LACEY — When the Bainbridge Spartans softball team needed runs, their bats answered.
Bainbridge went 2-1 on the first day of the Class 3A state tournament at the Regional Athletic Complex Friday.
Their day started bright and early — the team bus left the island at 6 a.m. — but a slow start against Edmonds-Woodway in its opener put Bainbridge behind 6-1. EW won 6-4, sending the Spartans into the loser’s bracket against Juanita. Bainbridge won 9-2 and then staved off elimination once again with a 6-1 win over Kelso.
“Seeing the difference from game one, to game two to even game three it’s like you can see they flipped a switch,” said Bainbridge coach Haylee Baker.
Baker and assistant coach Brittany Wisner — part of the 2009 Spartan team that won the 3A title — said they talked to the players about what they wanted to accomplish.
Start competing, or go home.
“We can’t just be satisfied with making it to state,” Baker said.
The wins mean the Spartans will be playing on the second day of the tournament for the first time in at least four seasons. Bainbridge takes on Yelm in a win-or-go-home game at 9 a.m. A third-place trophy is the goal and the Spartans will need to win all three of its loser-out games Saturday to get the job done.
Senior catcher Maddie Loverich, who will play at Linfield College next season, couldn’t shake the smile off her face, nor did she want to, when describing what it meant to make it past the first day.
“I’m super excited about it and since it’s my last year that adds an extra incentive to keep going and not just roll over in the morning,” Loverich said.
Against Juanita, the Rebels took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run home run by Sasha Mitchell. The Spartans cut the lead to 2-1 thanks to Abigail Sullivan’s run-scoring sacrifice. A double by Loverich in the top of the third tied the game and a Sara Colley RBI single gave Bainbridge a 4-2 lead.
But it was the bat of Loverich that put the game out of reach when she hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth with one out to make it 9-2.
“I definitely don’t think she meant to throw it where the threw it,” Loverich said of the pitch. “It was kind of a fat pitch. It was nice to have in that situation. It was one of those that you see and it felt really solid, so it was good.”
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Loverich said it helps to be a catcher and know the strike zone and what pitch is likely coming to her in that situation with the bases loaded and one out.
“She’s so clutch,” Baker said. “That just kind of put it in the bag.”
Senior center fielder Morgan Lassoff, who was on base when Loverich hit her home run to center field, said she only hesitated for a moment before she knew the ball was gone.
“It went over and I just started jumping up and down,” she said. “(Maddie’s) been hitting clutch forever and she can just smack the crap out of the ball.”
Errors plagued Bainbridge in all three of its games, and Baker said it’s all about having short memory when it comes to making mistakes.
“I always tell them to flush it and move on,” she said. “The longer you hold onto it the more it’s going to affect you negatively. If you make a mistake you’ve got to make up for it in other ways.”
Timely hits were a perfect anecdote, especially against Kelso. Bainbridge took a 2-0 lead in the third before the Hilanders scored on throwing errors by the Spartans to make it 2-1. A bloop single by Lassoff in the fifth was followed by Malia Peato reaching first on a Kelso error and a Loverich RBI groundout to score Lassoff for a 3-1 cushion.
— Annette Griffus (@AnnetteWSSports) May 26, 2018
Bainbridge added two more runs in the sixth on a Sara Colley two-run single for a 5-1 lead. The Spartans added one more on a Ruby Raymundo blooper to short center field that would prove to be the end of the scoring. Peato earned her second win of the day when the pitcher forced the final batter to hit straight to third baseman Anna Kozlosky who easily stepped on the bag to end the game.
“For our second and third game it was good to get those timely hits,” Lassoff said. “It wasn’t only me, it was the entire lineup getting on base.”
Now it’s a matter of keeping it going and not letting another early morning wake up call hinder Bainbridge’s goal.
“A trophy is a trophy,” Lassoff said.