Posts Tagged ‘Izzy Wells’

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.”


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.

Read Full Post »

Coupeville freshman Izzy Wells was a beast in her high school softball debut Tuesday, sparking an incredible come-back win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No one saw this coming. No one.

And if you say you did, you’re a cock-a-doodie liar.

I mean, let’s be honest here, there was a time Tuesday afternoon when I already had this Coupeville High School softball story mostly written in my head, and it was going to be a lot different than what you’re about to read.

It was going to be about a rebuilding team coming out on Opening Day, facing a rival with a big win already to its credit, and having the kind of struggles you often have in that kind of situation.

We would have reached down, plucked out the tale of Ms. Unflappable, freshman hurler Izzy Wells, and focused on that primarily, as a way to ease the rawness of a lopsided loss.

Maybe we would have talked about some truly, jaw-droppingly awful calls by the umpiring crew, but, ultimately, we would have looked for some kind of silver lining.

And then the world turned upside down.

Three outs away from being ten-runned, three outs away from absorbing a dispiriting loss, the Wolves, to a player, stood up and pulled off a stunning reversal of fortune like maybe none I’ve ever seen in 29 years of on-and-off sports writing.

You can look at the box score, see Coupeville beat Friday Harbor 18-17 — yes, that was really the score — and have no freakin’ clue of how wild, weird, wacky and, ultimately, wonderful, this one was.

So, let me try and give you some kind of clue, even as my own brain keeps doing dizzy laps around the inside of my noggin, screaming like a 10-year-old jacked out of his mind on Mountain Dew and Pop Rocks.

I mean, we’re talking about a game in which Coupeville trailed 9-0, 12-2, and, finally, 16-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.

A game in which the Wolves didn’t get a hit until the fourth inning.

A game in which CHS led once, and only once, on the final swing of the game, as senior catcher Sarah Wright delivered the latest in a four-year run of crafting epic prairie moments.

A game in which the biggest performance, without question, came from a freshman making her high school softball debut, but also a game in which all 12 Wolf hitters got on base, often at crucial times.

Racing the setting sun, Coupeville’s diamond women did the impossible, brought a standing-room-only crowd to delirium, and sent a shell-shocked Friday Harbor squad off on a very long, and probably very tear-stained, bus and ferry trip home.

The visiting Wolverines had opened their season by clubbing always-scary Lynden Christian, and they came out bats smoking against CHS hurlers Scout Smith and Chelsea Prescott.

Coupeville is in transition, with Katrina McGranahan, its pitching ace the past four years, now sitting in the front row of the bleachers, offering quiet, sage advice to the group following in her large footsteps.

Smith and Prescott didn’t pitch all that badly over the first two innings-plus, with Smith whiffing three and Prescott setting Friday Harbor hitters back on their heels.

But, the Wolverines benefited from some dubious calls, which prompted one fan to inquire if the ump had gotten two glass eyes installed at their last visit to the eye doctor.

One play in particular, on which Wright came up firing and nailed a runner leaning off first, was textbook fraud.

The throw to teammate Veronica Crownover was so on the money, the tag so flawlessly applied, every person this side of Texas could see the runner was out.

Including the runner herself, and the Friday Harbor coach at first-base.

But, in the first of 27 times Coupeville coach Kevin McGranahan was gutted in one afternoon, both umps publicly admitted they couldn’t see the play, while calling the runner safe.

Howlers like that set the table, but give the visitors credit for using their lumber to deliver bone-crunching hits, as Friday Harbor surged out to a 12-2 lead midway through the third inning.

A two-run home-run to deep left field was seemingly the bow on the present the Wolverines were crafting for their coaching staff, but then Wells came stomping into the game to play a very-popular Grinch.

A star in little league, who has gone on to have successful high school volleyball and basketball seasons, the middle child belonging to Lyle and Katy Wells looked a hair nervous as she took the ball from Kevin McGranahan.

With a runner at second, nobody out, and a 10-run deficit, few were expecting the moment to be much more than a chance to give the youngster a taste of high school varsity ball.

Wright, once a raw, but talented 14-year-old herself, is now a seasoned old pro, albeit one who still delights in loudly leading every sing-along chant from the bench.

As their coach departed, she leaned in, whispered something to Wells, then grinned, the kind of smile which covers the prairie, whacked her mitt lightly against her young teammate’s arm and headed back to the plate, showering her newest battery mate with a wave of confidence.

Two pitches later, the transformation was complete.

Wells body language noticeably changed, her back went straighter, her pitches started to hum, and, whether they knew it or not, the Wolves were on the comeback trail.

She whiffed the second batter she faced, escaped the inning, struck out the side in the fourth, and chucked five impressive innings of relief.

Bolstered by their fab frosh, the Wolves, after racking up nine walks, finally broke through with their bats.

When it came, it came all at once, with three straight base-knocks — Chelsea Prescott smoking a two-run triple to left, Wright mashing an RBI triple, then Mollie Bailey crunching an RBI single to center.

Back within 12-6, there was hope … and then it was seemingly gone.

A couple of soft hits which found teeny-tiny holes in the defense helped Friday Harbor inch back out to a 16-6 lead, and things looked bleak once more as the bottom of the sixth approached.

Of ye of little faith.

Three straight walks to open the sixth juiced the bags, a passed ball brought one home, then Wright cranked a two-run single and scampered home when a throw to second skipped wildly away from the shortstop.

Crownover eked out a walk, Wells stroked a single to left, and it was time for the other freshman to get dramatic.

Having made her varsity debut a mere half hour before, Audrianna Shaw was a wild card, and Friday Harbor never saw her coming.

Leaning into a pitch, she went Incredible Hulk on the ball, mashing a frozen rope to center, where it smacked the top of the madly running fielder’s glove and skipped away.

With the lead cut to 16-12, Coupeville went for the KO, only to see their foes dodge the punch when Prescott’s long shot to left with the bags full was run down.

It mattered not, however, as the improbable had become the possible.

Even though Friday Harbor scraped out a run in the seventh to go up 17-12, the air felt different.

Some would say it was just the already-cold weather being affected by the sun sinking over the horizon. Others are more poetic.

Coupeville sent 10 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, and the final nine reached base.

The big blow was a rocket launched into left by Crownover, a booming double which tore the cover off the screaming, pleading ball and plated a runner.

Equally important were four consecutive bases-loaded walks, with Shaw, Smith, Emma Mathusek, and Prescott bringing teammates home while displaying eagle eyes at the plate.

That set up Wright, the four-year starter, the four-year hitting sensation, she of the voice run raspy after three-plus hours of screamin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’ and singin’ and laughin’ her head off.

The slump of the pitcher’s shoulders told the tale, almost as much as the way Wright rolled to the plate, lofting her bat onto her shoulder and licking her lips in anticipation.

Friday Harbor’s hurler whipped a good pitch — the best she had thrown all inning — but, with one final laugh, Wright crushed her hopes and dreams, whipping a walk-off hit back up the middle.

Scout Smith came flying home, giving dad Chris, whose CHS baseball team had to postpone its game due to illness, a chance to pump his fists in the air and go home happy.

All across the prairie, bedlam rained.

Bad calls were forgotten, early struggles placed to the side, and, while it’s just one win, in the first game of a 20-game regular-season schedule, its impact could be monumental.

“Just a great game, by a group of girls who never gave in!,” Kevin McGranahan said. “Give Izzy a lot of credit, for coming in and holding them down. Really good first game for her, and Audri, too.”

Coupeville finished with eight hits and 20 walks, with Smith and Mathusek eking out five free passes apiece.

Senior sluggers Wright (1B, 3B) and Crownover (2B, 2B) led the hit attack, with Prescott (3B), Shaw (3B), Wells (1B), and Bailey (1B) also connecting on base-knocks.

Coral Caveness collected two walks, while Chloe Wheeler, Nicole Laxton, and Mackenzie Davis all walked as well, as every Wolf in uniform reached base.

Read Full Post »

Current Wolves Julie Bucio (back) and Coral Caveness are joined by a cheer captain of the future. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Morgan Stevens lays the beat down.

Aram Leyva is ready for his close-up, Emma Mathusek (center) gets ready to fire right back with her own camera, and Lucy Sandahl pretends like none of this is happening.

Hoops star Ja’Kenya Hoskins infiltrates the CHS band.

Izzy Wells rocked so hard, her hair stood up and saluted.

Maya Toomey-Stout’s radar goes off whenever pesky paparazzi get too close.

One photo, mega star power, as (back, l to r) Megan Behan, Genna Wright and Sarah Wright hang out with Kayla Rose.

“You know GENNA WRIGHT?!?!?!? Can you get her autograph for me??????”

A little bit of everything.

That’s what we have to offer today, as wanderin’ photo clicker John Fisken delivers a mix of cheer, band, and fan pics from Friday’s home hoops doubleheader.

To stay on top of everything he snaps, pop over to https://www.johnsphotos.net, where he’s always happy to sell you some glossies.

Read Full Post »

Wolf big man Ulrik Wells jabs towards the hoop, on his way to slapping home another bucket. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Abby Mulholland: “You have one job, Mr. Ball. Get in the hoop and maybe I’ll take you out for ice cream afterwards.”

Carl Henri Chapman gets sandwiched by Wolf defenders Logan Martin (15) and Sage Downes.

Mollie Bailey: “I said I’ll pass you the dang ball when you get open … and not before!”

Sean Toomey-Stout seemingly swoops high enough to touch the speakers.

Just like her big brother, Izzy Wells is a bucket-scoring beast.

So close.

With four Coupeville High School basketball teams playing at home Friday, photographer John Fisken netted shots of two-thirds of one of Wolf Nation’s brightest trios of athletes.

Big bro Ulrik Wells and middle sister Izzy can both be seen above, providing perfect end caps to our lil’ photo essay.

That leaves us just missing the supernova herself, younger sister Savina, who was busy cartwheeling through the stands while counting down the days until she can join her siblings in a CHS uniform.

So, something for Fisken to add to his bucket list – snap all three Wells hoops stars in the same day.

Dream big, I say.

Anyway, to see everything else he shot, even those of the non-Wells variety, pop over to:

Girls — https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2018-2019-boys-and-girls/GBB-2019-01-18-vs-South-Whidbey/

Boys — https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2018-2019-boys-and-girls/BBB-2019-01-18-vs-South-Whidbey/

And, when you do, remember that any and all purchases help fund scholarships for deserving CHS senior student/athletes.

Read Full Post »

Lily Leedy snagged six steals Friday, as Coupeville’s JV girls routed South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Three seconds.

High school basketball is a 32-minute game, but the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball team didn’t need the full time Friday to put its game on ice.

Scoring in three ticks of the clock, with Ja’Kenya Hoskins deflecting the opening tip to Anya Leavell, who hit Audrianna Shaw in stride for a wham-bam-game-over bucket, the Wolves made their intentions clear.

After that, it was nothin’ but good times, as Coupeville blew out to a 25-1 lead at the half before pulling back and settling for a 35-7 thrashing of visiting South Whidbey.

With the season sweep of their next door neighbors, the Wolf JV rises to 4-2 in North Sound Conference action, 7-6 overall.

Next up for the CHS second unit is a rematch Monday against Oak Harbor, another Whidbey team it also blew out the first time around.

The home non-conference tilt tips at 3 PM.

Facing a South Whidbey squad which is in rebuilding mode, Coupeville put the hammer down and did it quickly.

Using a press powered by Hoskins, Shaw, Leavell, Izzy Wells, and Mollie Bailey, CHS turned steal after steal into layups and short buckets.

The Wolves finished with an astonishing 34 steals on the night, with Leavell making off with nine.

Wells and Lily Leedy were coming up fast behind the fab frosh, picking Falcon ball-handlers six times apiece, while Hoskins made off with five.

“They covered the floor really well, working together to weave a web that South Whidbey couldn’t break through,” said CHS coach Amy King.

“Once we started substituting, and getting up a little more, we stayed aggressive but pulled back on the press.”

South Whidbey came dangerously close to being shut out in the first half, finally dropping a single free throw through the net in the final 30 seconds of the second quarter.

The Wolves slowed their roll a bit after the break, settling for a 10-6 advantage in the second half, but got big play from everyone on the bench.

“We started subbing and with each new rotation, came the same energy, the same teamwork,” King said.

Leedy was a firecracker, mixing steals with kick-outs to her open teammates for shots.

And she wasn’t the only one.

Alana (Mihill) always plays such great defense and tonight was no different,” King said. “Morgan (Stevens) was strong on defense, stopping drives and rebounding with a “Nicole (Laxton)-like” fierceness.

Kylie (Van Velkinburgh) helped where needed, as a post but helping with the ball,” she added. “Hurting with shin splints that just won’t go away, she had a hand up to discourage shots, directed teammates and took shots when open.”

Two late plays brought the Wolf faithful to their feet.

On the first, Abby Mulholland, working down low in the key, sucked the defense in, then found Stevens with a “brilliant pass” to set up a crowd-pleasing bucket.

As the clock ticked down on the game, Wells, who was a one-woman wrecking crew with 11 points, 14 rebounds, six steals, three assists and two blocks, ended things with emphasis.

South Whidbey had a perfect pass into the corner on the game’s final play, got the shot off and … WHAM!!!

Wells, “the quiet assassin,” rejected the ball and had “that perfect solid block to end the game.”

Shaw, who played “a very strong game” with “outstanding defense,” was also a terror on the offensive side of the ball, scoring a game-high 12 to go with the 11 by Wells, while Mulholland ruffled the nets for five points.

Bailey (3), Leavell (2), and Stevens (2) rounded out the offense, with Hoskins snatching six boards.

Ja’Kenya always makes an impact on the court,” King said. “She ripped rebounds, made passes and adds an energy that lifts her teammates up.

“As a coach, I can say I was very proud of every one of them,” she added. “They put together their most complete game all season.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »