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Covid turned four seasons of high school softball into 2.5 for Izzy Wells, but she led Coupeville to a 43-13 record during that time. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Izzy Wells and Audrianna Shaw will be remembered as elite softball players, two of the best to ever wear a Coupeville High School uniform.

Their prep careers ended Saturday at Fort Borst Park in Centralia, as the Wolves fell 15-4 to Toledo in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.

But that final score is a bit deceptive, as the game wasn’t a blow-out until the very end, when the Riverhawks busted open a 5-4 thriller with 10 runs across the final three innings.

Coupeville finishes 16-3, while Toledo carries a 16-9 record as it preps for a trip to the 12-team 2B state tourney in Yakima.

For Wells and Shaw, the state tourney is where their high school diamond journey really got going.

As freshmen, the duo was part of a 2019 Wolf squad which played three games in one day at the 1A big dance, a run which included eliminating highly ranked Deer Park.

But then the world, and their softball dreams, took a major hit, with a pandemic shutting down school sports.

Wells and Shaw lost their entire sophomore season, before playing a chopped-down, 12-game junior campaign while wearing masks and having no chance for a postseason.

Jump forward to their senior year, and the duo led Coupeville to another league title, only to be stung once again by the vagaries of life.

CHS played the waiting game during an 18-day gap between the regular-season finale and Saturday’s playoff game.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association dictates you have to have 50 schools playing a sport for a 16-team state tourney, and 2B softball only had 49 this spring.

So, welcome to a 12-team championship event.

Welcome to Coupeville’s home, District 1, being told its champ would not automatically qualify for the big dance, as previously promised.

And welcome to the Wolves being forced to sit 18 days between games, travel 138 miles, then play a sudden-death contest against District 4’s #5 team for that elusive ticket to state.

A Toledo squad which was playing its third game of the day and sixth during the five-day District 4 tourney.

Which could have meant the Riverhawks would be tired. Or, more likely, that they would be in a groove.

Choose the latter, as Toledo, which began the season 4-6, won for the twelfth time in its last 15 games.

The Riverhawks won four of six at the D4 tourney, outscoring foes 75-23 and losing only to Forks and Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, which are also state bound.

In the early going, it looked like Coupeville would add another loss to Toledo’s record, as the Wolves jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings of play.

After Izzy Wells, prowling the pitcher’s circle, ended the top of the first with an emphatic strikeout, CHS pushed three runs across in the bottom of the frame.

Walks to Shaw, Gwen Gustafson, and Izzy Wells set the table, with freshmen Mia Farris and Savina Wells both coming up with well-placed singles to key the early onslaught.

Savina Wells is one of four freshmen who started this season for a 16-3 CHS diamond crew.

A third Wolf fab frosh, shortstop Taylor Brotemarkle, walked to open the second inning, before coming around to score on an RBI single from Farris.

Up 4-0, things were looking good, but, while it didn’t yet know it, Coupeville wouldn’t score again this season after Brotemarkle slapped home.

The Wolves put runners on base in every inning, finishing the day with seven hits and eight walks, but couldn’t sustain any late rallies.

That gave Toledo time to get its own bats poppin’, with the Riverhawks cutting the deficit to 4-3 in the third, before surging ahead 5-4 through four frames.

Two more tallies in the fifth stretched the lead to 7-4, with a pair of four-run innings in Toledo’s final at-bats making the score far more lopsided than expected.

“They hit the ball all over the field,” said Coupeville coach Kevin McGranahan. “Our girls played well, but the hits were all solid and well-placed.”

Even as the season wound down, the Wolves continued to scrap for every out, something which pleased their coach.

“The girls were focused and ready to play and left it all on the field,” McGranahan said.

Izzy Wells and Audrianna Shaw, four-year varsity players who got to actually play 2.5 years, depart, with fellow seniors Mckenna Somes and Violette Huegerich also set to graduate.

But Coupeville is built for the future.

Four of Saturday’s starters — Farris, Brotemarkle, Madison McMillan, and Savina Wells — are freshmen, while a fifth — leftfielder Teagan Calkins — is only an 8th grader.

 

Saturday stats:

Taylor Brotemarkle — 1 walk
Mia Farris — 2 singles
Gwen Gustafson — 2 walks
Allie Lucero — 2 walks
Maya Lucero — 1 walk
Madison McMillan — 1 single
Audrianna Shaw — 2 singles, 1 walk
Izzy Wells — 1 walk
Savina Wells — 2 singles

Mia Farris is ready to sprint into even more success.

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Gwen Gustafson swoops in to deny a hitter. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Time for a convoy!

Coupeville High School softball finally gets to return to action this Saturday, May 21, breaking an 18-day layoff for a winner-to-state, loser-out contest.

The game, which pits the Wolves (16-2, Northwest 2B/1B League champs, rulers of District 1) against a team from District 4, is set for 6 PM at Fort Borst Park in Centralia.

The 12-team D4 tourney runs May 16-21, with the top four teams advancing to the 12-team 2B state tourney.

Then, Coupeville, despite being a league champ, gets to come in cold and face the #5 team from D4, which will be playing its third game that day.

It’s all because Washington Interscholastic Activities Association officials — ignoring the fact there haven’t been state tournaments since 2019 thanks to the pandemic — are being pedantic.

WIAA rules state 50 schools need to play a sport in a classification to have a normal 16-team state tourney.

End up with 49 active programs, as 2B softball currently does, and you get a 12-team championship event.

Which also takes away District 1’s automatic berth to the big dance, forcing the long layoff, the long bus ride, and a game against an opponent who will be a mystery until an hour or two before first pitch.

Izzy Wells unleashes The Knee-Buckler.

While they haven’t played a game which counts since May 3, the Wolves have continued to practice and scrimmage, and plot their revenge.

CHS coach Kevin McGranahan is calling on Wolf Nation to come out in support of his team, even in a foreign locale.

“Hopefully we can get some fans to travel down to Centralia and show the world how Coupeville does it right,” he said.

“We are facing a tough test, but I am sure this team will give everything they have and leave it all on the field.  When the dust settles my money is on the WOLVES!”

 

Tickets:

Adults and students without ASB — $7.00
Students with ASB and senior citizens (62+) — $5.00
Children (Under 6) — Free

 

Fort Borst Park:

2030 Borst Ave
Centralia, WA 98531

https://www.cityofcentralia.com/Page.asp?NavID=444

Madison McMillan gets medieval on the ball.

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Hawthorne Wolfe had Coupeville’s lone hit Friday in a season-closing 3-2 playoff loss. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Friday Harbor has a flair for the dramatic.

The Wolverines won two of three baseball games this season against Coupeville, with both victories coming in the bottom of the seventh and final inning.

The second of those losses — a 3-2 defeat on a neutral field in La Conner Friday afternoon — will likely sting the longest for CHS.

That’s largely because it ends Coupeville’s season a game shy of advancing to the state tournament and sends a strong pack of Wolf seniors to the exit.

CHS won the regular-season Northwest 2B/1B League title, finishing 11-1 to Friday Harbor’s 10-1 mark, with Mother Nature preventing the Wolverines from playing a final game against Orcas Island.

But, come playoff time, when the 2B schools split from the 1B, seeding is determined only by games against other 2B league schools.

Coupeville and Friday Harbor each swept a pair of games from La Conner, and split their season series, forcing a tiebreaker game to determine who would get District 1’s lone berth to the 16-team 2B state tourney.

The Wolves, who finish 13-7, were seeking their first trip to the big dance since 2014, but it wasn’t to be.

Friday Harbor, which sits at 15-2 overall after the win, begins single elimination play May 21.

Call Friday’s game what you will — a play-in game, a postseason thriller, the rubber match in a three-game royal rumble — it was decided by a hit.

In a game in which very few base-knocks were recorded.

Friday Harbor finished with just a pair of doubles, but the second one was a killer.

Meanwhile, CHS senior Hawthorne Wolfe led off the game by lacing a single, before Coupeville went 28 at-bats without registering another hit on the day.

The teams did combine to eke out 12 walks, and a handful of errors kept things interesting all the way until the end.

That final flourish came in the bottom of the seventh, with Friday Harbor’s Connor Haines drawing a one-out walk, then skittering to second on a groundout.

Freshman Graham Learing, having taken two quick strikes to begin his at-bat, beat the odds, crunching a liner to left which found daylight and dropped in for his team’s first hit since the third inning.

Running full-tilt, Haines crashed home, sending the Wolverines into celebration mode as they punched their ticket to state.

For Coupeville, which was trying to send a second-straight boys team to the tourney after basketball made the trip to Eastern Washington, it ended a frustrating finale.

The Wolves, even with just the one hit, put runners on base in five of seven innings, and led 2-0 all the way until the bottom of the fifth.

While Hawk didn’t come around to score after his opening single, Coupeville finally broke a scoreless tie with a run in the top of the fourth, then another the very next frame.

The game’s first run came courtesy Scott Hilborn, who walked, stole two bases, then tapped home after a balk.

Scott Hilborn had a strong junior season, and will be back for more.

But, while Coupeville picked up three other walks in the inning, with Xavier Murdy, Sage Sharp, and 8th grader Chase Anderson showing great patience, there was no big run-fest to be had.

Friday Harbor pitcher Nathan Posenjak, who went the distance, gave up another run in the fifth — with Jonathan Valenzuela walking and coming around to score on a wild pitch — but escaped each time.

Wolfe and Hilborn, who teamed up to whiff eight batters, matched their rival hurler, but Friday Harbor finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth.

A pair of walks and two errors allowed the Wolverines to knot the game up at 2-2 and set the stage for a dramatic ending.

Coupeville got a runner to second in the sixth, with Cody Roberts reaching on an error, but was ultimately denied, then went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh.

The game marked the end of the road for CHS seniors Murdy, Roberts, Cole Hutchinson, Sharp, and Wolfe.

Xavier Murdy, class to the end.

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A couple more hours to fine-tune the swing. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One more day to build the anticipation.

Thursday’s baseball battle royal between Coupeville and Friday Harbor — a one-game showdown in La Conner to decide which of the schools advance to the state tournament — has been bumped a day.

Mother Nature, as she has been all spring, is a pain in the tushie.

The game, now set for 3 PM Friday, still on that neutral field in La Conner, pits a 13-6 Wolf squad against a 14-2 Wolverine team.

Coupeville is the Northwest 2B/1B League champ, having finished 11-1 to Friday Harbor’s 10-1, but playoff seeding is determined only by the games between 2B schools.

Both teams swept two games from La Conner, while splitting their own season series.

Friday Harbor won 3-2 on its home field, while Coupeville returned the favor 11-8 on Whidbey.

The winner of the play-in game advances to the 16-team 2B state tourney, which kicks off May 21.

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Xavier Murdy tracks a falling baseball. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Peyton Caveness tries to nab a runner at first base. (Morgan White photo)

Rain washed away Friday Harbor’s chances to retain a share of the Northwest 2B/1B League baseball title.

Mother Nature is piddling on Orcas Island Thursday, erasing the regular-season finale.

With the 1B schools from the NWL starting their own playoff runs Saturday, and more rain expected on Orcas Friday, there is no chance to reschedule.

That means Coupeville (11-1 in NWL action, 13-6 overall) finishes a half-game up on Friday Harbor (10-1, 14-2), though the teams will still clash in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff game.

The Wolves and Wolverines face off Thursday, May 12 on a neutral field in La Conner.

First pitch is 3 PM.

Whichever team is standing at the end gets the NWL’s one berth to the 16-team 2B state tournament, which begins May 21.

Friday Harbor rallied to win the first meeting of the season 3-2 on its home diamond, while Coupeville got the bats going in an 11-8 win on Whidbey the second time around.

CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, a longtime former hardball coach, (sort of) agrees with me that his school should get a slight advantage in the playoffs based on being league champs.

“I’ll ask to start up half a run!”, he said with a big laugh, then went back to dealing with more important things.

 

CHS hosts 1B playoff game:

A loser-out District 1/2 baseball playoff game goes down on Coupeville’s field Saturday.

Orcas Island will face Muckleshoot Tribal, with first pitch at 1 PM.

No admission is being charged.

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