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Senior hurler Katrina McGranahan will carry the softball into the pitcher’s circle for Coupeville at districts this weekend. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Two wins from Richland.

That’s where the Coupeville High School softball team finds itself, as it preps for this weekend’s four-team, double-elimination district tourney.

Capture two victories without taking two losses, and the Wolves punch their ticket to the state tourney, earning a trip back to Eastern Washington.

The last time CHS softball went to the big dance was 2014, in David King’s final season as coach.

Now, after coming within a single strike of getting there last season, the Wolves are back to make another run under Kevin McGranahan, and with a little better set-up than a year ago.

Then, they faced a loser-out game in the first round, had to play game two mere seconds after game one finished and were on the diamond for four games in less than 24 hours.

This time around, Coupeville is guaranteed two games (and a decent break in the middle) Friday, and will only play one game, if any, Saturday.

A look at all the pertinent details:

 

The bracket:

http://www.olympicleague.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2610&sport=15

 

The location:

Lacey-Thurston County Regional Athletic Complex
8345 Steilacoom Road SE
Lacey, WA

http://www.ci.lacey.wa.us/city-government/city-departments/parks-and-recreation/regional-athletic-complex

 

Admission prices:

Adults and students w/o ASB — $8
Students (with ASB) — $5
Elementary (under 12) — $4
Senior citizens (62+) — $5
Preschool (with parent) — free

 

Team capsules:

 

COUPEVILLE

Season record: 11-7

League finish: #1 in Olympic League

Run differential: 169-108

Record vs. district tourney foes: 3-1 (3-0 vs Klahowya, 0-1 vs Vashon)

Coach: Kevin McGranahan

Mascot: Wolves

Last trip to state: 2014

Best finish at state: 3rd in 2002

 

BELLEVUE CHRISTIAN

Season record: 15-5

League finish: #1 in Nisqually League

Run differential: 189-95

Record vs. district tourney foes: 3-1 (all vs Vashon)

Coach: Ryan Kelly

Mascot: Vikings

Last trip to state: 2017

Best finish at state: 3rd in 2016

 

KLAHOWYA

Season record: 10-6

League finish: #2 in Olympic League

Run differential: 111-73

Record vs. district tourney foes: 1-3 (0-3 vs Coupeville, 1-0 vs Vashon)

Coach: Jodie Gagnon

Mascot: Eagles

Last trip to state: 2004

Best finish at state: Never placed; won one game in 2003 tourney

 

VASHON ISLAND

Season record: 8-10

League finish: #2 in Nisqually League

Run differential: 131-145

Record vs. district tourney foes: 2-4 (1-3 vs BC, 1-0 vs Coupeville, 0-1 vs Klahowya)

Coach: Heather Jurs

Mascot: Pirates

Last trip to state: 1991 (slow-pitch)

Best finish at state: Lost both games they played in ’91

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   Jake Hoagland steps to the plate during Thursday’s playoff game in Tacoma. (Jim Hoagland photos)

   Wolf hurler Matt Hilborn, looking very much like a man who probably just stuffed his pockets full of seeds.

A bump in the road.

One bad inning Thursday brought a momentary pause to the joy ride the Coupeville High School baseball team is enjoying this season.

But it doesn’t have to be fatal.

A momentary lapse or two in the second inning allowed Bellevue Christian to pile up all the runs it would need for a 4-1 win, giving the Vikings (13-6) the district title and a berth to the state tourney.

The playoff loss, coming on a neutral field in Tacoma, snaps Coupeville’s eight-game winning streak. Only the second defeat in the last 14 games for the Wolves, it drops them to 15-5.

But hope still burns brightly.

CHS heads back to Tacoma Saturday to play Charles Wright Academy (11-6) at Curtis High School. First pitch is scheduled for 1 PM.

The Tarriers stayed alive Thursday by eliminating Chimacum 5-0 in a loser-out game.

Coupeville destroyed CWA 10-0 in six innings the last time the two teams faced … which was Tuesday in the opening game of the playoffs.

Recreate that magic Saturday and the Wolf baseball program returns to state for the first time since 2014.

CHS had momentum coming in to the district title game and jumped on BC for a run in the top of the first.

Playing as the visiting team, the Wolves put lead-off hitter Matt Hilborn on board thanks to a single, then brought him around to score three batters later.

Julian Welling, the human RBI machine, plunked a run-scoring base-knock and everything looked like it was clicking for Coupeville.

Unfortunately, those two early hits were almost everything CHS got off of BC pitcher Daniel Teramato.

Once he escaped the first inning, the Viking hurler limited the Wolves to just two more hits the rest of the way, using just 71 pitches to blitz through seven innings.

And it was Teramato who delivered the game’s defining offensive moment as well, cracking a two-run double to cap a four-run explosion in the bottom of the second.

Bellevue mixed in a couple of timely hits with a walk or two and a key Coupeville error, then its offense also went fairly dry the rest of the way.

Wolf junior pitcher Matt Hilborn shut down the bleeding in the second by getting all three outs via whiffs, half of his six K’s on the day.

From that point until he handed the ball to reliever Dane Lucero late in the bottom of the sixth, Hilborn limited the Vikings to just two more hits.

The problem is, after playing flawless ball in every aspect of the game in their district playoff opener, the Wolves were not quite perfect against BC.

Coupeville racked up four errors in the field, four more than it committed against Charles Wright, and left what few base-runners it had hanging out to dry.

The Wolves got a runner aboard in the third on an error, only to see him erased in a double play.

After that, CHS left a man on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

The hardest to take came in the fifth, after Jake Pease launched a lead-off double to spark hopes of a Wolf comeback.

Instead, he was taken down on his way in to third on a fielder’s choice, and then the next two batters hit the ball straight at fielders for fly outs.

Coupeville only lost the hit parade battle 5-4, with Hilborn, Welling, Hunter Smith and Pease having base-knocks, but Teramato closed strongly, retiring eight of the final nine Wolf hitters.

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   Former All-Conference player Luke Pelant joined the CHS soccer coaching staff this year, helping the Wolves make their longest playoff run since 2010. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The 11th time was not the charm.

Squaring off with Olympic League rival Klahowya Thursday night in Silverdale, the Coupeville High School boys soccer squad experienced a good case of deja vu.

Falling 3-0 to the host Eagles, the Wolves were knocked out of the West Central District 3 playoffs and likely ended their relationship with a school they could not beat on the pitch.

After making their deepest run into the postseason in almost a decade, the Coupeville booters finished 7-9-2.

A win over five-time state champ Bellevue Christian kicked things off, then losses to Vashon Island and KSS ended things.

Now CHS jumps to the new North Sound Conference, and returns to District 1, this fall.

Klahowya (14-3-1), which never lost to a fellow 1A Olympic League team in four years, advances to play either Vashon Island or Charles Wright Academy Saturday in a winner-to-state, loser-goes-home game.

The Eagles scored early Thursday, when Pacific Lutheran University recruit Mason Joe hauled in a long ball and poked it into the back of the net.

A second goal came in the 22nd minute, when Josh Connolly’s corner kick found the perfect angle and deflected in off of Coupeville goaltender Dewitt Cole’s outstretched hands.

The Wolves played aggressively in the second half, hoping to emulate their late-game heroics against Vashon, but it wasn’t to be.

The game’s final score, a tap-in off of a cross, came courtesy William Stewart.

“It was a fairly close game,” said Coupeville coach Kyle Nelson. “They made us pay for a couple of mistakes and were able to keep us at bay, though we did have a few pretty good shots.

“They definitely put some attention on their defense to keep us out,” he added. “Overall, a good game for us; we were in it until the very end.”

While the loss ended the season, and the careers of seniors Hunter Downes, Axel Partida, Ethan Spark and William Nelson, this postseason was the best for Wolf boys soccer in quite some time.

The last playoff win for CHS came in 2012, and the three games was the most Coupeville had played in one postseason since they won four of six playoff games during a run to the state tourney in 2010.

The Wolves also busted two single-season goal scoring records, with sophomore Derek Leyva toppling cousin Abraham’s mark for a player (21 goals), and the team tallying a program-best 66 scores.

Those who found the net in 2018:

Derek Leyva – 24
Aram Leyva – 13
William Nelson – 8
Sam Wynn – 5
Hunter Downes – 3
Sage Downes – 3
Pedro Gamarra – 3
Ethan Spark – 2
James Wood – 2
Chris Cernick – 1
Jonathan Partida – 1
“Own” goal by other team – 1

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   After a loss to Vashon Tuesday, Coupeville High School soccer coach Kyle Nelson and his players have their backs to the wall. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Time to dig deep and find a miracle.

After absorbing an 8-4 loss to Vashon Island Tuesday, the Coupeville High School boys soccer squad finds itself in a tough spot.

The district playoff loss, which came on a neutral field at Mt. Tahoma High School, drops the Wolves to 7-8-2.

It also drops them into a loser-out game Thursday, one which presents a daunting task.

CHS has to travel 96 miles (one-way) to Orting High School, doesn’t play until 8 PM and faces Klahowya, a team the Wolf booters have never beaten in 10 previous games.

The Eagles are in the loser-out game because they were nipped Tuesday in a penalty kick shootout after ending regulation and overtime tied 3-3 with Charles Wright Academy.

Vashon and CWA play in the front-end of a doubleheader at Orting Thursday, with the winner advancing to state.

The loser of that game returns to Orting Saturday to face the survivor of the Thursday late game in a battle for District 3’s second slot to state.

For it to be Coupeville, the Wolves will have to do something no 1A Olympic League team has done in four years, upend Klahowya, which is 13-4-1 this year.

KSS has outscored CHS 47-5 over their 10 meetings, though the Wolves played the Eagles almost to a standstill in a 3-2 loss this season.

The Wolves fell behind early against Vashon, surrendering a pair of goals in the early moments of the game and trailing 6-1 at the half.

Sophomore Aram Leyva got Coupeville on the board with his 13th goal of the season, off an assist from William Nelson, and the Wolves were much sharper offensively after the break.

“We had a good halftime talk and came to life in the second half,” said CHS coach Kyle Nelson.

CHS “won” that 40-minute span 3-2, with Derek Leyva adding to his Wolf boys single-season scoring record.

He punched in a hat trick in one half, with his three goals lifting him to 24 on the year. That leaves him just shy of the school record of 27, set by Mia Littlejohn.

 

UPDATE: Game moved from 8 PM at Orting High School to 5 PM at Silverdale Stadium. Moves saves Coupeville 86 miles of round-trip bus travel.

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   Jake Pease crunched a pair of hits Tuesday as Coupeville thrashed Charles Wright 10-0 to open the playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The old streak is dead. Long live the new streak.

Jumping aggressively on Charles Wright Academy early, and never letting up, the Coupeville High School baseball squad rolled to a 10-0 win Tuesday in its district playoff opener.

The win, coming on a neutral field at Foss High School, snaps a five-game playoff losing streak for the Wolves and puts them a game away from punching their ticket to state.

Coupeville, which is 15-4 and has won 12 of its last 13 games, travels to Charles Wright Academy Thursday to face Bellevue Christian in the West Central District 3 title game.

The Vikings, the #1 seed out of the Nisqually League, drilled Chimacum 13-1 Tuesday and are 12-6 on the season.

After knocking off CWA, the Wolves now have two shots to advance to state for the first time since 2014.

Beat BC Thursday and it’s a done deal.

Lose Thursday and CHS heads to Curtis High School Saturday for a winner-to-state, loser-goes-home 2nd place bout.

That game would pit the Wolves against the survivor of Thursday’s Chimacum vs. CWA game.

For the moment, though, that’s all ahead and the focus is strictly on the Wolves breaking through and writing a different tale in the playoffs.

After winning four of five playoff games to start the 2014 postseason, Coupeville had dropped its last five under three different coaches.

CHS was eliminated 2-1 by Rochester in the first round of state in ’14, then fell 1-0 to Cascade Christian at districts in 2015, the final game of Willie Smith’s stellar, two-decades career as ball coach.

Marc Aparicio’s squad fell 13-0 to Cascade Christian and 6-1 to Seattle Christian in his one full season at the helm in 2016.

Current coach Chris Smith lost 2-1 to Bellevue Christian after taking over midway through the 2017 season, but evened his playoff record Tuesday afternoon.

“We were loving it!,” the jubilant coach said. “The guys were hunting big game.”

Coupeville dominated in every facet of the game, outhitting the Tarriers 11-4, playing error-free ball in the field and getting a concise, powerful performance from starting hurler Hunter Smith.

The senior staff ace used just 76 pitches across six innings, whiffing five and never giving up more than one base-knock per inning.

The Wolves, on the other hand, came out swinging the big bats and never let up.

Matt Hilborn led off the game with a sharp single, and CHS plated four runs in the top of the first to effectively put the game on ice.

Hunter Smith launched a one-out triple to bring Hilborn around, then scampered home himself on an RBI single by Julian Welling.

Capping things off, Jake Pease, returning from an injury, followed a Dane Lucero single with a game-busting two-run double.

The Wolves pressed their advantage at the plate all afternoon, though Charles Wright managed to somehow escape the third inning unscathed even after surrendering three hits, including a moon shot of a double off of Welling’s bat.

CHS tacked on a run in the fourth, with Joey Lippo singling, swiping second and coming around on an error, then the Wolves closed things out with a bang in the sixth.

Nick Etzell, who, like Pease, is returning from an injury, kicked things off with a single.

After that came a string of walks, a nicely-hit two-run single from Lucero, then a bunch of jumpy moments for the Tarrier hurler.

Capping what was a truly awful day for the CWA program, the final run came home not on a hit or a walk, but on a balk that allowed Lucero to stroll in from third.

Coupeville spread its offense out, with eight different Wolves collecting a hit.

Welling and Pease led the way, with a single and double apiece, while Hunter Smith had his three-bagger and Lucero collected a pair of singles.

Hilborn, Lippo, Jake Hoagland and Etzell rounded out the hit parade with a base-knock apiece, while Kyle Rockwell and Gavin Knoblich chipped in with solid defense.

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