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   “Dang, scored too many runs and broke the counter again…” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The tune-up went off flawlessly.

Playing on the road a day before its biggest game in 16 years, the Coupeville High School softball squad was humming Thursday afternoon.

Crushing 20 hits in just five innings of play, the Wolves obliterated La Conner 18-3 in a game which could have been far, far more one-sided.

CHS coach Kevin McGranahan gave quality time to bench players, never used his pitching ace in the circle and had the big boppers in his lineup practice their in-game bunting skills late in the game.

And still the Wolves romped, running their record to 8-3 headed into Friday’s home rumble with Klahowya.

Win that game (and CHS shellacked the Eagles 15-1 the first time around) and Coupeville clinches its first league title since 2002.

Thanks to rain and a patch-work schedule, Klahowya hasn’t played a single game since being bashed by the Wolves.

Meanwhile, Coupeville has gotten in another seven non-conference contests, going 5-2 with just losses to powerhouse Forks, during that time.

“We are as ready as we can be for Klahowya tomorrow and can now squarely set our sights on them,” Kevin McGranahan said.

His squad, even missing star shortstop Lauren Rose, who was off looking at colleges, played just about to perfection against La Conner.

Coupeville’s pitching ace, Katrina McGranahan, rested her arm, pulling time at short and third while the young guns, sophomore Scout Smith and freshman Chelsea Prescott, shared time in the circle.

Smith whiffed a pair of Braves sluggers while tossing the first two innings, made a sensational running catch over her shoulder at short in the fourth, then returned to close the game in the fifth.

Prescott, who has been a fixture at third base from day one of the season, made her varsity pitching debut and fired BB’s past La Conner in the third and fourth.

With the young duo humming, Coupeville wouldn’t have needed many runs to win. But good luck trying to stop the express train when it’s rolling.

The Wolves unloaded for five runs in both the first and second innings and put the game out of sight early.

While CHS got RBI singles from Katrina McGranahan, Sarah Wright and Mackenzie Davis in the top of the first (two other runs came around thanks to smart base-running), there was one early at-bat which wowed the gathered masses.

That came courtesy Wolf first-baseman Veronica Crownover, who worked the La Conner hurler through approximately 237 pitches.

The Coupeville junior crushed the snot out of a pair of foul balls which curved to the left and ended up down around Fidalgo Island to start things off.

Both were wicked liners which banged off of nearby buildings and would have been home runs if Crownover had gotten either ball to straighten out slightly.

La Conner’s pitcher had the look of a deer gazing softly into a semi truck’s oncoming headlights, and seemed genuinely relieved when the next foul ball went straight back and buried itself into a patch of trees.

Fouls #4 and #5 shot down the third-base line, with the second one causing Kevin McGranahan to jump a good two feet into the air to keep from earning a tattoo on his ankle.

“Ha! Didn’t think I could do that, did you??” the CHS coach chuckled, then took a quick step or two back as Crownover hefted her bat once more.

She finally reached base, coasting into second base after blasting a shot to left-center which skidded off the center-fielder’s glove and bounced madly away.

The whole let’s-smash-the-heck-outta-the-ball plan was just getting started, however.

Cue the second inning and Prescott, who strode to the plate with the bases juiced and no outs.

A single by Coral Caveness, a walk to Katrina McGranahan and Wright beating out a chopper set the table, and then the full meal was served.

Prescott, going full Mike Trout on the ball, crushed it, sending a cannon shot which punched a hole in the heavens, curled hard and plunged, biting a chunk of turf out of the deepest part of right field.

With first-base coach Ron Wright having a stroke yelling at his runners to get their feet moving before Prescott passed them, the fab frosh never broke stride, sliding under the tag for an inside-the-park grand salami.

And yet, there’s more! Much more!

Coupeville still had nine more runs to plate on this day, with Emma Mathusek, Nicole Laxton (twice) and Smith (twice) collecting RBI base-knocks in the later going.

Add a run-scoring ground-out off the bat of freshman Mollie Bailey, and the only thing preventing the Wolves from short-circuiting the scoreboard was their own sense of humility and fair play.

When Wright, your clean-up hitter, a basher and a bruiser who entered the game hitting .500 on the season, is dropping a bunt in the fifth (and safely making it to first), the brakes are as fully-applied as possible.

“They (La Conner) were a young team and learning as they go,” Kevin McGranahan said.

Coupeville spread the love, with nine of 11 active players getting a hit.

Prescott, Katrina McGranahan and Mathusek led the way with three base-knocks apiece, while Smith, Caveness, Wright, Crownover and Laxton collected two apiece.

Davis added a hit on a pool table shot that drifted past the pitcher, then spun madly, while Bailey had an RBI and Hope Lodell walked and played stellar defense in center.

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   Katrina McGranahan lays out to snag a fly ball that was caught in a gust of wind and suddenly changed directions. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Halfway in and the stat sheet is on fire.

The Coupeville High School softball squad, which jumps into the second half of the regular season this week with games against La Conner and Klahowya, is humming along at 7-3.

Coming off of an offensive fireworks show at Friday Harbor, the Wolves have some impressive numbers, and I’m here to share them with you.

The latest sweet statsy stats, as compiled by CHS coaches and posted on MaxPreps:

 

Hitting:

Player AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR SB BB RBI Avg. OBP
Caveness 18 7 5 3 2 5 .278 .350
Lodell 30 7 6 1 1 2 3 .200 .273
Mathusek 16 5 3 2 3 3 .188 .350
Smith 37 15 15 3 1 3 .405 .436
Rose 29 11 7 2 1 4 4 4 .241 .333
Prescott 29 12 7 1 4 3 4 .241 .312
Davis 7 2 1 2 3 .143 .455
McGranahan 31 17 11 1 1 9 6 10 .355 .512
Bailey 8 2 2 4 3 .250 .500
Crownover 34 8 16 4 3 1 13 .471 .486
Wright 36 12 18 4 1 2 1 20 .500 .500
Laxton 12 2 2 1 3 .167 .286

 

Pitching:

Player W/L ERA Gms CG SO Hits Runs BB K IP BF
McGranahan 6-1 2.28 9 6 2 32 25 19 43 46 211
Smith 1-2 7.47 4 1 19 23 5 4 15 76

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   Scout Smith had a pair of singles Saturday as Coupeville clashed with high-flying Forks in a doubleheader. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This is not going to go the way you think.

Luke Skywalker’s words of wisdom in “The Last Jedi” were likely echoing around Coupeville Saturday, though, with all the wind, everyone could be forgiven for not hearing them.

On a day when the prairie was lashed by rolling, dirt-flinging, sustained winds that sliced through the souls of even the most die-hard of fans, the Wolf softball squad came back to Earth.

The CHS sluggers, coming off of a romp against Meridian, entered Saturday with a superb 6-1 record.

That record has now taken a ding or two, courtesy a very-impressive Forks team.

A Spartans unit that plays together as both a high school team and a travel ball squad showed what year-round commitment can inspire, as they drilled the Wolves 12-0 and 10-0 to sweep a doubleheader no one was sure would be played in the first place.

The non-conference losses drop Coupeville to 6-3, and its players, who managed just five hits on the day while battling flame-throwing Spartans and Mother Nature, will have some time to reflect on what went wrong.

CHS is off until next Saturday, Apr. 14, when it travels to Friday Harbor.

As he surveyed the damage, Wolf coach Kevin McGranahan was clear-eyed and committed to making sure his players bounce back quickly and efficiently.

“Long story short, Forks hit the ball and we didn’t,” he said. “We ran into a very good team today and we have some things to work on.”

The Spartans (7-2), who compete in the brutal Evergreen League, where they clash with fellow 1A powerhouses like Montesano, Elma and Hoquiam, are GOOD.

And yes, that word was meant to be all caps.

Forks, one through nine, hits with precision and power, it rarely make mistakes in the field and it boasts five pitchers with top-level stuff.

So, even though Wolf hurlers Katrina McGranahan and Scout Smith weren’t off by much Saturday, to beat the Spartans you would have to be close to flawless.

And Coupeville, whether bothered by the wind, the precision of their visitors, or a little jet lag from playing five games in six days, was not flawless on this day.

Game 1:

Katrina McGranahan came out all guns blazing, whiffing the side in the first, en route to nine K’s in the game.

But then things fell apart for a bit in the second, as Forks used four hits, including one greatly helped by the wind, which caused a routine fly ball to madly curve away from a CHS fielder at the last second, to bust things open.

Down 4-0 and unable to muster much offense, the Wolves went 11 batters into the game before they got their first runner aboard.

That was Smith, who ripped a one-out single to straight-away center in the fourth.

When the wind died (for at least six seconds) and McGranahan immediately followed with her own base-knock to right, the hints of a rally begin to emerge.

Only to be promptly smashed, as Forks cut down the lead runner on a grounder off the bat of Sarah Wright, then escaped the inning with a strikeout.

The game got away from CHS after that, with the Spartans plating three in the fifth (including a long two-run home-run) and five more in the sixth to enact the mercy rule.

Smith added a second single, while freshman Mollie Bailey toasted a single to center to cap Coupeville’s limited four-hit attack.

Game 2:

If the offense was blunted in the opener, it was DOA the second time around, with a Lauren Rose single and a Bailey walk accounting for the only Wolf base-runners.

Forks methodically picked away, scoring runs in small clumps, with the only bright spot for Coupeville coming from its defense.

Emma Mathusek nailed a runner coming in to third with a throw from left, Rose devoured everything which came her way in the middle of the infield and CHS turned a tricky double-play to stuff a rally.

The play of the game came from McGranahan, who was manning shortstop with Smith in the pitcher’s circle.

While Forks kept 99% of their hits on the ground Saturday, one Spartan lofted a ball high into the swirling madness in the first inning.

Breaking from short, McGranahan had to fight the wind, which caused the ball to suddenly reverse course, and an ump who couldn’t seem to get out of her way as she charged in, veered, then dove face-first.

Spearing the ball in the very tip of her glove, she snagged the orb as it dropped like an anvil, then held on through the collision with the ground, earning easily the biggest cheer of the afternoon.

Heck, even the ump who made her job harder was smiling about the play afterwards – a small victory on a rough and tumble day.

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   Wolf girls hoops coaches David and Amy King have their squad smack-dab in the race for a fourth-straight Olympic League crown. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Biggest game of the year?

Biggest game of the year.

Both Coupeville High School varsity basketball teams face a major test next Friday, Jan. 26, with one Wolf team vying for a league title and the other fighting for its playoff life.

With finals going down next week at CHS, the Wolf athletic schedule is light, with just the one game.

After that, both squads cap the regular season the week of Jan. 29-Feb. 3 with three games in six days.

Friday’s bouts are the main attraction, though.

The Coupeville girls, who have overcome injuries and defections, are jelling and have won four of six heading into a home game against Port Townsend where the winner will have sole possession of first-place in the Olympic League.

For the Wolf boys, Friday is a tricky affair, as they both travel to face the RedHawks and have to win to keep their postseason dreams alive.

While girls basketball sends three teams to the playoffs this season, only two boys squads will punch a ticket in 2018.

As we prepare for RedHawkAgeddon, a look at varsity scoring and league standings through Jan. 21:

Girls:

Lindsey Roberts 123
Mikayla Elfrank 99
Sarah Wright 81
Ema Smith 64
Kyla Briscoe 58
Kalia Littlejohn 38
Scout Smith 36
Chelsea Prescott 27
Hannah Davidson 8
Allison Wenzel 3
Avalon Renninger 1

Boys:

Hunter Smith 296
Ethan Spark 188
Joey Lippo 75
Hunter Downes 42
Mason Grove 42
Cameron Toomey-Stout 24
Jered Brown 21
Kyle Rockwell 19
Dane Lucero 10
Gavin Knoblich 2
Ulrik Wells 2
Jacobi Pilgrim 1

Olympic League girls basketball:

School League Overall
COUPEVILLE 4-2 6-11
Port Townsend 4-2 6-9
Chimacum 3-3 6-9
Klahowya 1-5 3-12

Olympic League boys basketball:

School League Overall
Klahowya 5-1 10-7
Port Townsend 4-2 8-7
COUPEVILLE 3-3 5-11
Chimacum 0-6 0-10

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   Senior Lauren Rose had 13 assists and five aces Tuesday as first-place Coupeville crushed Chimacum. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Six players firing as one.

When they’re on, they’re on.

The Coupeville High School varsity volleyball squad has played seven regular-season matches this year, and six times they have left the court with a straight-sets win.

Tuesday was more of the same, as the Wolves overpowered visiting Chimacum in every aspect of the game, cruising to a 25-17, 25-9, 25-18 win which cemented Coupeville’s status as the front-runner in the Olympic League.

Now 4-0 in conference play, 6-1 overall, CHS sits a game-and-a-half up on Klahowya (2-1, 3-5), while Chimacum (1-3, 1-5) and Port Townsend (0-3, 1-6) bring up the rear.

The Wolves, who are chasing back-to-back league titles, have a two-week gap before any more league matches.

They’ll fill the time by facing off with a pair of 2A schools — Port Angeles on the road Oct. 5 and Sequim at home Oct. 10 — before playing their final five league matches between Oct. 17-28.

If Coupeville can keep things clicking at their current levels, or take it up a notch or two, it seems primed for a strong postseason run.

At their best, the Wolves are a lethal team from the service stripe, with two strong setters (Lauren Rose and Ashley Menges) setting up a squad of kill-happy snipers.

What few points Chimacum got Tuesday came more from Coupeville’s occasional over-eagerness to destroy the ball than anything the Cowboys were able to create.

The lone exception was junior outside hitter Renee Woods, who peppered the Wolves with several strong runs at the service line.

Coupeville countered with a team-wide ace explosion, raining down 22 of the beauties.

High-impact servers Hope Lodell and Payton Aparicio lashed six apiece, while knuckleballer Rose, who has never missed a serve in her entire life, added another five.

The Wolves never trailed for a single second in the match, running out to large leads in every set, and it started with their service game.

Take the first set, where Rose opened the night with a run of five straight points.

The first came on an emphatic stuff from a hyped-up Mikayla Elfrank, which sent a bolt of energy through the Wolf football team which had gathered to cheer on their classmates.

That was closely followed by Lodell cranking a winner while stuck in the middle of the court, and the winners just kept coming.

Numerous Wolves jumped into the fray in the early going, and they all seemed to have the golden touch.

Whether it was Katrina McGranahan with a tip which froze two Cowboys in place, Kyla Briscoe with a slicing kill that carved off a rival’s kneecap, or Emma Smith exploding a winner off the back line, if it came from Wolf fingertips, it was deadly and delightful.

Lodell closed the set with an eight-point run at the line, throwing herself skyward to unleash a series of crippling serves which left the increasingly frustrated Cowboys clawing helplessly at air as the ball skidded by their arms.

It wasn’t going to get any better from there for Chimacum, a competent but, at least on this night, not very inspired squad.

Coupeville, on the other hand, continually found new ways to delight its fans.

Super sophomore Scout Smith reached behind her head while airborne, corralled a ball, then flicked it forward for a surprise winner, while Emma Smith dipped to the floor to pull off a miracle save on a ball off the net.

Somehow keeping the rally alive, Emma Smith gave Aparicio time to arrive behind her with a full head of steam built up, and the senior sharpshooter ended the point with a bang, slugging the crud out of the ball.

While the CHS varsity has a senior-heavy roster, the young guns had their moment to shine, as well.

Sophomore Maya Toomey-Stout ran off nine straight points on her serve, with her play glistening as brightly as her new shoes, while freshman Chelsea Prescott made her varsity debut in the second set.

The Wolves capped things with another burst of creativity in the final set, mixing in the power of Briscoe and Elfrank, who were twin titans of terror, with a tip for a winner on which Emma Smith seemed to defy the laws of gravity.

Going airborne, the elegant warrior hung motionless for a lifetime, then, right before having to return to the surly confines of Earth, used a couple of graceful finger-tips to direct a wayward ball one way while the Cowboy defense went the other.

The match, which had been over for a long time prior, officially ended on yet another blow off the fist of Briscoe, who was one of five Wolves to collect four or more kills on the night.

McGranahan (5), Elfrank (5), Aparicio (4), Briscoe (4) and Scout Smith (4) took full advantage of the balls set up for them by Rose (13 assists) and Menges (12), who were on top of their game as a two-headed setter supreme.

Lodell and Aparicio paced the Wolves with three digs apiece. Though, to be honest, Coupeville spent very little time having to deal with any full-scale Chimacum attacks.

While there is always room for improvement, CHS coach Cory Whitmore wore a relaxed smile as he assessed his team’s performance.

“I felt like we had moments of brilliance,” he said. “We built momentum and finished strongly.

“I especially liked that when I called timeouts, they not only made the fixes we needed to, but they anticipated what I was going to say and were already prepared to correct what needed to be corrected.”

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