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River Ozturk, the pride of Turkey, slashed a gorgeous two-run single Saturday as Coupeville softball clinched a league title. (Jackie Saia photos)

Everyone plays.

Everyone contributes.

Everyone celebrates.

As the Coupeville High School softball players belted out their theme song one final time this season, serenading their home fans moments before everyone stormed the line for cupcakes, glimmers of sun poked through the cloudy prairie sky.

On a Saturday afternoon in which CHS coach Kevin McGranahan managed to get 23 girls varsity playing time, the Wolves accomplished much.

They bounced visiting Darrington 8-6 and 16-4 to claim a sweet doubleheader sweep on Senior Night.

They rolled to a 9-0 record in this pandemic-shortened season, with road trips to Friday Harbor and La Conner left on the schedule.

They gave their veterans a superb send-off, while also offering their young players — many of whom lost a season to COVID last spring — a chance to learn under fire.

And, they emphatically clinched the Northwest 2B/1B League title, meaning that McGranahan, wife Justine, and Ron Wright have led the Wolf diamond program to conference crowns in three different locations.

The NWL title joins ones the trio won in the 1A Olympic League and 1A North Sound Conference.

While the pandemic will prevent Coupeville, or any teams, from pursuing a playoff run, Wolf fans can bask in the glow of a softball program which is winning the right way now, and is set up for a bright future for years to come.

How Saturday played out:

 

Game 1:

Kevin McGranahan is a gamblin’ man.

With Coupeville up 6-0 after one inning, then 8-1 at the end of two, he liberally substituted, including pulling his battery — fireball-flinging pitcher Izzy Wells and rock-solid catcher Mollie Bailey — at least for awhile.

But then Darrington got really, really stingy on defense, and mounted a comeback on offense, while McGranahan gave his future stars a chance to face mounting pressure.

To a point.

Wells and Bailey returned in the final moments, slamming the door shut on a game which provided valuable lessons to Coupeville’s young guns.

Things started off fully in favor of the Wolves, with seniors Chelsea Prescott, Ivy Leedy, Lacy McCraw-Shirron, Heidi Meyers, Coral Caveness, and Bailey all in the starting lineup.

After Wells set Darrington’s first three hitters down on strikeouts, Coupeville went to work, sending 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first.

McCraw-Shirron got things going, zipping down to first after a third strike got away from the Logger catcher, and soon came around to score.

From there, the Wolves used five walks, a Darrington error, and timely hits from Wells and Bella Whalen to blow things open.

Whalen’s base-knock was a bomb — a high, arcing two-run double which, for a hot second or two, looked like it might clear the fence for a round-tripper.

CHS tacked on two more runs in the second, courtesy an RBI double to straight-away center from Bailey, and an RBI single ripped back up the middle by Meyers.

But then the Wolf offense vanished for a bit, at least when it came to scoring.

Coupeville put runners on base in three of the next four innings, only to see Darrington escape each time.

Maya Nottingham had an eventful trip (mostly) around the bases, getting plunked on the foot by a pitch to earn a walk, then blasted by a foul ball off of Prescott’s hyper-charged bat while crouched at third.

She came out of the game after that, with pinch-runner Audrianna Shaw eventually stranded after the Loggers turned a slick double play moments later.

The Wolves had two on in the fourth, after base-knocks from Bailey and Whalen, but like Wells after she walked in the sixth, home base stayed cold and distant to them.

Which was OK, as Wells continued to blaze through Darrington’s lineup.

When Allie Lucero made her high school pitching debut in the top of the fifth, the sophomore pulled off a scoreless inning, getting three different batters to pop up to Prescott at short.

The sixth inning was the stumbling block, however, as some defensive confusion and a lil’ artful bunting from Darrington allowed the Loggers to mount a five-run rally, cutting the lead back to just two runs.

Re-enter Wells to the pitching circle, and exit her foes, as she slammed the door shut, recording the final five outs, including three strikeouts to give her 12 K’s in the game.

 

Game 2:

Time for a new debut.

Maya Lucero, twin sister of Allie, got the pitching start, allowing Wells some time to rest in the shade.

The fourth Wolf pitcher to see game action this season — Gwen Gustafson has also tossed four innings — Maya opened with two perfect innings, struck out three with a little heat of her own, and went the distance in a game halted after five innings.

She also got to watch as her fellow sophomore, Jill Prince, pulled off one of the best defensive plays seen on the Coupeville diamond this spring.

Bouncing on her toes at third, the granddaughter of Murph Cross reacted like a pro when a Darrington hitter lashed a wicked liner in her direction.

Throwing out her mitt, Prince caught 97% of the ball, only to have the speed and fury of the ball carry it up and off her glove.

But, as the ball shot away, headed towards the Wolf dugout, and hearts sank across the prairie, the rising star immediately flung her non-glove hand out, somehow snatching the angry ball right back out of the air before it could reach the exit.

The pretty, pretty play brought a roar of approval from Prince’s coaches, then from a pack of Wolves who stormed their young teammate, heaping praise on her.

Jill Prince, master of the web gem.

At the plate, Coupeville could do no wrong, punching in nine runs in the bottom of the first, before adding four more in the second to put the game on ice early.

Bailey, Caveness (during one of the few at-bats on which she wasn’t plunked by a wayward pitch), and Shaw all had big hits, while the Wolves took advantage of Darrington’s pitching staff losing contact with the strike zone.

On a day in which 18 of Coupeville’s 23 active players reached base, two in particular stood out.

Bailey, who is part of a farming family which stretches back through eons of prairie history, was in her final moments on her hometown field.

From the little girl with long braids who used to hang out in the stands while older sister McKayla thumped big hits, to the brilliant young woman (still with long braids) now terrorizing opposing pitchers, Mollie has always been Mollie.

There’s little doubt she’s a Bailey, with a lot of Engle tossed in for good measure, but she has always marched to her own drum beat.

Literally, as she’s a drummer.

Mollie Bailey, a bona fide prairie legend, went out like a boss, smacking four doubles in her final appearance on the CHS diamond.

Saturday, she went out the way I hoped she would — Mollie being Mollie.

That meant whacking four doubles across two games, while still finding time to lean over the fence and tell her rooting section, “Dude, I have had to like pee for the whole game.”

Meanwhile, River Ozturk is a newcomer to Cow Town, USA, a foreign exchange student from Turkey who had never played softball before pulling on a Coupeville uniform.

Saturday, though, she also got her moment, coming to the plate twice, and reaching base both times.

The first trip, she got a traditional American welcome, as a wayward pitch smacked into her body, earning her a walk.

Next time up, shocking her coaches to the core, she swung like the second coming of Prescott — a lifelong diamond masher — ripping a two-run single to right field as Ron Wright punched the air in approval.

It was that kind of day, with a little something for everyone.

Bailey led the hit parade with her four two-baggers, while Whalen and Prescott added two hits apiece.

Toss in singles from Wells, Shaw, Caveness (who also had five walks), Ozturk, and Meyers, and the base-knock machine was chuggin’ along.

Also reaching base via walks were Sofia Peters, Ivy Leedy, Nottingham, Karyme Castro, Prince, Kylie Van Velkinburgh, Maya Lucero, Mckenna Somes, and Melanie Navarro.

Allison Nastali, Jackie Contreras, Lily Leedy, and Italian foreign exchange student Elisa Caroppo also saw playing time in the home finale.

And a final note of tribute to Prescott, who, along with Bailey, has the most seniority of Coupeville’s seniors.

Chelsea Prescott, enjoying every moment.

A splendid three-sport athlete who spent her little league days on the baseball diamond before transitioning to softball in high school, Chelly is as talented as any athlete to pass through CHS in recent years.

But I hope she is also remembered for the joy she takes in playing, which was never more evident than when she bounced from her home at shortstop to play catcher for a few innings.

Prescott asked her coach for the chance to try something new, and practically danced back on the field when McGranahan told her she could stay behind the plate.

Talking to herself after each pitch, sometimes laughing at her limited knowledge of the position (yet picking up a lot of the nuances super-fast), she would fire the ball back into Maya Lucero’s mitt, a huge smile visible under the mask.

Prescott’s bat, her wheels, her glove, and her fire, have assured she will be remembered as one of the best to wear the CHS softball uniform.

But Saturday, in her final moments in front of the fans who watched her develop into a star, she reverted back to just being a kid having fun.

What a nice way to exit, for her, and her sisters from other misters.

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Noelle Daigneault and her Coupeville tennis teammates are the 2021 Northwest 2B/1B League champs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Time to hoist another tile.

The Coupeville High School girls tennis team has the most league titles of any sport played at the school, and now coach Ken Stange and Co. can add a new one.

Bouncing host Friday Harbor 5-0 Monday afternoon, the Wolves improved to 4-0 during this pandemic-shortened season, officially clinching the Northwest 2B/1B League crown.

With two matches left in their six-match rumble royal, Coupeville and Friday Harbor — the only NWL schools to play the net game — meet again March 26 and 29.

The first of those remaining matches, set for this Friday on Whidbey Island, is Senior Night for the Wolves.

Monday, the highlight came courtesy of Helen Strelow, who was making her debut as a singles player.

The CHS sophomore split the first two sets of her match, before falling behind 4-1 in the deciding frame.

At that point, Strelow made Stange’s heart soar, reaching down deep to run off five straight games en route to a 6-4 win in the third set.

Also coming up big was Coupeville’s #3 doubles duo, Noelle Daigneault and Sophie Martin, who also pulled out a three-set victory to keep the Wolves flawless on the season.

On their way to 4-0 as a team, the CHS netters have combined to go 20-0 in varsity matches.

 

Complete Monday results:

 

Varsity:

1st Singles — Abby Mulholland beat Allie Fleming 6-3, 6-4

2nd Singles — Helen Strelow beat Lucy Martin 6-4, 1-6, 6-4

1st Doubles — Jaimee Masters/Emily Fiedler beat Liliia Gamez/Emilie Mason 6-2, 6-3

2nd Doubles — Kateline McCormick/Eryn Wood beat Amelia Eltinge/Ava Martin 6-3, 6-3

3rd Doubles — Noelle Daigneault/Sophie Martin beat Lucy Marinkovich/Eleanor Rollins 6-2, 5-7, 10-7

 

JV:

4th Doubles — Lucy Tenore/Hayley Fiedler beat Trinity Cullen/Isabella VanderYacht 8-1

5th Doubles — Vivian Farris/Nozomi Hagihara beat Sonora Tate/Eva Sanabria 8-3

6th Doubles — Hayley Thomas/Gwen Crowder lost to Elanor Gislason/Sidney Herda 6-3

7th Doubles — Tenore/H. Fiedler beat Lilli Turnbow/Annabelle Mountford 6-0

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In the end, they all bow down to Cow Town. (Photo by Shelli Trumbull)

I could be nice and sugar-coat things, but facts are facts.

The 1A Olympic League has come to a close after a four-year run, and the smallest school emerges as the top dog.

Sparked by an extremely strong final spring, in which it won conference crowns in softball, girls track, baseball, girls tennis and boys track, Coupeville High School has stared down Port Townsend, Chimacum, and, especially, Klahowya.

CHS had 227 students in grades 9-11 when the WIAA last did classification counts in 2016, which made it the sixth-smallest 1A school in the state.

That figure has since dropped to 208, which caused Coupeville officials to make a recent plea to drop to 2B which fell on deaf ears.

Klahowya boasted 445.07 students in ’16, making it the second-biggest 1A school in the state.

So, you take what is essentially a 2A school and pit it against what is essentially a 2B school, and what happens?

The lil’ school that could, did.

For the past four years, I have tracked 10 of the 11 varsity sports that the Wolves play.

In this scenario, we ignore track, since trying to figure out team win/loss records when 30 teams show up for a meet is a futile, and brain-injury-causing, endeavor.

So, we take volleyball, football, girls and boys basketball, soccer and tennis, softball and baseball and we watch.

And, in the course of four school years, we see a 24-game swing as one (small) school rises and another (big) school falls.

Varsity win totals:

2014-2015:

Klahowya 51
COUPEVILLE 40
Chimacum 23
Port Townsend 20

2015-2016:

Klahowya 45
COUPEVILLE 42
Chimacum 26
Port Townsend 22

2016-2017:

COUPEVILLE 51
Klahowya 48
Port Townsend 28
Chimacum 25

2017-2018:

COUPEVILLE 52
Klahowya 39
Port Townsend 26
Chimacum 20

Add together the four years and Coupeville beats Klahowya 185-183.

CHS was the only school to post 40 or more varsity wins in each school year, and the only school to post 50 or more wins twice.

To those who say, well, it’s only two games, let’s go back to the first numbers, the student body size — 445.07 vs 227 that became 208.

Klahowya should have dominated, pure and simple, and it didn’t.

In the early days of the league, KSS was the straw which stirred the drink, though the whirlpool created wasn’t anywhere as large as you would have expected.

And give the Eagles soccer teams credit.

The only Olympic League programs to go unbeaten in league play from 2014-2018, their combined 59 wins account for nearly a third of Klahowya’s varsity win total.

But, ultimately, the smallest, scrappiest school took over and made the Olympic League its own.

Coupeville finished with the best league record in four sports, the most of any school — girls tennis, baseball, girls basketball and boys tennis — with girls hoops winning 33 games, most of any program, in any sport.

Better still, CHS was the ONLY school to not finish as the worst in any sport.

Klahowya, by contrast, accrued the top all-time mark in three sports, but finished dead last in three others.

What’s this all mean in the end?

As Coupeville departs for new pastures and new challenges next year in the six-team North Sound Conference, its current rivals can take solace in two facts.

One, you won’t have to listen to me natter on as often (if ever).

And two, you won’t have to lose as often to the Wolves.

So, win-win … sorta.

 

Spring sports standings:

 

Olympic League baseball:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 8-1 14-4
Chimacum 7-2 10-8
Klahowya 2-7 3-14
Port Townsend 1-8 1-14

Olympic League boys soccer:

School League Overall
Klahowya 9-0 13-2-1
COUPEVILLE 5-4 7-7-2
Port Townsend 4-5 4-9-0
Chimacum 0-9 0-14-0

Olympic League girls tennis:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 5-1 7-8
Chimacum 4-2 5-7
Klahowya 0-6 1-14

Olympic League softball:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 3-0 11-5
Klahowya 0-3 9-4

 

And, complete Olympic League records from 2014-2018:

 

Volleyball:

School League
Klahowya 23-7
COUPEVILLE 21-9
Chimacum 10-20
Port Townsend 6-24

Football:

School League
Port Townsend 20-6
Klahowya 16-10
COUPEVILLE 7-19
Chimacum 3-23

Boys Tennis:

School League
COUPEVILLE 15-4
Klahowya 14-6
Chimacum 0-19

Girls Soccer:

School League
Klahowya 29-0
COUPEVILLE 19-11
Port Townsend 6-24
Chimacum 5-24

Girls Basketball:

School League
COUPEVILLE 33-3
Port Townsend 18-18
Chimacum 12-24
Klahowya 9-27

Boys Basketball:

School League
Port Townsend 26-10
Chimacum 17-19
COUPEVILLE 15-21
Klahowya 14-22

Softball:

School League
Chimacum 23-4
COUPEVILLE 17-13
Klahowya 17-13
Port Townsend 0-27

Girls tennis:

School League
COUPEVILLE 20-1
Chimacum 6-15
Klahowya 6-16

Baseball:

School League
COUPEVILLE 26-10
Klahowya 25-10
Chimacum 18-17
Port Townsend 2-34

Boys soccer:

School League
Klahowya 30-0
Port Townsend 18-12
COUPEVILLE 12-18
Chimacum 0-30

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   Freshman hurler Daniel Olson clinched the Olympic League baseball crown for Coupeville Monday with his first, and, so far, only varsity pitch. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One pitch.

That’s all it took for Coupeville High School freshman Daniel Olson to pen his name into Wolf baseball history.

Coming on in relief Monday after starting pitcher Matt Hilborn burned through all 105 pitches he was allowed by state rules, Olson threw more warm-up pitches than game ones.

Not that it mattered, as his one and only heave caused a Klahowya hitter, who was staring at a two-strike deficit when the Wolves were forced to change pitchers, to go down swinging.

And with that final strike and final out, Coupeville capped a 5-0 road win and officially clinched its second Olympic League title in three seasons.

The win, the sixth straight and 10th in their last 11 games for the Wolves, lifts them to 7-1 in conference action, 13-4 overall.

After closing the regular season Wednesday at home against Port Townsend (it’s Senior Night and first pitch is 4 PM), CHS is playoff-bound.

The Wolves open the double-elimination district tourney May 8 in Tacoma.

Coupeville faces the #2 team from the Nisqually League, and will need two wins in three games to advance to state for the first time since 2014.

To see the bracket, pop over to:

http://www.olympicleague.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2654&sport=6

Monday afternoon the Wolves made their final trip to Silverdale a business trip. Get in, win, get out, then celebrate.

And, despite hitting into a rare double play, Coupeville netted the only run it would really need in the top of the first.

With two outs and no one one base, Hunter Smith drew a walk, moved up on a single from Dane Lucero, then scampered home when Klahowya booted a ball off the bat of Jake Hoagland.

Wolf catcher Gavin Knoblich, who has been on a hot streak of late, gunned down an Eagle on the base-paths to get Coupeville out of a small jam in the bottom of the first, then helped CHS add an insurance run.

Knoblich walked, moved around thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Jacob Zettle, then ceded his spot at third to speedy punch-runner Nick Etzell, who bolted home to score on an RBI ground-out from Shane Losey.

Coupeville had a chance to keep the run-scoring binge going in the third, but left Smith aboard after he bashed a one-out double.

Not wanting to repeat the goose egg, however, the Wolves tacked on two runs in the fourth and a final tally in the fifth.

Zettle and Hilborn whacked RBI singles to plate runs, while Hoagland doubled and ambled home on a passed ball to round out the scoring.

While CHS was putting runs on the (nonexistent) scoreboard, Klahowya could get little going against Hilborn, who whiffed six and didn’t give up a hit from the second through the sixth inning.

The Eagles finally got to the Wolf hurler, a bit, putting two on base in the seventh.

That was merely a way for Coupeville to pull off the surprise finale, with Olson coming out of the pen Goose Gossage-style to slam the door.

The Wolves scratched out six hits in the clincher, getting doubles from Smith and Hoagland, as well as singles from Hilborn, Zettle, Dane Lucero and Joey Lippo.

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Ken Stange, tennis guru and racket-waving defender of his player's honor. (John Fisken)

Ken Stange, tennis guru and racket-waving defender of his player’s honor. (John Fisken photo)

It was a day for butt-whuppin’.

First, the Coupeville High School girls’ tennis squad closed out a flawless debut in the 1A Olympic League, crushing host Chimacum 6-1.

The victory, the tenth straight for the Wolves, brought their final record to 11-3 overall, 6-0 in league (they join the CHS girls’ basketball team as league champs during the 2014-2015 school year).

“The girls could have stepped off the gas,” Wolf coach Ken Stange said. “That’s just not how they roll, though.”

Then, as the team headed back to the ferry, with celebratory dinner from Port Townsend’s legendary Waterfront Pizza in hand, the Wolves found themselves the victims of a drive-by mooning by local high school boys.

At which point Stange, racket in hand, chased the ruffians down the town’s main drag, thoroughly freaking out the whippersnappers, who departed in great haste.

Hailed as a champion by his team — who decreed he should be named Player of the Match for his actions — Stange and his squad headed home, where the celebration raged on.

“We’ve been home for more than an hour. I live across the street from the school, and I can still hear a bunch of the girls who are still in the parking lot, whooping and hollering,” Stange wrote on Facebook.

“I love it. This has been the perfect season!”

Complete results:

Varsity:

1st Singles Jacki Ginnings beat Laura De Michelli 6-0, 6-1

2nd SinglesWynter Thorne beat Casi Rowland 6-2, 4-6, 10-8

Wynter dominated in the first, and then was able to hold off the pesky Cowboy player in the third.”

3rd SinglesIvy Luvera beat Amelia Breithaupt 6-1, 7-6(7-5)

1st DoublesPayton Aparicio/Sage Renninger lost to Ray Maki/Sarah Allen 6-1, 6-1

2nd DoublesMicky LeVine/Sydney Autio beat Holly Taylor/Alyssa Wolfe 6-4, 6-4

“These two have been playing well lately, and it was good to see them bag a solid straight set win.”

3rd DoublesMcKenzie Bailey/Jazmine Franklin beat Sophia Thurston/McKenzie Richey 2-6, 6-1, 10-7

“This was a fine match. I was proud of McKenzie and Jazmine for being able to make adjustments and fight adversity.”

4th DoublesAna Luvera/Mckenzie Meyer beat Chloe Patterson/Gladys Hitt 6-3, 6-1

“They were very dominant!”

JV:

Bree Daigneault/Haleigh Deasy beat Christina/Emily 6-4

Hanna Seiffert/Kameryn St Onge beat Christina/Emily 6-3

Maggie Crimmins/Ashley Smith beat Marley/Emma 6-4

Kenzi LaRue/Crimmins lost to Marley/Emma 6-3

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