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Sophomore hurler Daniel Olson struck out seven in five innings Monday as Coupeville won its fifth-straight game and clinched a playoff berth. (Photo by Karen Carlson)

Mission: accomplished.

At least the first part of the mission, that is.

Never losing faith after an 0-12 start to the season, the Coupeville High School baseball squad has bounced back to win five straight and clinch a playoff berth.

The latest victory came Monday afternoon, as the Wolves dodged rain drops and visiting Granite Falls to nab a 6-5 win in extra innings.

When Matt Hilborn’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth plated Mason Grove, it all came together for CHS.

Now 5-8 in North Sound Conference play, 5-12 overall, the Wolves clinch their league’s #4 playoff seed and are guaranteed a trip to bi-districts.

They’ll join Cedar Park Christian (12-1, 16-2), South Whidbey (11-2, 16-2), and King’s (7-5, 8-9), while Granite Falls (2-11, 4-14) and Sultan (1-11, 1-16) get no postseason love this spring.

The four NSC teams will clash with three teams from the Northwest Conference and two from the Emerald City League, with four of the nine advancing to state.

Coupeville, after wrapping up the regular season with two more games against Granite — Wednesday on the road and Friday at home on Senior Night — open bi-districts May 4 on a neutral field at Sehome High School.

Win at least one of two games that day, and the Wolves live to play again May 11.

To see the bi-district bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2913&sport=6

Monday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, with the teams exchanging leads several times, before treating fans to free baseball.

After Wolf starting pitcher Daniel Olson slipped out of a jam in the first inning, using the first of his seven strikeouts to muzzle the Tigers, Coupeville struck for two runs in the bottom of the frame.

Hilborn bashed a lead-off double, and Granite helped mightily, committing three of their eventual six errors in just a single inning.

The lead held up for a bit, even though Coupeville left a golden scoring opportunity unanswered in the bottom of the second inning.

The Wolves had a runner 90 feet away from pay-dirt after Shane Losey ripped a one-out triple, but the senior was left clamped to the bag as Granite’s pitcher wiggled away from danger like a worm evading a plunging hawk.

Sparked by their miracle escape, the visitors finally got their bats going, pinging shots to all fields as they piled up four runs during a third-inning rally.

But there was no break in the spirit of the Wolves, just a deep commitment to rallying time and again.

A two-run double off the bat of Ulrik Wells in the fourth inning knotted the game back up at 4-4, before CHS pushed a run across in the fifth to reclaim the lead.

The tie-breaker came courtesy singles from Hilborn and Hawthorne Wolfe and two more errors by the shaky Granite defense.

With their season hanging by a thread, the Tigers refused to go down easy, rallying for one last run in the top of the seventh to set up the nerve-wracking finale.

In the end, Coupeville punched its playoff ticket with a mix of grit, big plays and stellar work by young and old.

Freshman relief ace Cody Roberts stranded Granite’s go-ahead run at second base in the top of the eighth, closing things with a big strikeout before inducing an inning-ending ground-out.

Taking immediate advantage, the Wolves primed the stage with back-to-back walks by Grove and Losey, which brought Hilborn, once a bright-eyed youngster, but now a grizzled vet, to the plate.

Capping a four-hit day, the senior standout tattooed the ball out where Granite had no chance to make a play, sending himself and his team into the postseason.

Coupeville, which has been torrid at the plate during its winning streak, banged out nine hits on the afternoon.

Hilborn had a double and three singles to lead the way, while Losey (3B), Wells (2B), Bryce Payne (1B), Wolfe (1B), and Dane Lucero (1B) all added base-knocks.

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Ulrik Wells crashes hard to score the second of his team’s 14 runs Friday afternoon. (Karen Carlson photo)

The team that couldn’t score, now can’t stop.

Throwing double digits up on the scoreboard for the third straight game Friday, the Coupeville High School baseball squad crushed visiting Sultan 14-4, completing a season sweep of the Turks and running its winning streak to four games.

With the win, the Wolves rise to 4-8 in North Sound Conference play, 4-12 overall, and need just one victory in three games against Granite Falls next week to clinch a playoff spot.

Coupeville sits two games up on the Tigers (2-10, 4-13) heading into the final regular-season series.

The teams play Monday and Friday in Coupeville, with a Wednesday clash at Granite.

The top four teams from the six-team NSC advance to the postseason, and Cedar Park Christian (12-0, 16-1), South Whidbey (10-2, 15-2), and King’s (7-5, 8-9) are the top three seeds.

With the loss Friday, Sultan (1-11, 1-16) was eliminated from contention for the #4 seed, leaving Coupeville and Granite Falls to fight amongst themselves.

If the Wolves nail down a playoff berth, they open the double-elimination district tourney Saturday, May 4 at Sehome High School.

They would play the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference (currently Mount Baker), and win or lose, would play a second playoff game later that same day.

But that’s still in a possible future, and Coupeville head coach Chris Smith believes in the oldest of baseball proverbs — take them one game at a time.

Friday he saw his team play very patient ball, racking up seven hits and 14 walks in a game which seemed to drift through every season.

Pushing two-and-a-half hours, even with the mercy rule bringing the game to a close after six innings, the contest opened with the pitter-patter of rain, moved through the rustle of wind, then closed with a rare burst or two of sunshine.

Along the way, the Wolves got a solid pitching performance from Matt Hilborn, who whiffed 11 before pitch count limits removed him from the mound an out short of putting in six innings of work.

Matt came out and gave it his all,” Smith said. “He got some good work in, and we needed that for him heading in to next week.”

Mason Grove made a rare appearance on the mound in relief of Hilborn, and, on mom Mindy’s birthday, slammed the door shut quickly, ending Sultan’s final hopes on a fly-out.

Offensively, Coupeville accepted what it was given, then made the Turks pay, over and over again, scoring in five of six innings.

In the beginning, the Wolves were content to scratch out a run here, a run there, plating a single hitter in the first and second innings.

The first time around it was Hilborn, who walked, stole second, went to third on a passed ball, then shot home to score on a Hawthorne Wolfe grounder.

Looking for a bit more excitement in the second frame, the Wolves got a one-out single to left-center off the bat of first-baseman Ulrik Wells.

After a balk bumped him ahead an extra base, Coupeville’s tallest player defied the odds, scoring on a passed ball and doing it with a spectacular face-first dive under the Sultan catcher.

The Wolves busted the game open with an 11-batter, seven-run third inning which went on and on and on some more, as a Sultan reliever played a game called “999 pitches and no strikes.”

Picking up six walks, including three with the bases jammed full of runners, CHS also took advantage of two Turk errors — a bad throw and a brain freeze — and a couple of passed balls/wild pitches, before capping things with one resounding hit.

That came from Hilborn, making his second trip to the plate in the inning, after being plunked in the thigh by a wayward pitch the first time around.

Getting some sweet revenge, he smashed a two-run single right back up the middle, the ball almost taking the pitcher’s leg off as it ricocheted by and shot into open space.

Sultan, playing with the minimum nine players, did its best to hang tough, though, and rallied to pull within 9-4.

But Hilborn was ultimately too much for the Turks, and he got some help on defense.

Gavin Straub made a great running catch in right field and shortstop Jake Pease went over his shoulder to snag a high lob while on the move.

Coupeville added two more runs in the fifth inning, on RBI singles from Wolfe and Dane Lucero, before putting Sultan out of its misery in the sixth.

Walks to Daniel Olson, Seth Weatherford, and Hilborn, plus two more Sultan errors, let a pair of Wolves scamper home, but the 14th, and final run, came on a truly solid base-knock.

It came from Pease, who slapped the exclamation point on things with a rocket of a single to deep center-field.

Any other time, the laser would have brought two, and possibly all three runners aboard around to score, but Coupeville only needed one to stretch the lead to 10, so Pease was denied extra RBI’s.

Not that it seemed to bother him, as the senior helped lead a raucous post-game celebration.

Lucero paced the offense with a pair of singles, while Hilborn, Wolfe, Pease, Gavin Knoblich, and Wells all chipped in with a base-knock of their own.

Hilborn (4), Olson (3), and Lucero (2) drew multiple base on balls, with the one-walk club offering membership to Bryce Payne, Weatherford, Straub, Wells, and Pease.

With the game mostly in hand all the way, Smith mixed and matched his lineup, getting 13 players on the field.

Sage Sharp started in right field and Jonny Carlson pulled back-up duty at first to round out the Wolves who played.

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Aram Leyva celebrated his birthday by banging home a hat trick Tuesday as Coupeville soccer romped to a 5-1 road win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

First things first – they’re going to the playoffs.

The bracket for the boys soccer district tournament was posted Tuesday, and it shows five teams from the North Sound Conference qualifying, with the other three slots being filled by the Northwest Conference.

With Granite Falls having abandoned its program this year, that guarantees the five NSC schools still playing are all postseason-bound.

So, instead of fighting for a playoff berth, Coupeville will spend the next month vying for seeding and the chance to open the postseason at home.

Or, in the case of the Wolves, close to home up in Oak Harbor, since playoff games have to be contested on turf fields.

Five of eight teams will advance from districts to bi-districts, the last stop before the state tourney.

In any case, having already clinched a playoff ticket takes a certain pressure off of everyone.

Though, with the way the Coupeville booters are playing of late it might not have mattered.

Raining down goals from all sides Tuesday in Bothell, the Wolves battered host Cedar Park Christian 5-1 to claim their third win in their last four games.

Now 2-1 in league play, 4-3 overall, CHS moves into a second-place tie with South Whidbey (1-0, 4-1), a half-game off of league-leader King’s (2-0, 3-1-1).

Sultan (0-1, 0-5) and Cedar Park (0-3, 0-4) round out the Granite-less standings.

Coupeville, which has six regular-season games left, five of them conference bouts, gets a major challenge Friday when it travels down Island to Langley to face South Whidbey.

Tuesday’s game was close for a half, as the Wolves went to the break clinging to a 1-0 lead, thanks to a Derek Leyva score.

Things quickly turned in the second half, however, as birthday boy Aram Leyva ripped off a hat trick, peppering the CPC goaltender for three quick scores.

His cousin, Derek, popped back in to seal the offensive attack, rattling home his second goal of the night.

That leaves the Leyvas tied atop the season scoring stat sheet with nine goals apiece, while Derek hangs on to a 33-28 lead in career scoring.

Both Wolf juniors are hot on the heels of Aram’s older brother, Abraham, who graduated in 2016 with the program career scoring record of 45 goals.

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Makana Stone collected 10 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals Saturday in a college basketball playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now they wait to find out their fate.

Swamped by too many turnovers and too many missed shots, especially from outside the paint, the Whitman College women’s basketball squad came up short Saturday in Newberg, OR.

Falling 66-52 to host George Fox University in the championship game of the Northwest Conference postseason tourney, the Blues fell a win shy of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships.

While George Fox (24-3) is definitely on its way to March Madness, Whitman (20-7) waits until the selection show Monday to find out if it gets in with at an-large bid.

The Blues have a strong body of work to support their quest for an invite, including a 19-point win over George Fox earlier this season.

Unfortunately, Whitman couldn’t repeat that victory Saturday, a game in which it got swarmed by an ultra-aggressive defense and buckled.

In a contest where 10 different Bruins scored, Whitman essentially played 2-on-5 for much of the night.

Senior Maegan Martin, who had never topped 20 in her college playing days, poured in a game-high 28, while Coupeville’s Makana Stone delivered with 10 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and a big blocked shot.

Whitman’s twin towers got little help from their teammates, however, with no one else scoring more than three points.

In between a horrifying amount of turnovers (some forced, many not), the Blues hit on just 19 of 47 shots, including a crippling 6-21 in the first half.

For the game, the #1 three point shooting team in the league went 0-9, while George Fox rattled home 7-19.

Whitman came into the title game averaging 76 points a night, but started cold and never fully recovered.

The Blues didn’t get their first bucket until two-and-a-half minutes in, when Mady Burdett knocked down a runner.

It would be the only shot the First-Team All-Conference guard, who averages 15 points a game, would hit while being hounded relentlessly by platoons of Bruins.

Down just 16-10 at the first break, Whitman suffered through a brutal second quarter, watching its deficit balloon out to 21 points shortly before halftime.

Martin swished a pair of free throws, followed by Stone taking a steal coast-to-coast for a layup to end the half, but George Fox squashed every Whitman comeback hope in the second half.

Down by 20, the Blues ended the third on a 9-0 surge, but the Bruins immediately answered to open the fourth.

It was virtually the same seven minutes later, as Whitman, behind their interior one-two punch, closed to within 10 with a hair over three minutes to play.

George Fox promptly came up court, ran the clock down, then drilled another three-ball to permanently ice the game.

While she’s hoping for a trip to the NCAA tourney, Martin, Whitman’s lone senior, played what could be her final collegiate game with a vengeance.

An Honorable Mention selection when the NWC picked its All-Conference teams last week, she has been a strong role player all four years.

Martin’s career high entering Saturday’s game was 19 points, but she carried the Blues, hitting 11-18 from the field and 6-7 from the line.

Stone dominated the boards, with her 13 rebounds coming in a game in which no other player, on either team, collected more than six.

It was the 12th double-double for the former Wolf ace this season.

As she waits for an NCAA bid, Stone sits with 388 points, 227 rebounds, 40 assists, 31 steals, and 21 blocks during her junior campaign.

She’s hit 162-318 (50.9%) from the floor and 63-79 (79.7%) from the line.

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Ja’Kenya Hoskins tip-toes through the paint during Coupeville’s home playoff win over Sultan. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Many fans, many emotions.

Ema Smith evades a Turk defender.

JV basketball stars (l to r) Abby Mulholland, Morgan Stevens, and Lily Leedy cheer on their varsity teammates.

Fab frosh Izzy Wells caps the game with a sweet bank shot for two.

Wolves (l to r) Emma Mathusek, Lucy Sandahl, and Kylie Chernikoff catch up with coaches Cory Whitmore (in red) and Chris Smith.

Lindsey Roberts gets out of town in a hurry.

Paul and Marilyn Messner’s three daughters, possibly up to shenanigans.

No buckets, no how. Defensive dynamo Tia Wurzrainer shuts down another would-be scorer.

One last, unexpected chance to play in front of their fans and personal photographer.

That’s what the Coupeville High School girls basketball team got Wednesday, when snow and ice changed the schedule, giving the Wolves a home playoff game.

On the floor, CHS cruised to a 48-37 win over Sultan.

Meanwhile, on the sideline, riding high on the power of a donated Kit-Kat bar, wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken clicked away, capturing on and off court action.

The photos above are courtesy him, but are just a taste of what he shot.

To see everything that came out of Fisken’s cameras, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2018-2019-boys-and-girls/GBB-2019-02-06-vs-Sultan-playoff/

And when you go, remember, a percentage of all purchases helps fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes.

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