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On a day when the Coupeville softball defense struggled at Granite Falls, freshman Audrianna Shaw had one of her team’s two web gems. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One game does not a knockout make.

The Coupeville High School softball squad absorbed a rough loss Tuesday, falling 23-11 in an error-riddled game at Granite Falls, and, for the moment, fall out of first place in the North Sound Conference.

But, before anyone panics, it’s good to remember we’re less than a third of the way through the regular season schedule, and there are still 10 league games left to play.

As of Tuesday night the Wolf sluggers sit at 1-1 in conference action, 3-3 overall, a game back of Granite (2-0, 5-3), while Sultan (0-0, 0-2), Cedar Park Christian (0-1, 2-1), and South Whidbey (0-1, 2-3) round out the standings.

But, it’s also Mar. 26, and the regular season doesn’t end until May 7, so nothing is decided.

Coupeville and Granite will face twice more, with the Wolves hitting the road Apr. 17 and then welcoming the Tigers to Cow Town May 1.

Round one went to the wrong team – if you’re a CHS fan – but that’s all it was, round one.

“So, they hit as advertised,” said a philosophical Coupeville coach Kevin McGranahan.

“They aren’t unbeatable, but we have to play error-free ball,” he added. “We had a lot of errors, mainly in the outfield, and they took full advantage of them.”

While miscues — dropped balls, bad throws, and base-running mistakes — seriously hurt the Wolves, they did some damage at the plate, and with the exception of one awful inning, played the Tigers even.

Literally.

Toss out the third inning, and the game was 11-11, something which greatly encourages McGranahan.

“I am happy with how we hit against them and competed to the last out,” he said. “They are a good hitting team; we just need to clean up the errors.”

Facing a Granite team which had scored a ton of runs (126 in their first seven games), but also given up way too many (97), Coupeville started strongly.

Drawing a wide-ranging assortment of walks, then peppering the Tiger defense with well-placed hits, the Wolves tossed three runs on the board in the first inning, then duplicated the feat in the second.

The opening frame began with consecutive walks to Scout Smith, Emma Mathusek, and Chelsea Prescott, with Smith being plunked.

Coupeville’s cerebral lead-off hitter charged home with the game’s first run after a wayward pitch skipped wide of the Granite catcher’s glove, before Sarah Wright plated Mathusek off of a ground-out.

Sophomore second-baseman Mollie Bailey capped the first inning fireworks by smashing an RBI single to left, the first of two such hits she would have on the day.

Granite wasn’t going anywhere, scoring three of its own in the bottom of the first, thanks to the first of many Wolf errors and a nimbly-executed double steal.

But freshman hurler Izzy Wells ended the inning with a strikeout, the second of seven she would chuck across four innings of work, and Coupeville’s bats immediately responded.

Walks to Smith and Mathusek set the stage, before the Wolves hammered three-straight two-out RBI base-knocks.

The big blows came off the bats of Wright, Bailey, and Veronica Crownover, the first two being singles and the third being a mammoth double to deep center.

Coupeville fell a footstep short of a fourth run, however, as Bailey, following Wright home, was gunned down at the plate by a dead-eye throw.

The bottom of the second gave a taste of the trouble which was coming, as Coupeville had a chance to get away free, yet stumbled into letting Granite put up five runs.

Fighting a harsh sun which was right in their eyes for most of the game, the Wolf outfielders struggled to track fly balls, and precious outs transformed into game-changing hits as the ball evaded gloves at a terrifying rate.

Still, Wells closed the inning by whiffing back-to-back Tigers, her pitches zinging a sweet song as they nestled into Wright’s glove behind the plate.

Down just 8-6, Coupeville seemed primed to make the game a brawl from start to finish.

And then the third inning broke their hearts.

There is little positive to say about the frame, top or bottom, so we’ll make this quick.

The Wolves went down 1-2-3, then the Tigers most assuredly did not.

Instead, Granite, given life by CHS errors, beat the stuffing out of the ball during a 16-batter, 12-run inning which local fans enjoyed immensely.

It was an inning which went on seemingly for a week, and contained one single play which McGranahan and Co. will remember fondly.

It came on the seventh batter of the inning, when a Granite hitter tried to drop a bunt in for a hit.

Charging from third base, booster rockets firing in her shoes, Wolf third-baseman Chelsea Prescott went airborne and, body stretched as far as she could go, pulled in the rapidly-falling orb.

The sophomore sensation also, against all odds, held on to the ball, even after pancaking into the infield dirt, sending a jolt through her rib cage and causing her legs to whip in directions they weren’t originally intended to go.

It was a flat-out brilliant play, one of the best I’ve witnessed on a softball diamond, a testament to Prescott’s athleticism and competitive fire.

And it was also the only thing to go right in the inning.

The Wolves didn’t back down, though, putting up two runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, but a 20-6 deficit was daunting and the Tigers kept the hammer down.

CHS freshman Audrianna Shaw, inserted into right field, provided her team’s second-best defensive play, running down and snagging a long blast to rob Granite of at least one extra-base hit.

In the end, the Wolves racked up 11 hits and collected nine walks, with Wright (three singles), Crownover (1B, 2B), Mathusek (two singles), and Bailey (two singles) leading the way at the plate.

Prescott and Wells both collected singles, while Smith walked three times.

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Hawthorne Wolfe (second from right) collected one of five hits Friday for a Coupeville baseball squad coached by Chris Smith (middle). (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

After being forced to postpone its season opener Tuesday with 10 of 16 players out sick, just getting on the field Friday was an accomplishment for the Coupeville High School baseball squad.

Once there, a young Wolf squad, which played three freshmen, starting two, out-hit host Lynden Christian, but were undone by errors in a 2-1 non-league loss.

“All things considered, not bad, but we kind of gave it to them,” said CHS coach Chris Smith.

Coupeville gets a chance to bounce right back, hosting Overlake at 1 PM Saturday in another non-conference rumble.

Friday afternoon, the Wolves jumped on their hosts quickly, plating their only run in the first inning, then having a chance to break things open in the second.

The first run of the season came courtesy back-to-back two-out base-knocks from seniors Jake Pease and Dane Lucero.

That would be the only run for the Wolves, however, as Lynden’s pitcher ended the first inning with a strikeout, before escaping a jam in the top of the second.

In that inning, CHS loaded the bases with just one out, as Mason Grove and Sage Sharp walked, followed by Daniel Olson rapping a single.

With the top of the order coming to the plate, the stage seemed set for the Wolves to go bonkers on the Lyncs, but it wasn’t to be on this day.

A strikeout, followed by a ground-out to second shut down the rally, while kicking off a run of 10 straight outs by Wolf hitters.

Coupeville didn’t break the cold streak at the plate until the fifth inning, when freshman Hawthorne Wolfe punched his first high school hit.

A fly-out to center left him stranded, however, and a potential rally in the sixth, sparked by a Lucero walk and an Ulrik Wells single, ended suddenly and savagely with three straight strike-outs.

Lynden only scraped out a single base hit against Coupeville hurlers Lucero, Wolfe and Matt Hilborn, and it went nowhere.

But the Lyncs benefited from some Wolf stumbles, turning three walks and two errors into their only two runs in the bottom of the second inning.

Coupeville finished with four errors on the afternoon.

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Aaron Curtin

   Aaron Curtin delivered a thunderous first-inning hit and some strong pitching, but the defense behind him killed Coupeville’s chances Tuesday. (John Fisken photo)

Don’t believe (all) the hype.

Klahowya may be undefeated and the #1 ranked team in 1A, but Coupeville High School baseball coach Willie Smith has seen a lot of teams in his time, and he knows the Eagles can be toppled.

Just not Tuesday.

Playing what Smith termed their “worst defensive game of the season,” the Wolves booted balls all around the field all afternoon, allowing Klahowya to run away with a 10-2 victory.

The road loss dropped Coupeville to 6-6 overall, 2-1 in Olympic League play, while Klahowya went to 11-0, 2-0.

With seven regular season games left to play, including two more against the Eagles, the Wolves have plenty of time to work out their defensive issues. And get back on the winning track.

“The good news: they are a team that we can definitely beat if we play like we are capable of,” Smith said. “I know, every coach says that, but we are really right there.

“For us, this game showed that we need to be ourselves and not try to do something different just because we are playing a “really good team” and that’s not my definition of them,” he added. “We have three games before we play them again and if we come and play like we’ve shown we can play then they are very beatable.

“I think we got too caught up in the hype of Klahowya and forgot who we were; our boys have seen them, we know how good we can be, and my expectation is that it will be a completely different game next time we play them.”

Coupeville actually kicked off the game with a brief surge, scoring two in the top of the first.

It was all downhill from there.

Josh Bayne led off the game with a walk, then came around to score when a Klahowya outfielder misplayed a ball that Aaron Curtin crushed into right.

Carson Risner picked up his team’s second RBI, swatting a ball to the right side to score Curtin and put Klahowya temporarily on its heels.

“However, that was to be the end of our feel good moments,” Smith said with a sigh.

Curtin, who has been on a tear the entire season, whiffed two of the first three hitters he faced, but was undone by his defense, which booted a ball to let a run in.

“That error seemed to rattle us and we became a comedy of errors that didn’t seem all that funny,” Smith said with a deeper sigh.

Having tied the game at two, Klahowya jumped on multiple Coupeville errors in the third to blow things open.

Two walks, a misplayed fly ball in foul territory that gave an Eagles hitter a second chance — he promptly whacked a two-run double — another walk, and then a string of more errors piled on top of each other.

About the only bright moment in the inning came when Cole Payne made a diving backhand of a hard hit grounder and nabbed a runner coming into third.

With their defense imploding and Curtin pulled off the mound (Aaron Trumbull came on in relief), the Wolves needed a spark at the plate to even things out.

It never came.

“Things went from good to bad and we just looked pretty clueless and their pitcher got some momentum and rhythm and the only other hit we managed was an infield single by Josh,” Smith said.

Klahowya tacked on four more runs in the fifth inning in what was probably the nadir of the afternoon.

“They put the game out of reach by scoring four on three hits and five, yep five errors,” Smith said with the deepest sigh of them all. “I suppose I should be impressed that they only got four, but I’m not.”

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Sarah Wright

Sarah Wright, seen here catching in the district playoffs, has been a team leader all season, both at the plate and behind it. (John Fisken photo)

The perfect season is gone. The hunt for a state title still lives.

Too many errors in the field conspired to deflate the Central Whidbey Little League Juniors All-Star softball squad Saturday, as the Venom fell 11-4 to Ridgefield in the opening game of the state tournament.

The loss snapped a 17-game winning streak for Central Whidbey, but it gets a chance to bounce right back Sunday in a loser-out game at 4 PM in Shoreline.

Win there and the Venom keep on playing Monday.

It’s a tall order, but if they reel off six wins in a row, they would join the 2010 Central Whidbey Juniors baseball squad as state champions.

Central entered the state tourney having ten-runned all of its opponents, jumping on rival pitchers quickly and with ferocity.

Unfortunately, that ended against a talented Ridgefield pitcher, who struck out five over the first two innings, putting the Venom on their heels.

Trailing 7-0 entering the bottom of the third — the victim of a rash of errors in the field — Central finally broke through.

Robin Cedillo reached base, scooted to third, then scored on a hit by Hope Lodell.

Things looked to be getting better in the fourth, as the Venom, down 9-1, put together its first sustained rally.

Katrina McGranahan and Sarah Wright had back-to-back hits to lead things off, then Emily Licence loaded the bags.

Two runs came home, with McGranahan stealing home and Wright scoring when a third strike was dropped.

That was it, however, as the rally sputtered out.

Central fought until the end, with McGranahan cranking a lead-off triple in the bottom of the sixth. She came around to tally the Venom’s final run.

Even down by seven with no one on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Venom refused to go meekly. Lodell drilled a pitch back up the middle for a single, but an epic comeback was not to be.

 

To stay on top of the state tourney bracket pop over to:

http://www.littleleaguewa.org/washington-state-little-league-tournaments/bracket/521-Junior-Softball-State

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