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Posts Tagged ‘state tourney’

Chloe Wheeler let her bat do her talking. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The quietest Wolf was loudest when it mattered most.

During the spring of 2019, I did something I haven’t done in the eight-year history of Coupeville Sports — attend every single game, home or away, for one team.

Writing this blog is a delicate, often tricky, balancing act, trying to be “fair” to all teams, and all sports.

You’ll always have some people who are grateful for whatever coverage their preferred rooting cause gets, and some who claim bias or neglect. It is what it is.

But in spring 2019, while still writing about every CHS track and field, baseball, tennis, and soccer contest — and attending a lot of those games and meets in person — I absolutely played favorites.

I hit the road with Darren and Kelly Crownover, parents of homer-thumping first-baseman Veronica, making it to every road game — even the ones rained out moments after we got there.

And, even when presented with multiple events on the same day here in Cow Town, I opted for the softball sluggers.

Turned out to be a smart choice, as that was the Wolf squad which went the furthest as a united team, returning to the state tourney for the first time in five seasons, and winning a game there for the first time since 2002.

As the guy forever hanging around the edge as CHS softball made its run, filled with a few heartrending losses, and a lot of epic wins, I had a chance to see the Wolf players in all their many moods.

Whether dancing on a rain-soaked field after a long, fruitless trip to Sultan, going bonkers after freshman Izzy Wells struck out the league’s most-dangerous slugger to cap the win which sent them to a league title, or just killing time on countless ferries, it was a team made up of wildly-diverse personalities.

One of my favorites quickly became Chloe Wheeler, a junior who bopped along like a feminine version of Matthew McConaughey, her grin often her only statement to the outside world.

As the season played out, I found out more about her — Darren Crownover can make anyone talk — and her plans for the future.

Chloe is highly-intelligent, a kind, caring young woman who proved on the diamond, and off, to be exceptionally-strong.

On a 2019 Wolf team which boasted the big bats of Sarah Wright and Veronica Crownover, and the explosive talents of young stars such as Chelsea Prescott and Scout Smith, she didn’t play every day.

But Chloe was ready every day.

Plug her in to the lineup, and she responded, giving you every ounce of hustle she had in the field and at the plate.

And, time and again, she proved to be an absolute killer in the spotlight.

A quiet assassin at the plate.

Her first high school hit was a thing of beauty, coming deep in the wilds at Granite Falls against the team which gave Coupeville its biggest struggle.

The Wolves and Tigers split four games in 2019, with CHS winning the last two, including a key playoff game which sent Granite home.

But, earlier in the season, as Coupeville tried to rally in the twilight, Chloe strode to the plate and launched a missile, rifling a two-run double to the deepest, darkest part of left field.

After watching her teammates struggle with the bat all afternoon, the quiet one mashed the crud out of the whirling orb, and it lit a fire under her fellow Wolves.

Hanging on the dugout fence, screaming Chloe’s name, they were reinvigorated, recharged, and rowdy as all get-out.

Granite Falls didn’t know it then, but what seemed like a surefire path to a league title and a trip to state for the Tigers vanished in that exact moment.

For the first time, you could see the Wolves really, truly no longer feared their hit-happy foes.

And, while that rally fell just short, they haven’t lost to Granite since.

As she quietly bounced on the bag at second, slight smile on her face, Chloe was already locked-in on CHS coach Kevin McGranahan, working over in the third-base coaching box.

Always ready, always watchful.

The moment was big, it was impactful, and it could have been the highlight of Chloe’s season.

But then she went to the biggest dance, and went bonkers.

Chloe started the state tourney on the bench, part of the support crew as Coupeville was drilled by eventual state champ Montesano.

Given a pinch-hit at-bat late in the game, however, she proved to be the one Wolf who was absolutely perfect against the reincarnation of the 1927 Yankees.

Breaking up Montesano’s bid for a shutout, and pissing off its thoroughly irritating coach, Chloe crunched an RBI single to right-center.

Her refusal to back down against a dominant team, and a loudly-braying coach, earned her the start in games #2 and #3 on a long day for Coupeville.

Chloe’s bat stayed scorchin’ down the stretch, as she racked up three more hits across a 14-2 demolishing of highly-ranked Deer Park and a gut-wrenching 8-6 loss to Cle Elum.

With four base-knocks in Richland, she had made a name for herself while the biggies in the sport watched.

After one of her hot smashes back up the middle, the coach from perennial power Castle Rock, camped in the bleachers during his team’s break, pointed at Chloe, and softly said something to his assistant.

The words were unclear, but the approval was obvious.

Coming within a play (or two, at most) of advancing to day two of state and likely earning some hardware, the Wolves capped the second-best performance in program history.

While there was sadness in the aftermath, there was hard-earned pride, and the unmistakable feeling this was the start of a run of success for the Wolf diamond queens.

Chloe likely would have been a full-time starter her senior year, and I firmly believe she was on her way to a true breakout season.

The pandemic denied her that opportunity, but her rep as a big-game killer was already set in stone.

When we talk about the highlights of CHS softball during its four-decade-plus run, Chloe Wheeler, the quiet assassin with the wicked bat, will forever hold a place in that conversation.

So today, we take a moment to pay tribute to her, inducting her into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame for being an inspiration to local athletes at every level.

She worked and she fought, and when Chloe got her chance, she made the absolute most of it. The way you hope every Wolf does.

After this, when you stroll past the top of the blog, you’ll find her hanging out under the Legends tab.

And why not? She earned it.

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Softball has the most-recent state tourney team win among Coupeville High School sports programs, thanks to the play of Mollie Bailey and friends. (Karen Carlson photo)

It’s been awhile.

The last time a Coupeville High School boys team won a game at the state tournament, in any sport, Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States.

The day was May 23, 1987 and the Wolf baseball team beat White Swan 2-0 as it wound its way to a 3rd place showing.

Since then, nada.

After beating White Swan, the ’87 CHS diamond men fell 14-7 to Morton, beginning what now sits at a 33-year streak without a team win in a state tourney game for Coupeville’s male athletes.

And I stress the word TEAM, as CHS sports programs where the athletes compete as individuals, have produced big success in that time, topped off by state champs in track and cross country.

Take a look at sports where success hinges on a team, however, and Wolf boys are in a long dry spell.

Wolf baseball (0-5), football (0-2), basketball (0-2), and soccer (0-2) have made it to the big dance multiple times in the past three decades, but none have won since ’87.

That has given the CHS girls a chance to play catch-up, and they have in a big way.

The ’87 baseball win was the fourth state tourney triumph by a Wolf boys team, while the Coupeville girls have now won 16 times.

The first victory came courtesy of the girls basketball squad in 2000, with the most recent W captured by the 2019 softball sluggers.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the first CHS team to make it to state, in any sport, the 1970 boys basketball team, it’s well past time for modern-day Wolf boys to recapture past glory.

Until they do, the stat sheet speaks for itself, and it tells us this — CHS girls rule the school.

 

State tourney history for CHS team sports (compiled by WIAA):

 

Baseball:

First trip: 1973
Most-recent trip: 2014
Total trips: 9
State tourney wins: 2
Schools beaten: Kittitas, White Swan
Best finish: 3rd in 1987

 

Boys Basketball:

First trip: 1970
Most-recent trip: 1988
Total trips: 5
State tourney wins: 2
Schools beaten: Columbia (Burbank), Montesano
Best finish: No trophies

 

Boys Soccer:

First trip: 2009
Most-recent trip: 2010
Total trips: 2
State tourney wins: None
Schools beaten: None
Best finish: No trophies

 

Football:

First trip: 1974
Most-recent trip: 1990
Total trips: 4
State tourney wins: None
Schools beaten: None
Best finish: No trophies

 

Girls Basketball:

First trip: 1998
Most-recent trip: 2016
Total trips: 7
State tourney wins: 7
Schools beaten: Freeman, Onalaska, Overlake, Winlock, River View, Cascade Christian, Zillah
Best finish: 6th in 2002

 

Softball:

First trip: 2002
Most-recent trip: 2019
Total trips: 3
State tourney wins: 5
Schools beaten: Cle Elum, Royal, Okanogan, Napavine, Deer Park
Best finish: 3rd in 2002

 

Volleyball:

First trip: 2001
Most-recent trip: 2017
Total trips: 5
State tourney wins: 4
Schools beaten: King’s, Freeman, Toutle Lake, Zillah
Best finish: No trophies

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Chloe Marzocca watches the ball fly far, far away. (Photos by Jackie Saia)

Foot firmly on the bag, Mia Farris beats the runner by a mile.

Madison McMillan has been a big-time cruncher at the plate for a high-scoring Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball squad.

Hammerhead catcher Brionna Blouin slaps the tag on a runner who maybe wishes she had stayed at third.

Jada Heaton looks down for the sign.

Slick-fielding Allison Nastali scoops up everything in the vicinity.

Hammerhead shortstop Taylor “The Beast” Brotemarkle unleashes the full fury of her nuclear-powered throwing arm.

Teagan Calkins dares the pitcher to try and throw the ball past her. “I will murder the freakin’ ball, lady, murder it!!”

We’re under 70 hours until the big dance kicks off.

The Central Whidbey Little League Majors softball squad, carrying a 17-2 record and a District 11 championship, opens play Saturday at the state championships.

The Hammerheads take the field at Snider Field in Poulsbo at 1 PM, facing North Kitsap, District 2 champs and tourney hosts.

Win or lose, Central Whidbey plays again Sunday as its winds its way through the double-elimination bracket.

With a victory over North Kitsap, the Hammerheads would face District 3 champs Montesano at noon.

Fall on day one, and Central Whidbey finds itself in a must-win scenario Sunday at 3:00 against either District 10’s Bonney Lake/Sumner or District 8’s Northeast Seattle.

The tournament stretches all the way out to July 7, with the state champ earning an invite to regionals in California.

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Coupeville players head to the field Friday in Ephrata, ready for the start of the Babe Ruth baseball state tourney. (Heidi Roberts photo)

They didn’t buckle.

Facing the defending state champs, down a game after suffering their first loss of the season and enduring temps soaring towards 100 in Ephrata, the Coupeville Babe Ruth baseball squad rallied Friday to keep its dream alive.

After dropping a 3-2 heartbreaker in extra innings to kick off the state tourney, the Wolves roared back to blast Columbia Basin 6-2 in the afternoon tilt.

With the win, Coupeville improves to 17-1 on the season and sits one win from being hailed as the state champs in the 13-15 classification.

The two teams will play a third and deciding game 9 AM Saturday (likely in cooler temps), with the victor punching its ticket to the Pacific NW Regional Tournament in Portland, Oregon.

Columbia Basin is one of the biggies in Babe Ruth baseball, having won three straight and four of the last five 13-15 state titles.

That pedigree didn’t scare Coupeville, however, which wants to capture the town’s first state title since the 2010 Central Whidbey Little League Juniors baseball squad achieved that feat.

The Wolves survived a buzzsaw in game one, whiffing 13 times on pitches by Columbia Basin hurler Kevin Rexes, yet never falling out of the game.

Coupeville flame-thrower Daniel Olson was on point himself, putting nine rivals down on K’s, and the game remained close from start to finish.

The defending champs pushed a run across in the second, but the Wolves responded at the last moment, knotting the game at 1-1 with a run in the top of the seventh.

Olson walked, pilfered two bags, then zipped home on a passed ball to send the game to extra innings.

Things got interesting there, with Coupeville taking its first lead of the game on an RBI single off the bat of Scott Hilborn.

The base-knock brought Cody Roberts home, and brought the Wolf faithful to their feet in anticipation of the team’s 17th straight win.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Columbia Basin rallied for the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the inning, using three walks and two Wolf errors to bust open the game.

The loss came despite Coupeville out-hitting its foes, raining down six hits to four.

Roberts, Gavin Knoblich, Ulrik Wells, Hilborn, Olson and Ashton Leland shared the hot bats, each chipping in with a hit apiece.

With their season on the line, the Wolves responded, with their bats heating up under blazing skies.

A three-run second-inning burst, fueled by singles from Olson and Johnny Carlson and fast feet on the base-paths, put Coupeville ahead to stay and it coasted home behind the one-two punch of hurlers Leland and Roberts.

Once again, the Wolves spread out the love, with eight different batters ringing up a base-knock.

Hawthorne Wolfe and Xavier Murdy, who ran wild on the bases, led the way, with Wells, Carlson, Olson, Hilborn, Drake Borden and Leland chipping in to the team effort.

Coupeville, which is coached by Steve Hilborn and also includes Chelsea Prescott, Andrew Score and Sage Sharp on its roster, roared through the regular season, going 16-0.

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   Coupeville’s Sage Renninger (left), Ken Stange and Payton Aparicio are off to Yakima this weekend for the 1A state girls tennis tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, at least no one gets to play in their backyard.

When Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger pile into a van with Coupeville High School tennis coach Ken Stange and head off to the state tourney this weekend, they’ll have a long drive.

It’s 192.4 miles from Cow Town to Yakima, and the duo will be the first Wolf girls double team to make the trek in a decade.

But, at the least, their first-round foes in the double-elimination draw, Sierra Rothlisberger and Madeline Peebles of Chelan, have to travel 138.6 miles.

Win or lose, Aparicio and Renninger are guaranteed a second match Friday, and it will be against either defending state champs Amanda Lin and Maria Russinovich of Overlake or Kaylee Schow and Ally Vestal of Tenino.

Those duos are trekking 141.2 and 165.7 miles one-way, respectively, so no one can really fall back on the excuse of tired legs.

What the Wolves will face is temps expected to be in the 90’s and unfamiliar foes.

The duos headed to state whom Aparicio and Renninger have played — Mary Zisette and Alison Papritz of South Whidbey and Grace and Kate Jung of Cascade Christian — are on the other side of the 16-team draw.

In an intriguing twist, the Falcon duo will also face a Chelan team, made up of Elle Rothlisberger (younger sister of Sierra) and Bella Gatzemier.

The Mountain Goats (yes, that is Chelan’s mascot, and yes, it’s awesome) hail from the 1A Caribou Trail League and the Rothlisberger sisters are coached by dad Marty.

Depending on how they do, Aparicio and Renninger will play between 2-3 matches Friday. Make it to Saturday and they are guaranteed a top-eight finish, and the medals that come with that.

As the duo prepare for their final run as prep netters, a look at the pertinent details:

 

What:

1B/2B/1A girls tennis state tournament

 

Where:

Yakima Tennis Club
2505 Fruitvale Blvd
http://www.yakimatennis.com/

 

When:

May 25-26

 

Ticket prices:

It’s FREE … if you go all the way to Yakima.

 

WIAA tournament central site:

http://wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=1163

 

Draw:

http://wiaa.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=1772

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