Touchet softball team can't look ahead to rival Colton

Touchet plays Thorp in the first round of the Class 1B state tournament Friday.

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Touchet pitcher Nicole Brown leads the Indians into the state Class 1B tournament against Thorp at 1 p.m. Friday at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.

TOUCHET - There is a pretty good chance Touchet and Colton will write another chapter in their Class 1B softball rivalry this weekend at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.

But the Indians and the Wildcats, who will be representing the Southeast 1B District in the eight-team small-school state tournament, will have to guard against looking ahead.

The Indians are matched against Thorp in a first-round game Friday while the Wildcats, in the opposite bracket, take on Lake Quinault. Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m. starts.

Assuming they both win, Touchet will meet either Cusick or Highland Christian and Colton will take on either Sunnyside Christian or Almira-Coulee-Hartline in 5 p.m. semifinal contests that same day.

The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m.

Colton defeated Touchet 13-1 here a year ago to decide the 1B state title. They've met four times this season - twice in the regular season and again in the district and regional tournament championship games - and the Wildcats have won three of those games.

The teams split a regular-season doubleheader in Touchet - 8-4 for the Wildcats and 7-4 for the Indians - and they shared the Southeast 1B District regular-season championship with identical 7-1 records. Colton then prevailed 3-2 in eight innings in the district finals and 7-6 in eight innings to decide the regional title.

"You would think the law of averages is on our side," veteran Touchet coach Gary Dorman said. "But you can call heads a lot of times and get tails, so we're not going to look at it that way.

"We do know that we are going to have to win two games to get to them, and I don't know one thing about the teams we are going to play. But, yeah, I would love to play them again."

The Indians enter the state tournament with a 21-4 record and are in search of their first state championship since 2008. They were previously state champs four times during the slow-pitch era and have finished second twice since the state switched to fast-pitch in 2002.

Dorman believes that pitching is the strength of this year's team with junior Stephanie Samuels, sophomore Nicole Brown and freshman Megan Reed all taking turns in the circle.

"Our pitchers have all been so effective," Dorman said. "To go through the season with a combined four losses and splitting our pitching up pretty evenly between three pitchers says something. They've all done an effective job."

And Dorman doesn't intend to stray far from that format at state.

"We will probably continue with a three-girl rotation in some way," the coach said. "We could rotate them by innings, or by games. It all depends on situations."

Dorman considers Brown his No. 1 pitcher because of her speed.

"She works real hard, she's been real steady and she is the hardest thrower of the three." Dorman said of the sophomore. "But throwing hard doesn't always mean success."

Freshman catcher Cheyenne Kessler is the Indians' leading hitter with a .460 batting average and a couple of home runs.

"She is a real threat for us any time she is up there," Dorman said. "Actually, up and down our lineup, we are hitting close to .400. These last three weeks we've been hitting the ball real well."

There are four seniors on the roster. Zoe Weaver starts in center field, Tiera Kessler in right field, Meghan Cantrell at second base and Haley Owens is the first outfielder off the bench.

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