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Daniel Olson brought the heat on the mound and at the plate Tuesday in a 13-3 Senior Night win. (Morgan White photos)

First they got lucky. Then they got good.

Playing at home for the first time in 18 days, the Coupeville High School baseball squad took advantage of some early miscues Tuesday by visiting Mount Vernon Christian to keep their game close.

Then, once the bats were properly warmed up, the Wolves dropped the hammer, eventually strolling away with a 13-3 win on Senior Night.

With the victory, CHS improves to 6-2 during this pandemic-shortened season, while keeping alive its hopes of winning a Northwest 2B/1B League title.

Coupeville trails Friday Harbor (8-0) — the only team it’s lost to this season — by two games with three to play.

The league’s top two squads tangle Friday afternoon at Friday Harbor, playing a doubleheader with everything on the line.

If the Wolverines sweep or get a split, they clinch the title.

But, if Coupeville earns the sweep, both teams would sit at 8-2, having split their four games, with just one contest left on the schedule.

CHS closes at La Conner (0-7) Saturday, while Friday Harbor hosts Orcas Island (2-5) that day.

However the weekend plays out, the Wolves sent their home fans back to the parking lot with a light skip in their steps.

The win over MVC offered a nice tribute to Daniel Olson, the team’s lone senior, while also providing a superb preview of the damage which could be done by the rest of a very-young roster.

Coupeville coach Will Thayer got something from pretty much everyone, with 10 of 11 hitters reaching base, and freshmen accounting for six of the team’s nine RBI.

The game actually started with a brief burp, as MVC scraped out two runs in the top of the first, thanks to an infield single, two walks, and a brutal collision at home plate.

With the bases loaded and no one out, the Hurricane cleanup hitter bounced a ball up the middle, sending the runner at third barreling home.

As Wolf catcher Xavier Murdy went to pull in the incoming throw, bodies collided awkwardly and the ball squirted free, allowing a second MVC runner to sneak home in the confusion.

The violent entanglement sent a brief chill through any CHS basketball fans in the stands, but X-Man walked off any lingering aftereffects, restoring hope once again on the prairie.

From that point on, the rest of the game went pretty much the way Wolf faithful would have scripted things.

It began with the lanky Olson making a pretty spectacular pickoff move.

Whirling and firing a laser into shortstop Scott Hilborn’s glove, he removed a Hurricane runner who made the mistake of leaning slightly in the wrong direction.

Proving it wasn’t a fluke, the Wolf pitcher later pulled off the same successful pickoff play several innings later, after which time all MVC runners stayed bolted to the base.

Olson and his parents celebrate Senior Night.

The first time through the lineup, Coupeville was scraping a bit, yet generated just enough offense to keep things close.

The Wolves netted a run in the bottom of the first thanks to a couple of MVC mistakes.

Looking a little tentative, the Hurricanes booted a grounder by Sage Sharp, then lost control of a third strike two batters later, letting him scamper home.

Coupeville continued to get lucky, knotting things up 2-2 in the second thanks to the MVC pitcher airmailing a throw over first base on a two-out Sharp bunt.

The Hurricane hurler had time to make the play, but perhaps ruffled by the sound of Murdy blasting by, heading from third to home, his arm refused to work in sync with his brain on the play.

The visitors entertained brief hopes of going on a rampage themselves, edging back ahead 3-2 in the top of the third, before juicing the bags with three straight singles.

The base-knocks went to right, left, and center, at which point Olson tugged on his cap, righted himself, and effectively slammed the door on any upset bids.

Pumping strikes past the flailing Hurricanes, he struck out the next two sluggers to stem the tide, then rolled through the fourth and fifth innings in his final home pitching performance.

Coupeville got back to 3-3 on an RBI single by freshman Peyton Caveness, scoring Olson, who golfed his own hit into left to lead off the bottom of the third.

The game finally broke solidly for CHS in the fourth, however.

It started with Hawthorne Wolfe putting on a one-man show which would be hard to duplicate.

The speed demon leadoff hitter blasted a ball back, back, back, almost to the wall in right field, and was thinking of a triple, while possibly daydreaming of an inside-the-park home run.

Instead, Wolfe came flying around first doing 767.269148 miles per hour (the speed of sound, if you’re curious), then … stepped on something.

He either caught the edge of the first-base bag, or put one of his own feet on top of the other one while going full-tilt, and promptly face-planted, displacing dirt from Oak Harbor to Clinton.

And yet, Wolfe still had the presence of mind to get back up, moving sort of like Rocky Balboa after being hit in the face on 23 consecutive punches, and stagger down to second base before the ball arrived back in the infield.

The should-have-been-a-triple, could-have-been-a-homer, turned-out-to-be-the-year’s-most-entertaining-double got the joint rockin’, and the CHS bats boomin’.

Wolfe finally made it home when MVC booted a fly ball off the bat of Jonathan Valenzuela, then Cody Roberts used a super-sharp eye to earn a bases-loaded walk.

But it was the fab frosh with the big hit.

Caveness sent a low, screaming liner to left to bring two runners home, part of a four-RBI day for Coral’s younger brother.

Xavier Murdy, here to drop thunder and lightning with every swing.

Murdy tantalized the non-paying customers, coming up just inches short of becoming the first Wolf since Josh Bayne to bash a ball over the fence in deepest, darkest left field.

The CHS junior settled for a dramatically-long RBI sac fly, which made it 8-3, then quietly went and strapped his catcher’s gear back on, a pro acting like a pro.

Olson topped off his Senior Night festivities with that second pickoff we discussed earlier, then handed the ball to Valenzuela, who promptly struck out the side in the sixth.

Jonathan Valenzuela, King of K’s.

An RBI single from Olson in the fifth stretched the margin to 9-3, before Coupeville ended things (slightly) early with four more runs in the sixth.

Caveness returned with another RBI base-knock, before the game ended on a truly-gorgeous hit from another fab frosh.

Zane Oldenstadt, pinch-hitting for Coen Killian, proved to be deadly from the left side of the plate, lashing a two-run single which soared over third base, curled in the air, then bit grass on the good side of the left-field line.

It was a bold punctuation mark, especially for a team which has found considerable success, even with six freshmen — Caveness and Cole White started Tuesday — and three sophomores on a 15-man roster.

Add in a strong group of middle school players ready to make the jump to high school ball next spring, and both the present and future of Wolf baseball looks bright.

“We could be dangerous the next few years,” Thayer said with a big smile.

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Natalie Hollrigel and the CHS defense stepped up impressively in the second half Saturday, keying a Wolf comeback against a highly-touted rival. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Vegas odds-makers are not happy.

But Kyle Nelson is.

Blowing up pregame predictions, the Coupeville High School girls soccer team stormed back from two goals down Saturday, against a team which hadn’t been scored on in four straight games, and forced a 2-2 draw.

The tie, coming against a Mount Vernon Christian team which arrived on Whidbey boasting a 5-1 record, and having outscored foes 27-2 across the last five games, felt like a win as the Wolves exited the pitch.

Seeing his team dominate play, especially in the second half, reinforced Nelson’s belief his squad shouldn’t solely be judged on its 0-5-2 record.

With one or two exceptions, Coupeville has been highly-competitive in all of its games, while playing without its top scorer and starting goaltender for much of the season.

With Genna Wright likely gone for the season (she injured her knee in the season opener) and Mollie Bailey returning to the net Saturday — but just for a half — it’s required everyone on the roster to step up.

And the growth Nelson was hoping to see in a relatively young team is arriving.

“We’re finally getting to where we want to be,” he said.

“Our play in the middle third of the field has been solid, and now, after getting in some more practices, and working on our play in the final third, we’re seeing definite progress.”

Mount Vernon Christian hadn’t been touched since a season-opening loss to Cedar Park Christian, and the Hurricanes came out looking like a team intent on winning its sixth-straight game.

Two goals midway through the first half, the second off of a penalty kick which caught a gust of wind and shot over Bailey’s shoulder, staked MVC to a 2-0 lead.

Without Wright as the tip of its spear, Coupeville has struggled to score at times this season, amassing just five goals through its first six games.

But this time the Wolves broke through, as sophomore Eryn Wood beat a pair of defenders, then popped a shot into the right side of the net with three minutes to play in the opening half.

Her first high school goal, it gave the Wolves a genuine spark heading into the locker room, and it showed when CHS returned to the pitch.

Coupeville owned every second of the game’s second 40-minute stretch, peppering the Hurricane goalie with shot after shot, while Bailey’s backup, Samantha Streitler, only had to turn away a shot every 20 minutes or so.

But as many shots as the Wolves were firing, Mount Vernon was doing a nice dance of “dodge the tie,” with its goaltender deflecting shots on both sides of the net.

Her luck finally ran out thanks to her teammates love of physical defense.

Or maybe extra-physical, as the Hurricanes twice wiped out Wolf sophomore Sophia Martin as she careened towards the goal, ball on her foot.

The first time, the ref shrugged his shoulders and walked away with nary a whistle, but the second time the bodies hit the floor, a yellow card came out and Coupeville was awarded a penalty kick.

Taking the in-close shot was the ever-stone cold Avalon Renninger, who slightly arched one eyebrow, let the smallest of smiles slip to just the corner of her mouth, then drilled the snot out of the ball.

It curved past the flailing MVC goalie, found the back of the net, tied the game up, and made a little history.

It was Renninger’s team-leading third goal of the season, and the ninth of her four-year career.

That breaks a tie with big sis Sage, and moves the younger sister into sole possession of fifth-place on the CHS girls soccer career scoring list.

Not content for just a two-goal comeback and a tie against a strong non-conference foe, the Wolves kept their collective foot jammed on the gas pedal, driving it through the floorboards.

But, despite two sizzlin’ Renninger shots, packaged around a booming ball off the foot of Audrianna Shaw, it wasn’t to be.

With the game in stoppage time, the most-irritating of all time in a soccer game since only the ref knows how long he’ll let the “last two minutes” go on, MVC made its first sustained run in nearly 38 minutes.

A ball took a bad hop (for Coupeville) and a Hurricane shooter got away just long enough to fire off one final shot in a bid to drive a stake through the heart of Wolf Nation.

Streitler was in place to make the nab, but she never had to, as the ball sailed harmlessly past on the right side, and the final whistle mercifully tweeted.

Since it was a non-conference game (and soccer…), players exchanged handshakes instead of taking things to overtime and/or penalty kicks.

But, from the way they walked off the field, it was hard not to feel like the Wolves were the better team on this day, regardless of record, and the true winners.

It keeps alive a remarkably successful run against Mount Vernon Christian, as Coupeville girls soccer has gone 5-1-2 against the Hurricanes across the last decade.

Something to keep in mind, because if CHS drops back from 1A to 2B next school year, as expected, they would rejoin their old stomping grounds, the Northwest League.

The current first-place team in that league? MVC.

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Natalie Hollrigel and the CHS girls soccer squad are deep into a four-game road trip. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Fear the wrath of the Hurricanes.

Mount Vernon Christian might be just a 1B school, but its girls soccer squad is a fearsome foe, something Coupeville was reminded of Saturday afternoon.

Playing their third game in a four-game road trip, the Wolf booters weren’t able to generate much offense against a very-effective MVC defense, falling 3-0.

The non-conference loss drops Coupeville to 1-5-1 on the season.

The Hurricanes, who haven’t given up more than a single goal in a game, are flying high, posting a 5-1 record.

MVC has outscored its first six opponents by a combined score of 21-5.

The Wolves are having a bit more trouble with their scoring differential, having been shut-out in four of seven games.

Playing, and losing, during back-to-back weekends, has dinged the ol’ win/loss record a bit.

“Saturdays do not seem to agree with us,” said CHS coach Kyle Nelson. “We were half a step slow today, and ultimately that cost us.”

Coupeville returns to the Island to wrap up its longest road trip of the season, visiting Langley this Tuesday, Sept. 25, to face South Whidbey.

CHS is 1-2 in North Sound Conference play, and a win against the Falcons (1-1 in league, 3-3 overall) would propel the Wolves up the standings.

The Island rivalry clash kicks off at 6 PM at South Whidbey High School.

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   Jean Lund-Olsen’s fingers tell the tale — two JV games Friday, two wins for Coupeville. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The small gym was hoppin’.

While the varsity basketball teams lit up the Coupeville High School gym Friday, the Wolf JV squads took turns winning thrillers against visiting Mount Vernon Christian across the hallway.

The CHS boys pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 38-36 win, evening their record at 1-1, while the girls emerged from overtime with a 24-22 victory to climb to 2-1 on the season.

Girls fight back:

Trailing 13-7 at the half, the Wolves steadily chipped away at the lead, cutting away three points in both the third and fourth quarters.

After losing its lead, MVC hit a late bucket to re-tie the game, then had a chance to win in the final three seconds.

Wolf frosh Chelsea Prescott read the play nicely, though, intercepting the in-bounds pass and sending the game to overtime, where one perfect play won the night.

Running a play it had recently installed, Coupeville used a “soccer-style” pass from pitch vet Tia Wurzrainer to Mollie Bailey to set up the only bucket of the extra period.

The wild finish capped what CHS coach Amy King termed a “back-and-forth, soccer-style game,” in which the ball was frequently loose, bodies were frequently crashing into one another, shots kept popping back out of the cylinder and there were “a million steals.”

Prescott racked up the best numbers in the scoring column with 10 (she also had five blocks and four steals), while Avalon Renninger (6), Nicole Lester (4), Bailey (2) and Wurzrainer (2) also tallied points.

Boys win a back-and-forth affair:

Both squads took turns surging, with Coupeville up 12-7 after one, down 20-19 at the half, then tied at 25-25 heading into the final eight minutes.

Once there, the Wolves got a pair of crunch-time three-balls from freshman Alex Jimenez, one of five CHS players to score in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Mason Grove paced Coupeville with a game-high 16, netting five three-point bombs and a crucial free throw, while Ulrik Wells pounded down low for seven points.

Jean Lund-Olsen (6), Jimenez (6), Daniel Olson (2) and David Prescott (1) all chipped in to round out the scoring attack.

“The young guys really stepped up for us tonight,” said Coupeville coach Chris Smith.

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   Ema Smith fights through the Mount Vernon Christian defense. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Allison Wenzel keeps a watchful eye on the defender as she drives the ball up-court.

As a work in progress, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad is going to hit a few bumps in the road this season.

Having lost four starters, the Wolves are not the same team which cruised to a third-straight league title last year.

They are young, talented, but still developing. And that was showcased Friday night.

At times, the Wolves looked very good, especially on defense, where they shut-down visiting Mount Vernon Christian for a seven-minute stretch in the second quarter.

But then, at other times, the Wolves looked tentative, and, unfortunately, one of those times came during the game’s closing minutes.

Losing the grip on a lead it had held for two-plus quarters, Coupeville went cold from the field down the stretch, watching as a 26-26 tie turned into a 35-29 loss.

The non-conference defeat drops the Wolves to 0-3 heading into a game Saturday with Flinders Christian, an Australian traveling team.

That game, which will be played at South Whidbey High School, tips at 11 AM.

Coupeville, which had held the lead from the first moments of the second quarter, finally fell behind, briefly, with seven minutes left in the game.

The Wolves responded strongly, though, getting a free throw from Mikayla Elfrank and a bucket from Lindsey Roberts to knot the game at 26.

The game-tying layup came courtesy sophomore guard Scout Smith, who retrieved a loose ball and pegged a sizzling pass that dropped onto Roberts fingertips in mid-stride.

It brought the crowd to its collective feet, led the MVC coach to call a timeout, and seemed to signal the start of a strong finale for Coupeville.

It wasn’t to be, though, as the Hurricanes hit on back-to-back three-point plays to bust the game open.

The first came on a lurching layup and ensuing free throw, courtesy of a ticky-tack foul call, while the second was an admittedly pretty dang impressive three-ball.

MVC had shooters willing to air the ball out, and they won the battle from behind the arc 15-0, thanks to five three-pointers that splashed home.

The first was a gut-wrencher, with the ball hitting the bottom of the net with 0:00.1 of a second left on the clock in the first quarter.

Coupeville refused to bend a knee in the game’s final moments, though, as Ema Smith and Kalia Littlejohn came hard after Hurricane ball-handlers as the game clock ticked down.

Ema Smith, making her season debut, had a particularly strong series of plays in the final 45 seconds, twice forcing jump balls before knocking down a long jumper that was a half-step away from being a three-ball of its own.

While that shot was a dagger, her teammate, Sarah Wright, had the most entertaining basket of the night.

The Wolf junior stopped and popped a shot early in the second quarter which bounced around, hitting every single side of the rim multiple times.

All 10 players eventually stood and watched as the ball bounced, bucked, popped and then, after an eternity, splashed through, giving Wright an opportunity to justifiably fist-pump as she back-pedaled.

While the Wolves didn’t get a break-out scoring performance, they did share the work, with Elfrank topping the charts with nine points and 11 rebounds.

Roberts and Littlejohn knocked down five points apiece, while Ema Smith (4), Wright (4) and Kyla Briscoe (2) rounded out the attack.

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