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Mia Farris hit a home run and made a spectacular defensive play Tuesday, as Central Whidbey Little League clinched the title in an all-Island “Softball Classic.” (Jackie Saia photo)

Friendly rivals share cake after Tuesday’s game. (Photo courtesy Fred Farris)

The look of a champion. (Saia photo)

“Bring on the cake!!” (Saia photo)

Winner, winner, cake for dinner.

The Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball squad made it seven straight wins, bouncing their arch-rivals Tuesday night to claim the title in an all-Island “Softball Classic.”

The Hammerheads stifled the North Whidbey Bandits 9-2 at Rhododendron Park, giving them a 3-0 run in the tourney and lifting their season record to 14-1.

The four-team royal rumble brought Central, South and North Whidbey together, with Coupeville’s best proving too much for Oak Harbor’s two teams and Langley.

Since the tourney was a double-elimination affair, the Bandits, who lost their opener to Central Whidbey, would have needed to sweep two games from the Hammerheads to claim the title.

Coupeville’s diamond queens had no intention of playing Wednesday, however, and jumped on their foes early and often Tuesday night.

Playing as the visiting team on their home turf, after losing a pregame coin flip, the Hammerheads pushed two runs across in the first.

After that, Central Whidbey built a 4-0 lead midway through the third inning, surrendered one run, then promptly tossed three more on the board to give itself some breathing room.

From there, the Hammerheads strolled home, adding two runs in the sixth to pad things out.

Central Whidbey tossed a new pitcher into the mix, with recent addition Savina Wells taking the ball from CWLL coach Fred Farris, and the Coupeville 6th grader was impeccable.

Whiffing eight while tossing a complete game, Wells was also a mighty masher at the plate, bombing two home runs while batting lead-off.

Savina was in complete control and really pitched a gem,” Farris said.

Wells got plenty of help from her teammates, as the Hammerheads combined to whack 11 hits and play superb defense.

Mia Farris, Madison McMillan, and Chloe Marzocca chipped in with two hits apiece, with Mia Farris joining Wells in launching a home run.

Rounding out the hit parade were Brionna Blouin (2B), Allison Nastali (1B), and Teagan Calkins (1B).

Facing a strong foe in North Whidbey, the Hammerheads used inspired defense to shut down any rallies before they got started.

Mia Farris, who earned a golden game ball along with North Whidbey’s Reese Wasinger, made a diving snag on a foul ball in front of the visitor’s dugout to end the fourth inning.

“She had a highlight-reel catch,” said her proud dad/coach. “The crowd and her teammates erupted.”

Not to be outdone, Blouin came up firing on what proved to be the game’s final play, launching a laser to second to nab a would-be base-stealer.

As they celebrated with medals and cake, which they shared with their friendly rivals, the Hammerheads left their coach beaming.

With just two games left in the regular season — one Friday and one June 1 — Fred Farris is pleased with the growth he’s seen from his players, and excited about the future.

“The girls really upped their game during the tournament,” he said. “Scoring 35 and only giving up three in their three games.

“We start gearing up for all-stars (soon) and have a few things to tighten up, but these girls are ready to make their mark!,” Farris added. “Proud of these girls and how far they’ve come this season!”

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Coupeville’s sluggin’ sophomore shortstop Chelsea Prescott is heading to Eastern Washington for the 1A softball state championships. (Karen Carlson photo)

This is going to be a new experience.

The bracket for the state softball tournament was released Sunday, and Coupeville High School gets to face teams it has no prior history with.

The Wolves, who are headed back to the big dance for the first time since 2014, and the third time in the CHS softball program’s 41-year existence, get a blockbuster game to kick things off.

Coupeville, the #2 seed from District 1, opens against Montesano, the #2 seed from District 4.

The Bulldogs, who hail from the Evergreen League, have won four state softball titles (2008, 2009, 2015, 2017), the most of any 1A school during the fast-pitch era, which kicked off in 2002.

The opening game goes down at 10 AM Friday, Mar. 24 in Richland.

Win or lose, Coupeville plays a second time the same day, against either Deer Park, the #1 seed from District 6/7, or College Place, the #4 seed from District 5.

If the Wolves beat Montesano, its second game is at 4 PM. Lose to the Bulldogs and they return to the field at 2 PM.

Win both games and Coupeville is in the state semifinals; lose both games and the season is done.

Split the two games, and the Wolves get a third game Friday at 6 PM.

Win twice Friday, while moving in either direction in the bracket, and CHS plays anywhere from 1-3 games Saturday.

 

To see the bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2997&sport=15

 

This year’s tourney features nine teams returning from 2018’s throw-down, including defending state champ Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls).

Along with the champs, Lynden Christian, Mount Baker, Montesano, Castle Rock, Warden, Cle Elum, Deer Park, and Elma — last year’s runner-up — are back.

Busting through in 2019 are Coupeville, Seattle Christian, Forks, Royal, College Place, Freeman, and Colville.

That group replaces Chewelah, Kiona-Benton, South Whidbey, Connell, Cascade, Bellevue Christian, and Klahowya, who couldn’t replicate their 2018 magic.

 

This year’s 16-team bracket qualified thusly:

 

District 1:

Lynden Christian (12-11)
Coupeville (14-8)
Mount Baker (17-7)

 

District 3:

Seattle Christian (15-2)

 

District 4:

Castle Rock (17-5)
Montesano (17-5)
Elma (21-2)
Forks (11-10)

 

District 5:

Warden (21-2)
Royal (7-12)
Cle Elum (10-7)
College Place (16-7)

 

Districts 6/7:

Deer Park (15-7)
Lakeside (9 Mile Falls) (15-5)
Colville (15-6)
Freeman (15-7)

 

Coupeville softball’s previous state history:

 

2002 (3rd place):

beat Cle Elum 8-0
beat Royal 3-2
lost to Adna 4-0
beat Okanogan 6-1
beat Napavine 11-6

 

2014 (no place):

lost to Warden 8-1
lost to Okanogan 5-2

 

Info to know on Coupeville’s first and prospective second-round foes: 

 

College Place:

Season record: 16-7

League finish: #2 in SCAC East

Run differential: 237-124

Seniors: (2) – Jenna Mendoza, Paris Orchard

Student body count: 149.13 (2B school which opts up to 1A for sports)

Coach: Corey Davis

Mascot: Hawks

History at state championships: 2nd appearance; 1-2 record

 

Deer Park:

Season record: 15-7

League finish: #2 in Northeast League

Run differential: 175-132

Seniors: (3) – Sharon Estes, Cassidy Henderson, Lily Pierce

Student body count: 441.25

Coach: Dana Shaw

Mascot: Stags

History at state championships: 8th appearance; 6-14 record

 

Montesano:

Season record: 17-5

League finish: Tied for #1 Evergreen League

Run differential: 222-105

Seniors: (4) – Matti Ekerson, Katie Granstrom, Lexi Lovell, Lindsay Pace

Student body count: 325.38

Coach: Pat Pace

Mascot: Bulldogs

History at state championships: 22nd appearance; 67-18 record

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After finishing second at the district tourney, Mollie Bailey and Coupeville softball are state-bound. (Karen Carlson photo)

Trust me, it’s not that bad.

Yes, the Coupeville High School softball squad fell 10-2 to Lynden Christian Saturday in the District 1 title game at Sedro-Woolley’s Janicki Fields.

But never forget, the Wolves were playing with house money.

They had already clinched a trip to state, their first visit to the big dance since 2014 and only the third in the program’s 41-year history, after winning Thursday against Meridian and Granite Falls.

Coupeville, 14-8 on the season after losing for the first time in its last seven games, is Richland-bound, one of 16 teams with a chance of winning a 1A state crown during the May 24-25 championships.

And also, while the Wolves lost Saturday, they did not get emotionally savaged like North Sound Conference mates Granite and Cedar Park Christian.

The Tigers, who two weeks ago seemed like a slam dunk to win the NSC title, until Coupeville ruined that for them, completed a late-season collapse with a 14-1 loss to CPC Saturday in a loser-out game.

But, before you get ready to congratulate the Eagles, just know that two hours later, Cedar Park suffered one of the worst gut-shots I’ve ever witnessed on a high school field.

CPC went into the bottom of the seventh leading Mount Baker 8-5 in the 3rd place game, then got two outs.

Players on the Eagles bench were openly discussing not whether they WOULD celebrate, but HOW they would celebrate, when they got out #21 and clinched the district’s third, and final, berth to state.

And then? Oh, my sweet lord…

Four consecutive plays from Hell itself killed the Christians (metaphorically, at least).

A throw went off the Cedar Park first baseman’s glove for an error.

An outfielder went to squeeze a fly ball in left-center and it somehow squirted free for another error.

The third-baseman reached down for a grounder, only to have the ball skitter off her foot, her arm, and her glove as it endlessly ricocheted.

With the game suddenly tied, Cedar Park had one small sliver of hope. Get the third out and at least it could regroup in extra innings and…

Nope.

The very next pitch sailed 10 feet past the Eagle catcher, the winning run scampered home, Mount Baker tried to decide if it was more stunned or joyous and chose joyous, and the bus ride back to Bothell suddenly became a journey no one wanted to take.

It was the kind of ending to a game, a season, a career for some Cedar Park players, that will likely hurt forever.

Heck, it scarred me, and I didn’t really care who won the game.

Most of all though, at least for Coupeville players, coaches, fans, and hanger-on’s, it was solid proof that the Wolf loss was nothing to be too troubled about.

Like I said, there’s plenty of season left for the Cow Town sluggers, who lived up to their #1 seed, and merely ran into a very-efficient team from a school which has a trophy case the size of Mount St. Helens (before it blew its top).

Lynden Christian pumps out one scary-good player after another, two dozen at a time, and regardless of what their record might be, you can always count on the Lyncs to operate with a championship mindset.

But, clean up a few mental mistakes, get the normally red-hot bats smokin’ a little earlier than happened Saturday, and if Coupeville meets Lynden at state, there’s nothing to fear.

The two teams dueled through a scoreless tie until the top of the fourth, as Wolf freshman hurler Izzy Wells matched up well with Lync senior pitcher Anny Jansma.

Wells limited Lynden to a walk in the first, stranded two runners in the second thanks to back-to-back strikeouts, then buzzed the Lyncs in order in the third.

Jansma was no slouch, suffering only a first inning walk to Chelsea Prescott and a third-inning single which tore off of Scout Smith’s bat and slammed off the pitcher’s foot before redirecting into right field.

Things finally broke in the top of the fourth, when Lynden dumped a two-out, two-run single into shallow right field, the ball splashing down just inches away from two Coupeville defenders.

Even when the Lyncs added a run in the top of the fifth to push the margin to 3-0, the game still seemed very winnable for Coupeville.

It was a bit troubling that the Wolves could only scrape out a Prescott single in the fourth, and nothing in the fifth.

But, even though it hadn’t pushed a runner past first base through five frames, Coupeville’s offense has been so torrid recently, a comeback never seemed out of the picture.

Until the wheels fell off in the sixth.

Four Lynden hits, mixed with a few mental mistakes from the Wolves, let the Lyncs slap five runs on the scoreboard, turning a taut thriller into more of a run-away, and it was fatal.

With the odds not in its favor, Coupeville finally broke through against Jansma in the bottom of the sixth, but the Lync hurler denied them a game-busting rally.

Smith singled to open the inning, then, after she was forced at second on a fielder’s choice grounder, Emma Mathusek became the first Wolf to visit a base other than first.

The Wolf junior trotted down to second when Prescott was plunked on the foot, before skittering home on an RBI single by catcher Sarah Wright.

Then came a walk to Veronica Crownover, followed by a second RBI single, this one from Coral Caveness, who was one of several Wolves rockin’ the bare shoulders, gun show look while playing under a blazing Sedro sun.

Two runs in, bases juiced, and the rally caps started to tentatively come out for Wolf Nation, but Jansma was having none of it.

Rearing back and flinging liquid heat, she whiffed her fellow pitcher to end both the inning and the threat, and that was pretty much it.

Lynden tacked on another two runs in the seventh, benefiting from a blown pickle play by the Wolves and a bloop single, and Coupeville was unable to pull off any final inning magic.

The Wolves did get their first two hitters aboard, with Chloe Wheeler walking and Smith spanking a ball to right which was dropped, but Jansma quickly reverted to lights-out mode.

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Central Whidbey sluggers (left to right) Karyme Castro, Sofia Peters, and Melanie Navarro are part of a hot-hitting little league softball squad. (Maricela Sotelo photo)

Very short memories and very big bats.

It helps to have both, something the Central Whidbey Little League Juniors softball team embraced Saturday afternoon.

Bouncing back from their first loss of the season, the Wolves got immediate payback against the same foe, drilling visiting South Skagit Saturday to the tune of 18-2.

Crunching 14 hits, including four doubles and two triples, Central Whidbey improved its season mark to 12-1.

After being held to just a single hit Thursday, the Wolves immediately re-found their groove.

No one was more scorching Saturday than Melanie Navarro, who delivered a pair of triples, a double and a game-high six RBI.

She got plenty of support, though, with Maddie Georges, who missed the loss with an injury, ripping four base-knocks, including two doubles.

Toss in three singles from Savina Wells, a single and double from Gwen Gustafson, and two singles from Maya Lucero, and the bats were poppin’ all game.

Central Whidbey, which scored two runs in both the first and second, then blew the hinges off the door with a 14-run third inning, also collected 10 walks.

Adrian Burrows, Gwen Gustafson, and Jill Prince collected two free passes apiece, while Allie Lucero, Sofia Peters, Hayley Fiedler, and Maya Lucero walked once each.

Gustafson was also lights-out in the pitcher’s circle, limiting South Skagit to just three weak hits.

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Combining big hits, tons of walks, and aggressive base-running, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball squad has outscored foes 225-53 this season. (Photo by Jackie Saia)

The middle of the Island controls things.

The Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball team is dominating play early on in a four-team “Softball Classic,” and now the path to the title runs through Coupeville.

Thumping a North Whidbey team for the second-straight day, the Hammerheads improved to 13-1 on the season and 2-0 in the tourney.

This time around the opponent was the North Whidbey Dragons, who fell 15-0.

In the tourney’s other game Saturday, the North Whidbey Bandits rebounded from a loss to Central Whidbey to paste South Whidbey 20-5, eliminating the latter team.

The two Oak Harbor squads, who sit at 1-1 in the tourney, play Monday, with the survivor advancing to face the Hammerheads in the championship.

Central Whidbey needs just one win to clinch the title, while either North Whidbey team would have to win Tuesday AND Wednesday to deny Coupeville’s band of hit-happy sluggers.

Saturday, the Hammerheads, even missing key players in Savina Wells (playing in a juniors game), Katie Marti (4H show), and Teagan Calkins (wedding), were unstoppable.

“Team was very efficient on offense and defense,” said CWLL coach Fred Farris.

Central Whidbey, playing with just nine girls, finished things quickly, dropping five runs in the first, tacking on another six in the second, then closing things with a four-spot in the third frame.

Chloe Marzocca stalked the pitcher’s circle, denying North Whidbey even a whiff of success, while Madison McMillan was on a torrid roll at the plate.

She finished with a flawless 3-for-3 performance, blasting a single, double, and home run, while driving in five runs.

For her performance, McMillan received a golden game ball presented by the other team.

Mia Farris added three hits of her own, while Taylor Brotemarkle (2), Marzocca (2), and Jada Heaton (1) all chipped in with base-knocks.

Mayleen Weatherford (2), Brionna Blouin (2), Aleksia Jump (1), Allison Nastali (1), and Marzocca (1) eked out walks as Central Whidbey kept the runners churning bag to bag.

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