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Camden Glover was superb on the mound Friday for Central Whidbey Little League, whiffing 11 batters in a one-run game. (Photo courtesy Stevie Glover)

Not the end, the beginning. (Carron Chernobieff photo)

The season ended, not with a whimper, but with a mighty roar.

The Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball team may have come out on the short end of a 3-2 thriller Friday with arch-rival South Whidbey, but the Wolves walked off the field at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park having fully earned the respect of everyone in attendance.

Playing its fourth contest in five days, and a third-straight elimination game, Central Whidbey came dangerously close to upending its highly-touted foes and advancing to the title game of the District 11 All-Star tournament.

The loss left the Wolves with a 12-8 record on the season, including a 2-2 mark this week as they captured 3rd place in a six-team tourney.

South Whidbey, 3-1 in tournament play, advances to face Burlington (3-0) and its 6-foot-3 pitching ace Saturday afternoon.

The future Falcons have to win twice against the off-Islanders to claim the double-elimination tourney title and a trip to state.

While Central Whidbey won’t be going to the big dance this season, the only team in the tourney to have drawn its players from just one regular-season team fought like the dickens.

And Friday’s finale, while bittersweet, was huge, as the Wolves pulled a 180-degree turn from how they played when they lost to South Whidbey in Monday’s tourney opener.

That game was 6-0, but it felt more like 200-0, as the first 11 Central Whidbey hitters struck out and the team could do little offensively.

Friday night was a different tale, and it started with CWLL coach Jon Roberts winning the coin flip and snatching home field advantage for his squad.

Charging out of a different dugout then on Monday, the Wolves responded much like the squad which KO’d Sedro-Woolley and Anacortes in back-to-back elimination games Wednesday and Thursday night.

Camden Glover strode to the mound as Central’s starting pitcher, and he was as good as any hurler has been in this tourney.

After carefully parceling out innings between their pitchers in previous games, the Wolf coaching staff was able to sit back and watch one blossom into a full-on ace on this sunny, slightly windy evening.

Glover dominated, whiffing the side in the top of the first and eventually finishing with 11 K’s in just under five innings of work.

He had a one-hit shutout through four innings, and gave his team a fighting chance against a very-solid South Whidbey lineup.

The few times Glover let the ball get into play in the early going, his defense was there to immediately clamp down on any and everything.

First-baseman Landon Roberts made a nice scoop and dash to the bag on one unassisted play, then stretched out to pull in a throw coming in hot from shortstop Chase Anderson on a hard-hit grounder.

But, as good as Glover was, he was matched by South Whidbey’s main man on the mound, Kasen Parsell.

The precise and powerful rival hurler escaped danger twice, got nicked once, then got progressively stronger as the game played out.

Central Whidbey got on the base-paths much quicker this time around, with lead-off hitter Jack Porter slashing a shot to the side of the shortstop, then bolting to first to beat the incoming throw.

One out later, Anderson zinged a base-knock to center, followed by a passed ball which put Wolves at second and third with just one out.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Parsell bore down and rang up back-to-back strikeouts, then turned around and dodged another bullet in the bottom of the second.

That time, the Wolves used a single from John Rachal and a walk to Jordan Bradford to once again put two runners aboard, only to see it come to naught.

Rachal’s thunderous hit could have been extra bases, should have been extra bases, but the South Whidbey shortstop made a superb dive to snare the ball.

While he couldn’t get back to his feet in time to nail Rachal, who was churning down the line like mad, it did limit the Wolf slugger to just one base.

Central’s second attempt at a rally died a premature death when Parsell blew the ball past a Central slugger for an inning-ending out, but the feeling in the air was different than it had been on Monday.

And it paid off in the bottom of the third, an inning in which the Wolves didn’t get a hit, but still scored both of their runs.

Aiden O’Neill opened the frame by taking a wayward pitch off his body, earning hoots and hollers of appreciation from the Central Whidbey Little League softball players in attendance.

A booted ball on a hard skipper off Anderson’s bat put two runners aboard for the third straight time, while an error on a liner by Johnny Porter finally brought the game’s first score around.

Looking for an insurance run, Glover dropped the prettiest sacrifice bunt imaginable.

The ball plopping off his bat, it crawled down the first-base line, staying well fair, as Anderson came streaking across the plate before a single South Whidbey fielder could get close to the wobbling orb.

The game remained 2-0 until the top of the fifth, Glover and Parsell going mano a mano, bobbing and weaving, fastballs blazing into their respective catcher’s mitt time and again.

But South Whidbey is a very good team, one with a roster filled with state tournament veterans, and they did what good teams do – found a way to win.

A single and a hit batter put two aboard in the fifth, while Glover’s 11th strikeout and a strong catch in center by Jack Porter slapped two outs on the scoreboard.

With the game hanging in the balance, and parents on both sides hyperventilating, South Whidbey’s #3 and #4 hitters, Parsell and Grady Davis, came through in the clutch.

Back-to-back doubles, with the second one plating the tying and go-ahead runs, were a crippler for Central Whidbey, and justifiable cause for an explosion of cheering from the visitor’s bench.

The Wolves swapped out Glover for closer Chase “The Magic Man” Anderson at that point, and he ended the inning on a strikeout.

But not before South Whidbey’s coach made a classy gesture, walking towards Glover as he headed out to replace Anderson at shortstop, leaning in and telling the tired Wolf pitcher, “You pitched a great game. A great game.”

While Parsell deserved the win, retiring the final nine Wolves he faced in order, Glover’s performance, coming in a pressure-packed game on the biggest stage he’s been on, should not be forgotten.

His season, and the ones put together by teammates Marcelo Gebhard, Jack Porter, Bradford, Alex Smith, Jacob Schooley, Rachal, Johnny Porter, O’Neill, Anderson, and Roberts, were marked by wins and big plays.

But also by resilience, hard work and a willingness to sacrifice for each other and the good of the team.

It was a season to remember, and a finale which offers much promise for the future of Coupeville baseball.

Friday’s bout, simply put, was everything you hope to see in an elimination game.

One side walks away a bit happier, yes, but, on the first night of the tourney where there was just one game being played, both teams rose to the moment.

As they go forward, barring family moves, or athletes choosing soccer in the spring (boo! hiss! and boo again!), many of these players should face off time and again on the diamond as they age from eager little league players to grizzled high school veterans.

Whether they were a “winner” or a “loser” Friday night, may they never forget this game.

A night when both teams, and every player, fought with everything they had and exited having shown respect for themselves, their opponents, and the game itself.

Win or lose, this wasn’t an end for anyone. It’s just the beginning.

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The CWLL Majors baseball squad can have plenty more celebrations like this, if the Wolves reignite their bats. (Carron Chernobieff photo)

The bats went silent at the worst possible moment.

Unable to muster any kind of sustained offensive attack Monday, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball squad fell 6-0 to arch-rival South Whidbey in the opening game of the District 11 All-Stars tourney.

While the loss drops the Wolves to 10-7 on the season, they’re still alive in the six-team, double-elimination royal rumble.

Central Whidbey returns to Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park Wednesday to face either Burlington-Edison or Sedro-Woolley in a loser-out game.

First pitch, weather permitting, is set for 6 PM.

If the Wolves want to play further into the tournament, which runs through Sunday, they’ll need to find a way to fire-up their bats, and not repeat Monday’s two-hit, 16-strikeout showing at the plate.

“We are just unable at times to get the bat off our shoulders or get a string of swings to make contact,” said Central coach Jon Roberts. “We saw five really good pitchers today, but we just looked flat.”

There was a point mid-way through the game where it looked like Central Whidbey would never make contact, as its first 11 batters all went down swinging.

That finally changed when catcher Chase Anderson thumped a two-out single down the first-base line in the top of the fourth, breaking up a most discouraging day at the plate for the Wolves.

South Whidbey, while finally dinged, struck right back, gunning down Anderson as he tried to steal second, then whiffing five more batters over the final two innings.

The second Central Whidbey hit came courtesy Camden Glover, and it was a beauty.

Hitting with two outs and no one aboard in the fifth, he cranked a shot to right field for a solid base-knock, then scampered to second on a passed ball while John Rachal was hitting.

Rachal smoked a shot on the next pitch, sending a skipper towards third, but South Whidbey’s defense was air-tight, and that was it for any hint of offense from the Wolves.

While it couldn’t generate any runs, Central Whidbey stayed in the game thanks to strong pitching and a couple of defensive gems.

South Whidbey scored in each of the first four innings, but couldn’t push across more than two runs in any frame.

Keeping things tamped down, the Wolves came up with back-to-back big plays in the field in the bottom of the second.

With two runners aboard and no one out, Central Whidbey thwarted a rally, thanks to Anderson making something out of nothing.

A pitch from Wolf hurler Landon Roberts got loose, but his catcher spun, chased down the ball, then whirled and pegged a near-perfect throw right into Glover’s mitt at third.

Ball kissed leather, the tag was slapped with precision, and what looked like a potential back-breaker of a play turned into a positive moment for Central Whidbey in about two blinks of an eye.

On the next play Jack Porter came crashing in from center field, went to his knees, then made a superb catch on a rapidly-falling ball which had extra bases written all over it.

Those plays, and a well-timed relay later in the game, which broke up a double steal and nailed an incoming runner at home, gave Wolf fans something to cheer about.

That, and effective work from a four-pack of pitchers.

Roberts carried the brunt of the workload, toeing the rubber through the first 2.1 innings, before Porter, Glover, and Anderson combined to share the final 2.2 frames.

All four Wolf pitchers recorded two strikeouts apiece, with Central Whidbey putting together a rare four-strikeout inning in the third.

Roberts and Porter split the K’s, but on the first one, the third strike got away from Anderson and the batter broke for first.

Once again the Wolf catcher made an alert, head-ups play, though this time he wasn’t rewarded.

Snatching up the bouncing ball, Anderson lunged and appeared to have tagged South Whidbey’s slugger from behind. But, after a long discussion, the game’s three umps declined to give him the call.

Now that they’re in the playoffs, the Wolves will likely be out-manned at every step along the way.

While South Whidbey has two teams to combine into one all-star squad, North Whidbey has four, and all the off-Island programs boast large talent pools, Central Whidbey has 11 players, total.

Aiden O’Neill, Johnny Porter, Marcelo Gebhard, Jordan Bradford, Alex Smith, and Jacob Schooley round out the Wolf roster.

Which doesn’t mean Central Whidbey has to go down without a fight. The key will be how big a fight it chooses to generate.

As the Wolves prepare for Wednesday’s game, their coaching staff wants to see a game-long effort which matches the intensity shown on that dropped third-strike play by their catcher.

“That’s what we talked about after the game,” Jon Roberts said. “They have to want this, they have to have that desire to win at all costs.

“They have to be willing to dive for every ball, hustle on every play, make some noise, show some life out there.”

And getting a few hits wouldn’t hurt, either.

 

South Whidbey’s unsung MVP:

While the future Falcons got stellar work from a wide variety of players, we’re honoring Alexander Zarifis, whose dad Steve is the South Whidbey coach.

The plucky younger Zarifis had the friendliest fan club of any rival player, plus he showed a laser-like focus while warming up a teammate in between innings.

Said fan club, led by older sister Caitlin, who appeared in many a production of The Nutcracker with Coupeville dance royalty like Skyy Lippo, did its best hootin’ and hollerin’ as Alexander worked next to the left field fence.

Eyes hidden behind his sun glasses, he was having none of it, however, whipping the ball back and forth, ignoring his family’s efforts to make him blush.

Kid’s a freakin’ Terminator, he is. Just the way his dad/coach probably likes it.

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When you introduce yourself to the umpire. “I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick!” (Jackie Saia photo)

The bats have spoken, one more time.

Cracking 20 runs for the sixth time this spring, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball team rained down sweet destruction on yet another foe.

This time out, the rival was the North Whidbey Dragons, and they fell hard, losing 20-2 Tuesday to the sweet-swingin’, home plate-tappin’ Hammerheads.

With the victory, Central Whidbey rises to 11-1 on the season, having outscored opposing teams 199-52.

There was a moment – a very brief moment – when North Whidbey looked like it had a chance, as the visitors slapped two runs on the scoreboard in the top of the first at Rhododendron Park.

That changed, rapidly, as the Hammerheads responded with nine runs in their half of the first, before tossing in another 11 runs in the second inning, just for good measure.

North Whidbey could do very little against Central’s one-two combo in the pitcher’s circle, as Hammerhead hurlers Chloe Marzocca and Allison Nastali combined for five strikeouts in three innings of work.

Meanwhile, the only thing which could slow down CWLL at the plate was the fact the mercy rule went into effect after the top of the third, preventing the Hammerheads from hitting a third time.

Nastali pounded out three hits to lead the Central offense, while Marzocca added two, and Jada Heaton, Brionna Blouin, Katie Marti, Mia Farris, and Madison McMillan smacked a base-knock apiece.

The Hammerheads also picked up 12 walks, with Teagan Calkins, Taylor Brotemarkle, Mayleen Weatherford, and Aleksia Jump getting aboard that way.

All 11 Central Whidbey players scored at least once, as Nastali and McMillan zipped across home three times each.

Things get a little different in the coming days, as the Hammerheads host a four-team, double-elimination “Softball Classic” featuring teams from all sections of the Island.

Games run from Thursday, May 16, through Wednesday, May 22 (if the championship goes to two games) and pit Central Whidbey against South Whidbey, as well as both North Whidbey teams, the Bandits and Dragons.

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“Who’s the best softball team in the North Sound Conference?”

“We are!!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

We’re #1.

Most likely.

Capping a wild regular season, the Coupeville High School softball team thrashed host South Whidbey 18-5 Tuesday, giving them a three-game season sweep of their Island rivals.

With the victory, the Wolves clinch at least a share of the North Sound Conference title, and put themselves in position to be the league’s #1 seed to districts.

The Wolves, who have won eight of their last 10 games, finish 9-3 in league play, and are 12-7 overall heading into the postseason, which starts May 16.

Coupeville won’t know for sure until Thursday if they are the #1 or #2 seed to districts.

That day Granite Falls (8-3, 11-7) travels to Sultan (1-10, 1-13) and Cedar Park Christian (8-3, 13-4) hosts South Whidbey (2-9, 5-12).

Here are the possible outcomes, with Coupeville earning the #1 playoff seed in three of four scenarios:

**Granite and CPC lose = Coupeville is undisputed league champs.

**Granite wins, CPC loses = Coupeville finishes in a tie with Granite.

Tigers get #1 seed based on tiebreaker, thanks to beating Wolves in two of three games.

**Granite loses, CPC wins = Coupeville finishes in a tie with CPC.

Wolves get #1 seed, since they took two of three against Eagles.

**Granite and CPC win = it’s a three-way tie for the title.

Head-to-head tiebreakers don’t work here, as each team won two of three against one foe, while losing two of three against the other opponent.

In this scenario, the most likely of the four, the seeding decision comes down to a blind draw done before the season by league AD’s.

And this is where it gets golden for Coupeville, since Willie Smith beat the odds and pulled the best number, which would make CHS the #1 seed.

However it breaks down Thursday, the Wolves are headed to the playoffs with a full head of steam.

Tuesday, CHS came out locked and loaded offensively and defensively, racking up 13 hits while also pulling off a season-best three double plays in the field.

The game started with one kind of splat — Wolf lead-off hitter Scout Smith being drilled with a wayward pitch — and ended with another, as Coupeville blew up the scoreboard for eight runs in the final inning.

Before the sting of being bonked had time to ease, Smith was on the move around the base-paths.

The Wolf junior scooted to second in a hurry when South Whidbey bobbled an Emma Mathusek grounder, before shooting home on an RBI single smacked sharply to left by Chelsea Prescott.

An out later, it was time for Mollie Bailey to remind folks that while her family has been anchored on the Coupeville prairie for decades, she’s more than willing to tear it up all over the Island.

Turning viciously on the ball, she paddled the offering back up the middle, skipping it between defenders and sending Mathusek and Prescott scrambling for home.

With Smith tossing BB’s from the pitcher’s circle, Coupeville carried the 3-0 lead into the top of the third, then tacked on a few more runs.

The first run came around thanks to an absolute laser off of the bat of Wolf catcher Sarah Wright, who smoked a double to deep left.

The next score might have been even better, because it came after South Whidbey intentionally walked the scariest batter they’ve known this season.

Wolf first-baseman Veronica Crownover smashed fences-clearing home runs in both the previous games this season between the Island rivals, and the Falcons were feeling a bit gun-shy in their third tango.

Twice Tuesday they waved her to first base on intentional passes, then breathed deep sighs of relief as she stopped twisting her bat o’ death, gave the Falcon hurler a long, quietly-menacing stare, then jogged down to first-base.

Your season totals for South Whidbey pitchers: three intentional walks to Crownover, counting one in an earlier game, but none to a single other Wolf.

The Falcons still paid in the third inning, though certainly not with the same sting a grand-slam would have offered.

Mackenzie Davis, following Crownover to the plate, whipped a low, blistering shot off the pitcher’s mitt, plating one Wolf, then Nicole Laxton sent a final run across the plate on a ground-out, garnering the first of her four RBI in the game.

Up 6-0, Coupeville was humming, but hit a brief bit of trouble in the third.

Rallying from two outs and nobody aboard, the Falcons strung together three straight hits and put their own three-spot on the scoreboard.

But, while it was a stumble, it was a brief one.

The Wolves answered right back in the fourth, with Laxton crushing a two-out, two-run single to stretch the margin back to 8-3, before the entire team started throwing down stellar defensive plays.

The first came from Smith, who moved to second base in the fourth, with freshman Izzy Wells stalking to the pitcher’s circle to take the ball.

Smith pulled off a nifty double-play to end the bottom of the inning, snagging a hot chopper, tagging a runner trying to sneak by, then pegging the ball deep into Crownover’s mitt.

The two teams exchanged two-run rallies in the fifth, then both went scoreless in the sixth, keeping the Wolf lead semi-safe at 10-5.

Bailey had the big blow in the fifth, walloping a two-run double, while Prescott and Crownover pulled off their own double plays to end the fifth and sixth, respectively.

Prescott scooped up a grounder, jumped on second for one out, then nailed the runner headed to first, all in one fluid move.

Crownover went her one better, moving only a single step for her twin-killing.

Glove snapping up, she yanked a liner out of the air, then nonchalantly stepped backwards and onto the bag at first, subtly waving bye-bye-bye to a Falcon runner who had taken off at bat contact only to find herself stuck in no man’s land.

While Coupeville led the entire way, the five-run margin still might have made for some tight collars, so the Wolves erased any doubts in the top of the seventh.

The first 10 batters in the inning reached base, and South Whidbey didn’t get an out until the field ump went blind and called Prescott out after she beat out a bunt by a good three steps.

Not that it mattered, as the Wolves had pushed eight runs across in the frame at that point, with the biggest hits being yet another RBI single by the smokin’ hot Laxton and a two-run double from Smith.

“We came out and scored in the first and never looked back,” CHS coach Kevin McGranahan said. “They fought us for a little while, but, in the end, we outhit them and played good defense.”

Coupeville spread its offense around, with Prescott (three singles), Wright (two doubles), Bailey (1B, 2B), Mathusek (two singles), and Laxton (two singles) leading the way.

Smith added a double, while Coral Caveness singled.

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Freshman Eryn Wood has been a strong addition to the CHS varsity tennis team this spring. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It gets easier from here on out.

Most likely.

The Coupeville High School girls tennis team has played an odd schedule this spring, thanks to numerous issues, from weather to lack of non-conference foes.

When they have been able to take the court, the Wolves have clashed with two top teams, King’s and South Whidbey, and been stung twice by both schools.

A 5-0 loss at Langley Thursday leaves Coupeville sitting at 0-4 on the season heading into a road match Friday afternoon.

That opponent, Friday Harbor, is also 0-4, and the two schools meet for back-to-back contests today and then on Whidbey Apr. 30.

After that comes Coupeville’s lone non-conference match May 1 at Chimacum (2-11), before a doubleheader May 2 at Granite Falls (3-7).

The North Sound Conference tourney is set for May 7-8, also at Granite Falls, where a long string of tennis courts stretch into the sunset.

After that, if any Wolves qualify, is bi-districts May 17, and state, which goes down May 24-25.

 

Complete Thursday results:

 

Varsity:

1st Singles — Genna Wright lost to Ashley Ricketts 6-2, 6-3

2nd Singles — Jillian Mayne lost to McKenna Kelley 6-0, 6-2

1st Doubles — Tia Wurzrainer/Avalon Renninger lost to Allison Papritz/Mary Zisette 6-0, 6-2

2nd Doubles — Eryn Wood/Emily Fiedler lost to Farriss Jokinen/Ainsley Nelson 6-0, 6-0

3rd Doubles — Jaimee Masters/Abby Mulholland lost to Oliana Stange/Chloe Loehr 6-1, 6-0

 

JV:

4th Doubles — Bruna Moratori/Elaira Nicolle lost to Elizabeth/Erin 8-0

5th Doubles — Katelin McCormick/Noelle Daigneault lost to Annika/Emma 6-1

6th Doubles — Annika Heller/Lola Jimenez lost 6-3

7th Doubles — Mary Milnes/Maddy Andrews lost to Joanie/Jessie 6-1

8th Doubles — Cassidy Holmes/Cecilia Camarena lost to Avery/Ella 7-5

9th Doubles — Moratori/Nicolle lost to Ashley/Sadie 6-0

10th Doubles — McCormick/Daigneault lost 6-4

11th Doubles — Heller/Jimenez lost to Sarah/Kilynn 6-0

12th Doubles — Mortatori/Nicolle lost to Lexi/Maya 6-2

13th Doubles — Milnes/Andrews lost to Drayah/Ali 6-2

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