the same 1A North Sound Conference, and will face off three times this season. That was assured.

Saturday’s game, which was added to the schedule late, was a rare gift, one McGranahan greatly appreciates.

“This win was four years in the making and it feels good,” he said. “Both teams played their hearts out, and this is what the game is about.

“Friends that grew up and played little league together, now playing for their respective schools and having a blast doing it. It is the smiles and friendly banter that is what makes it so nice to see.”

As an (admittedly biased) writer, please have no doubt I wanted Coupeville to win. Badly.

I long ago gave up the impartiality of my old school newspaper days.

But I can also appreciate, as McGranahan does, what Ashburn accomplished with a simple “yes.”

Saturday’s game was a thriller, a one-run affair until almost the end.

It offered a special spotlight for Coupeville’s seniors — Crownover, Sarah Wright, and Nicole Laxton — and also for fab frosh Izzy Wells, who chucked a complete-game win from the pitcher’s circle while dealing with a ripped-up finger on her throwin’ hand.

And, hopefully, it is the start of a new rivalry.

The Wolves obviously can’t go toe-to-toe with the Wildcats in sports like football, where the disparity in roster size makes the issue a non-starter.

But softball is, without a doubt, a sport in which the two schools can face off, with both teams taking the field knowing it can, and will be, a true battle.

So, my plea to both sides, but especially to Oak Harbor, which largely controls the decision – let’s make this a yearly event.

The quality of play Saturday, from both teams, and the heart and hustle, the excitement, and the fight shown, makes it a necessity.

And it was a rumble, with Oak Harbor poking across the game’s first run in the bottom of the opening inning.

But, after going down one-two-three in the top of the first, Coupeville brought its bats alive, lighting up the scoreboard for a pair of runs in both the second and third innings.

The Wolves opened the second with three straight base-knocks, with Wright and Mollie Bailey punching singles to set Crownover up for the first, but far from last, hero moment of the game.

Turning on a pitch with a stunning ferocity, the Wolf first-baseman walloped the ball to deep center field, sending both of her teammates streaking for home as she pulled into second base with a stand-up double.

While Oak Harbor escaped the inning with little damage after that, just plunking Laxton for the first of two times she would be drilled in the game, the tide had turned.

Wells was bobbing and weaving, chucking strikeouts and inducing ground-outs, and she stranded a Wildcat at third after a gem of a triple from Sam Scott.

Providing immediate support to their freshman ace, the Wolves picked up two runs in the third off of an RBI double from Wright and the world’s longest RBI single by Crownover.

The hottest hitter in the Northern hemisphere launched a moon shot to dead center, and everyone froze for a moment, watching as the ball hit the very top of the fence, thought about crawling over for a home run, then plopped back onto the field.

Veronica’s dad, Darren, wailed like he had been whacked in the groin with a two-by-four when the ball refused to go out of the yard, but, spoiler alert, a little later in this story he’ll be really, really happy.

Oak Harbor didn’t crack down three runs, though, getting one back in the third on a majestic home run from Kayla Crocker, then another in the fifth on an RBI single by Tamara Bennett.

The damage could have been worse, much worse, in the fifth, but Wolf shortstop Chelsea Prescott pulled off a dazzling double play to stem the tide.

Scooping up a hot grounder, the CHS sophomore alertly spun, tagged a runner going by her, then delivered a wicked throw into Crownover’s glove, beating the incoming Wildcat by a millimeter.

Maybe a millimeter and a half.

Oak Harbor’s defense also came up big-time during the middle part of the game, stiffing Coupeville in two consecutive innings.

The ‘Cats escaped a base-loaded jam in the fourth, started by an epic triple off the bat of Scout Smith, then nailed a runner coming home in the fifth thanks to a powerful, precise throw from left field.

With the game sitting at 4-3 headed into the top of the sixth, the overflow crowd, a mix of partisan fans from both towns, was agitated, full of angst and popping M & M’s like they were going out of style.

Wait, that was just me…

But it was OK, cause M & M’s are delicious, and because the Wolves reached a special level with the game hanging by a thread.

Emma Mathusek got things rolling with a single, slapping the ball into the gap like she was playing pool and taking people’s money while doing it.

A one-out double from Wright put runners on second and third, but an alert Oak Harbor fielder kept anyone from scoring, setting up the magic moment.

Or two moments.

The first was a miracle, because it makes no sense how it happened.

Bailey looped a ball towards second base, and the ball, operating with a mind of its own, somehow evaded every Wildcat in the area, dropping suddenly and burrowing into the ground for an improbable, but much-appreciated, RBI single.

And then a shadow covered the field.

Striding to the plate like she was preparing to sack a rival’s castle in olden times, twisting her bat until it screamed for mercy, Veronica Crownover was on a mission.

After whacking her double and top-of-the-wall single, Oak Harbor had intentionally walked her the next time up.

This time, with two runners on base, and after some serious eyeballing of her dugout, the Wildcat hurler came after Crownover, two young women fixing for a back-alley brawl.

Don’t get in a back-alley brawl with Veronica Crownover.

Almost breaking her bat in half, and almost (almost…) making her hitting coach smile in approval, the two-time All-League player hit the ball halfway to Deception Pass Bridge.

By the time the bright yellow orb descended, it was on the other side of the towering left-field fence, some 219-plus feet away, her father had screamed loud enough the relatives back in Pennsylvania had heard him, and the game was a done deal.

Oak Harbor still had two innings to hit, but Wells closed the game with her best pitches.

Ignoring the pain of a shredded finger, she gave up just a pair of walks once she had an 8-3 lead, ending the game by getting a final ‘Cat to loft a soft fly which landed with a sweet lil’ plop as Mathusek pulled the ball in and squeezed it tightly to her chest in center.

Coupeville’s most complete game of the still-young season, it featured 12 hits, with Crownover (HR, 2B, epic 1B), Wright (2B, two 1B’s), and Bailey (two 1B’s) leading the way.

Smith had her triple, Mackenzie Davis smoked a double, while Wells and Mathusek added singles.

Wells, who has both of Coupeville’s wins from the pitcher’s circle, finished with a high school career-high six strikeouts.

 

Game One:

Lakewood hit with power, fielded with grace, pitched with precision, and put on a show, rolling to 4-1 with an 18-5 win over Coupeville, followed by a 14-1 dismantling of Oak Harbor.

The Wolves had their moments, racking up seven hits, including doubles from four different players, and had a nice four-run rally in the third inning.

Laxton led off the frame with a single, followed by Smith, Mathusek, and Prescott crunching back-to-back-to-back doubles.

Mathusek’s shot brought two runners around, Prescott’s plated a third, and the Wolves garnered a final run on a rare Lakewood error.

With four runs in, the bases juiced, and just one out, there were a few fans (OK, maybe just me) who entertained thoughts of Coupeville coming all the way back from the 15-1 deficit it faced at the start of the inning.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Lakewood used a strikeout and a slightly dubious interference call on a Wolf runner to bring things to an end.

Smith (1B, 2B) paced the Coupeville attack, while Mathusek (2B), Crownover (2B), Prescott (2B), Laxton (1B), and Wright (1B) also collected a base-knock.

Freshman third-baseman Audrianna Shaw walked twice.

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