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Mason Grove (left) and Matt Hilborn were banged up after a collision in the outfield Wednesday afternoon, but rebounded to help Coupeville win its sixth-straight game. (Chris Smith photo)

Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

The late-season surge continues, as the Coupeville High School baseball squad continues to rewrite its story.

Bouncing back from a rough start, the Wolves have become a hit-happy group in the latter part of the season, and Wednesday was more good times as 10 base-knocks fueled a 7-4 win at Granite Falls.

The sixth-straight win for the suddenly-scorching Coupeville diamond men, it lifts them to 6-8 in North Sound Conference play, 6-12 overall.

The Wolves and Tigers wrap their three-game series, and the regular season, Friday in Coupeville.

First pitch is 4 PM, and it’s Senior Night for Matt Hilborn, Dane Lucero, Jake Pease, Bryce Payne, and Shane Losey.

Win or lose that finale, Coupeville is playoff-bound as the #4 seed from the NSC, and kicks off the double-elimination bi-district tourney May 4.

Wednesday, the Wolves scrapped and fought, then blew the game open with a nine-batter, five-hit, five-run fifth inning.

CHS trailed 3-1 headed into that frame, having given up a single run to Granite in the first, third, and fourth.

Coupeville’s only run before the explosion came in the top of the first, after Hilborn doubled to lead-off the game, then came around to score on a Pease sac fly.

Looking for a game-changing play, the Wolves got it, with Ulrik Wells amblin’ to the plate to lead off the fifth and promptly smashing a triple.

From there, the floodgates broke, as a Losey double mixed with singles from Hilborn, Lucero, and Gavin Knoblich and a walk to Hawthorne Wolfe.

Given the lead, Wolf pitcher Lucero, making the final regular-season start of his four-year prep career, shut down Granite, scattering two singles across the final three innings en route to tossing a complete game.

Coupeville tacked on a final run in the seventh, just to make sure, with Hilborn ripping a single and Lucero conking a double.

Hilborn (2B, 1B, 1B), Lucero (2B, 1B), and Knoblich (1B, 1B) led the hit parade, with Wells (3B), Losey (2B), and Pease (1B) each adding a solid base-knock.

 

Wolves arch-rival play for a title:

Coupeville’s first win, a 4-3 shocker over a South Whidbey team which was rolling, looms even larger now.

That meant the Falcons would have to sweep their final three-game series with Cedar Park Christian to claim the league title.

With CPC riding a 16-game winning streak entering this week, that seemed unlikely.

Now, not so much.

South Whidbey nipped the Eagles 3-0 Wednesday, after winning by the same score Monday, and the two teams are dead even at 12-2 in conference action with one game to play.

CPC is 16-3 overall, South Whidbey 17-2 (it also lost one game to King’s), and the two teams play Friday in Bothell with the pennant at stake.

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Sophomore hurler Daniel Olson struck out seven in five innings Monday as Coupeville won its fifth-straight game and clinched a playoff berth. (Photo by Karen Carlson)

Mission: accomplished.

At least the first part of the mission, that is.

Never losing faith after an 0-12 start to the season, the Coupeville High School baseball squad has bounced back to win five straight and clinch a playoff berth.

The latest victory came Monday afternoon, as the Wolves dodged rain drops and visiting Granite Falls to nab a 6-5 win in extra innings.

When Matt Hilborn’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth plated Mason Grove, it all came together for CHS.

Now 5-8 in North Sound Conference play, 5-12 overall, the Wolves clinch their league’s #4 playoff seed and are guaranteed a trip to bi-districts.

They’ll join Cedar Park Christian (12-1, 16-2), South Whidbey (11-2, 16-2), and King’s (7-5, 8-9), while Granite Falls (2-11, 4-14) and Sultan (1-11, 1-16) get no postseason love this spring.

The four NSC teams will clash with three teams from the Northwest Conference and two from the Emerald City League, with four of the nine advancing to state.

Coupeville, after wrapping up the regular season with two more games against Granite — Wednesday on the road and Friday at home on Senior Night — open bi-districts May 4 on a neutral field at Sehome High School.

Win at least one of two games that day, and the Wolves live to play again May 11.

To see the bi-district bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2913&sport=6

Monday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, with the teams exchanging leads several times, before treating fans to free baseball.

After Wolf starting pitcher Daniel Olson slipped out of a jam in the first inning, using the first of his seven strikeouts to muzzle the Tigers, Coupeville struck for two runs in the bottom of the frame.

Hilborn bashed a lead-off double, and Granite helped mightily, committing three of their eventual six errors in just a single inning.

The lead held up for a bit, even though Coupeville left a golden scoring opportunity unanswered in the bottom of the second inning.

The Wolves had a runner 90 feet away from pay-dirt after Shane Losey ripped a one-out triple, but the senior was left clamped to the bag as Granite’s pitcher wiggled away from danger like a worm evading a plunging hawk.

Sparked by their miracle escape, the visitors finally got their bats going, pinging shots to all fields as they piled up four runs during a third-inning rally.

But there was no break in the spirit of the Wolves, just a deep commitment to rallying time and again.

A two-run double off the bat of Ulrik Wells in the fourth inning knotted the game back up at 4-4, before CHS pushed a run across in the fifth to reclaim the lead.

The tie-breaker came courtesy singles from Hilborn and Hawthorne Wolfe and two more errors by the shaky Granite defense.

With their season hanging by a thread, the Tigers refused to go down easy, rallying for one last run in the top of the seventh to set up the nerve-wracking finale.

In the end, Coupeville punched its playoff ticket with a mix of grit, big plays and stellar work by young and old.

Freshman relief ace Cody Roberts stranded Granite’s go-ahead run at second base in the top of the eighth, closing things with a big strikeout before inducing an inning-ending ground-out.

Taking immediate advantage, the Wolves primed the stage with back-to-back walks by Grove and Losey, which brought Hilborn, once a bright-eyed youngster, but now a grizzled vet, to the plate.

Capping a four-hit day, the senior standout tattooed the ball out where Granite had no chance to make a play, sending himself and his team into the postseason.

Coupeville, which has been torrid at the plate during its winning streak, banged out nine hits on the afternoon.

Hilborn had a double and three singles to lead the way, while Losey (3B), Wells (2B), Bryce Payne (1B), Wolfe (1B), and Dane Lucero (1B) all added base-knocks.

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Chloe Wheeler smashed her first varsity softball hit Wednesday and it was a big one, a thunderous two-run double to the wall in left field. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Every team needs a Chloe Wheeler.

The Coupeville High School junior softball slugger isn’t a full-time starter (yet) or an All-Conference player (yet), but she is the sort of player every coach, and fan, appreciates.

A hard worker, always upbeat, always supporting her teammates, a quiet but friendly, intelligent young woman with aspirations of helping others one day as a substance abuse counselor.

Playing on a team with a deep, experienced roster, Wheeler has had to wait for her opportunities, but Wednesday afternoon, given one, she soared.

Getting the first varsity hit of her career, she didn’t dribble a hit back up the middle, or chop a roller that evaded a glove.

Instead, swinging from the heels, Wheeler belted a two-run double to the deepest, darkest part of left field, a blow which sent the ball skidding off the wall while her teammates pounded the dugout fence.

Part of a furious final-inning rally which fell just short in a 12-8 loss to host Granite Falls, her big bash speaks well for her future, and her team’s.

While the defeat drops Coupeville a game back of Granite in the chase for a North Sound Conference title, there are still six league rumbles left on the schedule.

And with the final rally sparked by consecutive hits from their 5-6-7-8-9 hitters, the Wolves may have found a way to balance a hot-hitting top of the order with what has been a somewhat lukewarm-hitting bottom of the lineup.

For now, Granite sits at 5-1 in league play, 8-5 overall, with Coupeville (4-2, 6-6), Cedar Park Christian (3-2, 8-3), Sultan (1-4, 1-7), and South Whidbey (1-5, 4-8) in pursuit.

After a non-conference game Saturday against Meridian, CHS wades into the second half of league play, a time when they will play cellar dwellers Sultan and South Whidbey twice apiece.

Coupeville also has a road game against CPC, which it has taken two games from, and a home clash with Granite, the only conference squad it hasn’t fully solved yet.

Wednesday’s game was much closer than the first meeting between the two teams, when a rash of errors on fly balls doomed the Wolves in a somewhat-lopsided 23-11 loss.

This time out, Coupeville fell behind early, trailing 8-1 after two innings, then largely controlled the game in the latter stages.

Freshman hurler Izzy Wells, who started in left field, but then moved into the pitcher’s circle early in the second inning, whiffed eight Tigers, while the Wolves collected 14 hits.

“Well, our bats were half awake through six and in the 7th came alive,” said CHS coach Kevin McGranahan. “Much better than last time, so we are making progress.

“Few bounces here and there and we were right there.”

Coupeville jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but were denied more when Granite pulled off a slick double play, the first of two times the Tigers closed an inning with a twin killing.

Wolf lead-off hitter Scout Smith, making her first plate appearance since conking a walk-off grand slam against Cedar Park Monday, lashed a double to deep center to get things crackin’.

After advancing to third on a ground-out, she alertly bolted home when the Granite catcher airmailed a pick-off throw into left field.

Then things went sour for an inning-and-a-half, and that proved largely to be the game.

The Tigers plated three in their half of the first and another five in the second, while Coupeville lost second baseman Coral Caveness when she was drilled in the elbow with a pitch.

Any time you wear a pitch it hurts, but this wayward heave connected with bone with a sickening thwack which carried across multiple fields, forcing the CHS sophomore to spend the rest of the game icing an arm which progressively swelled.

Trailing 8-1 and down a player headed into the third, things looked bleak for the Wolves, but they went to work, chipping away at Granite.

A spark of offense in the third, set up by singles from Emma Mathusek and Chelsea Prescott, and delivered by a thunderous two-run single off of Veronica Crownover’s smokin’ bat, cut the lead to 8-3.

Unfortunately for the Wolf faithful, Granite went back into lock-down mode for a bit after that, before adding three runs in the fourth for a mini-rally which was greatly helped by a field ump absolutely whiffing on a call.

Somehow ignoring Prescott slapping a tag on a runner going by, even though he was peering right over the Wolf shortstop’s shoulder at the time, the blind man walking gave the home team extra life, and, to their credit, they took advantage.

Each time Granite started to creep away, Coupeville would slice away at the lead, but was never able to find the magic key to unlocking a truly big inning.

An RBI single from Mollie Bailey and a deep sac fly from Crownover in the fifth made it 11-5, before Granite tacked on a final run in the bottom of the inning.

With Wells flinging liquid heat, Prescott and Smith made strong defensive plays behind their young ace, and the two teams marched to the final inning.

Where the Wolves, a team which has launched multiple comeback wins this season, almost (but not quite) found another miracle.

The run started after Granite shortstop Samantha Vanderwel, who had a sensational defensive day, robbed Wolf cleanup hitter Sarah Wright on a hard smash into the hole.

Deciding to hit away from the Tiger superstar, who has a vacuum for a glove, and a cannon in place of a throwing arm, Coupeville found immediate success.

Five straight hits, to be exact, with Bailey, Crownover, Nicole Laxton, Wells, and Wheeler all finding pay-dirt in the outfield, and three runners careening across home plate.

Laxton picked up the first RBI, mashing a laser shot to right, before Wheeler got dynamic.

When Smith followed the hitting outburst by walking to juice the bags with just one out, anything seemed possible.

The Wolves had the tying run at the plate, the Granite hurler was on the ropes, and one more good pop would have fractured the local fans, who were collectively breathing into one giant brown paper sack in an attempt to not hyperventilate and pass out.

But there would be no miracle finish for the visitors, as Mathusek and Prescott both launched high, arcing, deep blasts with big-time extra-base potential, only to see sure-handed Granite outfielders chase down the moon shots.

Ten of Coupeville’s 12 players collected a hit Wednesday, with Crownover, Smith, Prescott, and Bailey each notching two base-knocks.

Mackenzie Davis, Laxton, Wheeler, Mathusek, Wright, and Wells rounded out the hit parade.

While it was a loss, it was a “good” loss, and now the countdown towards May 1, when the Tigers come to Whidbey, begins.

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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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Nezi Keiper (in white, with ball) and the CMS 8th grade hoops squad went 9-0 this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The final performance? Impeccable.

Fighting through rampant illness, then enduring a bus trip to the wilds of Granite Falls Tuesday, the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams closed their seasons with a bang.

Two wins, one of which capped an undefeated season for a Wolf squad, and a narrow loss in the third game, was the order of the day.

How it played out:

 

8th grade varsity:

Granite came out swinging (literally), but was no match for the Wolves, who cruised home with a 44-26 win to seal the deal on a flawless 9-0 season.

As the game progressed, at least three Coupeville stars were left seeing … stars, as Alita Blouin took an elbow to the eye, Maddie Georges had her nose rearranged, and Gwen Gustafson was body-slammed to the floor.

That last melee drew a technical foul on the hosts, but all the bangs and bruises in the world were no match for the high-flying Wolves.

Blouin, living up to her nickname of “The Assassin,” rained down unholy pain on Granite, torching the joint for a season-high 15 points.

The slash-and-destroy guard scored in every quarter, tossing in five field goals, ruffling the nets for a pair of free-throws, then stabbing Granite through the heart with a three-ball.

Coupeville is far from a one-woman team, however, with its top four scorers finishing within nine points of each other this season.

Tuesday, while Blouin was slashing to the hoop and popping from outside, Coupeville’s dominant post players, Carolyn Lhamon and Nezi Keiper, were the perfect complement, throwing down 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Up 10-7 at the first break, with four players already in the scoring column, the Wolves steadily built the lead from there.

With coach Alex Evans pulling all the right strings, and every player on the floor attacking relentlessly, CMS surged to a 23-12 lead at the half, before shoving the margin out to 35-19 heading into the fourth.

Seven of the 10 players to see action scored, led by the trio in double figures.

Georges, Gustafson, Ryanne Knoblich, and Jill Prince rounded out the attack, with a bucket apiece, while Hayley Fielder, Jordyn Rogers, and Jessenia Camarena also saw floor time.

 

7th grade varsity:

The only loss of the day, but a nail-biter until the end.

“We were always just right there; just needed one more minute!,” said CMS coach Megan Smith. “But proud of the way the girls played.”

The 24-19 loss drops Coupeville’s final record to 2-8, but that’s a bit deceptive.

Smith’s top two scoring threats, Brionna Blouin and Lauren Marrs, only played together six times during the 10-game schedule, as illness had other plans for the Wolf duo.

Tuesday was one of those six games, and they proved how potent they can be when they get a chance to work together.

Marrs went off for a game-high 13, scoring in every quarter and netting a three-ball, while Blouin returned from sick leave to bank in six points in support.

The game was knotted 8-8 after the first quarter, with Marrs having already scored in every possible way, hitting a trey, a field goal, and a free-throw.

The offense slowed down a bit in the second quarter, with Granite holding a 6-2 advantage, and that would prove to be a killer for the Wolves.

The two teams battled almost evenly across the final 14 minutes of the season, but the Tigers stretched the lead ever so slightly with a 6-5 third frame, before the teams closed with a 4-4 stalemate in the final quarter.

Smith got quality floor time for every one in uniform, with Jackie Contreras, Reese Wilkinson, Allison Nastali, Erica McGrath, Kaitlyn Leavell, Desi Ramirez, Skylar Parker, and Kayla Arnold chipping in with defense and hustle.

 

8th grade JV:

Someone check what Jessenia Camarena had for breakfast, because she was unstoppable.

Pouring in a season-high nine points in just two quarters, the defensive dynamo transformed into an offensive whirlwind, pacing Coupeville to an 11-8 win.

The victory, which comes after the  JV had to sit out back-to-back games, thanks to other schools battling their own spring cold and flu season, lifts the Wolves final record to 3-5.

While she got a bit of help from Claire Mayne, who slipped through the Granite defense for a first-quarter bucket, this was Camarena’s game, from start to finish.

She tossed in two buckets to go with Mayne’s basket, as CMS built a 6-2 lead after one quarter of action.

Not content to stop there, Camarena knocked down another field goal, and a three-ball, to account for all of Coupeville’s scoring in the second, and final, frame.

Setting her up for the offensive explosion were her teammates, who harassed the Granite ball-handlers and hit the boards with intensity.

Karyme Castro, Abigail Ramirez, Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson, Adrian Burrows, Prince, Rogers, McGrath, and Contreras rounded out the active roster.

 

Final scoring totals for the 2019 season:

 

8th varsity:

Carolyn Lhamon – 71
Alita Blouin – 65
Nezi Keiper – 63
Maddie Georges – 62
Gwen Gustafson – 25
Ryanne Knoblich – 16
Hayley Fiedler – 10
Jill Prince – 6
Trinity McGee – 2
Jordyn Rogers – 2

 

7th varsity:

Brionna Blouin – 74
Lauren Marrs – 62
Desi Ramirez – 17
Reese Wilkinson – 8
Erica McGrath – 6
Kayla Arnold – 2
Ava Mitten – 2
Allison Nastali – 2
Skylar Parker – 2

 

8th JV:

Jessenia Camarena – 17
Trinity McGee – 11
Claire Mayne – 10
Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson – 9
Adrian Burrows – 8
Cristina McGrath – 8
Ryanne Knoblich – 6
Karyme Castro – 4
Melanie Navarro – 4
Jill Prince – 3
Jordyn Rogers – 3

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