Lakeside stymied the normally explosive Eatonville Cruiser offense Friday as the No.5-seeded Eagles upset the No. 1-seeded Cruisers, 6-3, in the semifinals of the 2022 WIAA 1A State Championship tournament, ending Eatonville's season.
Lakeside’s Jade Williams held the Lady Cruisers to only three runs on nine hits as the Eagles derailed Eatonville's bid for a state title.
The Eagles put up three runs in the top of the first inning and two more in the second before the Cruisers scored.
Trailing 5-0, Eatonville finally scored in the bottom of the third inning. After a Hailey Rath triple, Mary Chabot doubled to center, scoring Rath and cutting into the Eagle's lead.
Lakeside added another run in the top of the fourth inning to increase its lead to 6-1.
The Cruisers struck back in the bottom half of that inning. With a runner on first, Charlie Smith launched a ball over the fence in centerfield for a two-run home run. Only one run was recorded as the runner on base failed to touch second as she headed toward home. The Lakeside coach appealed with the umpire, and the runner was called out, so only one run counted and inched the Cruisers closer at 6-2.
Eatonville scored one more run in the sixth inning when Berkeley Porter drove in Brooke Blocker to pull the Cruisers to 6-3.
In the final inning, Rath got on base to keep the Cruisers’ hopes alive, but she was stranded there, and Lakeside took the win.
That loss dropped the Cruisers into the consolation bracket where they defeated Hoquiam, 9-7, and Mount Baker, 13-7, to claim third place.
Besides notching the third place at state, the Cruisers have an Evergreen 1A League title and a Southwestern Washington 1A District IV title to add to their trophy case this season.
The team finished with a 22-5 record on the season.
"The last time the Lady Cruiser fastpitch team went to state was when four out of the five current seniors were freshmen,” head coach Jen Smith Said. “This year's team placed higher than any Cruiser fastpitch team before us. The thought was the sky was the limit for us [with] players coming into the program, and current players refined their skills, weight trained and got stronger and more confident. The next year COVID hit, we lost our season and said goodbye to some amazing athletes that graduated. The following year, last year, we had one of the most talented groups of softball players I had ever seen through and through, but we only had a total of 18 players turn out due to the season being a shortened season. That team only got to play 13 games, no districts, no state. It was quite the heartbreaker.”
Smith said the Cruisers started this season with low numbers again but built on its core.
“The mindset put forth was to be able to play on a freeway, meaning that things will come at us from all different directions and speeds, and we will need to be able to move forward positively,” Smith said. “Four of our girls knew what making it to state took and what it meant. The fire of how badly they wanted to make it there again resonated throughout the entire team. Game after game, we prepared, practiced and worked. These girls love the grind and have grit.”
Smith said, while the season had its “ups and downs,” it was mostly positive and entering state as the No. 1-seed was an advantage. She said the Cruisers entered state thinking claiming the title was a possibility.
“We are known for our bats, and I haven't heard or seen any other team do as much damage at the plate as us in 1A,” Smith said. “Watching film and talking with other coaches and players, I felt we would have some really close games and awesome competition”
She said the Cruisers’ first game at state, a 10-inning battle was the best, and it required all hands-on-deck to pull it off. Smith described the second game a heartbreaking, with a lot of errors, but the worst part was the loss took the Cruisers out of the running for the title.
Smith said the team rallied, however, and she “could not be prouder of these girls.”
“They dug deep, and in the final game, we played for our five seniors and took third,” she said. “These seniors and their families have been a part of Eatonville fastpitch from middle school through high school and will be missed incredibly on the high school field.”
Smith added that seven of the 12 Cruiser varsity players are either graduating or moving at the end of the school year.
“While I am so proud of these ladies, I do feel a sense of sadness,” Smith said. “I will miss their energy, knowledge of the game, craziness and ability to get things done.”
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