WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi celebrated Senior Day by ending its softball regular season on Friday with a share of the Big Nine Conference 4A championship after a doubleheader sweep of Wenatchee, 13-4 and 6-0, at Murr Sports Park.
Hope Klicker, one of three Blue Devil seniors honored between games of the twin bill along with Ashley Bezdicek and Savanah Scarborough, struck out 13 batters in the opener and Alyson Ambler fanned 17 in the nightcap while fashioning a two-hitter.
The Blue Devils, ranked second in the latest Class 4A state poll, tied Richland for the league title and will take a 19-1 overall record into district tournament action next week.
"The kids played hard," Wa-Hi coach Jerry Humphreys said. "They have their eye on achieving and it shows in the way they play. They're always wanting to leave no doubt that they are a quality team."
Wa-Hi catapulted to an 8-0 lead after two innings of game one. Andrea Hamada started things off with a two-run, inside-the-park home run to right field in the first inning.
The Blue Devils tacked on six more tallies during inning two. Mariah Gerling began the scoring with an RBI single. Libbie Jimenez stroked a two-run hit, Hamada lifted a sacrifice fly, Ambler drilled a run-scoring double, and Trae Payne looped an RBI single to center.
Wenatchee's Lindy Holmberg belted a three-run homer to straight-away center in the third to get the Panthers on the board.
Wa-Hi responded with two runs in the fourth. The first came across on an illegal pitch and the latter scored on a Klicker sacrifice fly.
The Panthers got one in the fifth before the Blue Devils ended the scoring in the bottom half of the inning on an Ambler double, a wild pitch and an infield safety by Payne.
Klicker blasted a two-run homer to left in the first inning of game two and added an RBI grounder as part of a four-run second frame.
Gerling contributed a run-producing single in the second.
"It was really fun. I had a good time," said Klicker, who plans to continue here softball career at the College of Charleston. "It's surreal. It's hard to explain what it feels like. It's a special memory I'll have the rest of my life."
"It's exciting to go out this way," said the Pierce Community College-bound Bezdicek. "It's sad. I'll miss playing here. I'm going to miss these girls."
"It's nice that we still have district and (the chance to) go farther," Scarborough said. "I love all the girls."
Ambler, a junior, is looking forward to the future.
"I think about it all the time," Ambler said of a senior leadership role she'll assume in 2012. "It seems like I just started. We've got some good juniors.
"It's kind of weird - seeing that Hope is a senior," Ambler said. "It's depressing, but in a good way."
District play commences Thursday with a pair of eliminations games. Wenatchee hosts Chiawana and Eisenhower travels to Moses Lake.
From there, activity will shift to top-seeded Richland on Saturday. Wa-Hi, as the No. 2 tournament seed, will oppose the Wenatchee-Chiawana survivor and the top-seeded Bombers will take on either Moses Lake or Ike.
Three teams will move on to regional competition the following weekend.
Wenatchee 003 010 0 - 4 4 3
Wa-Hi 260 230 x - 13 16 0
Marker, Holzerland (3) and Holzerland, Weigel (3); Klicker and Hill, McDaniels (4), Hill (6).
HR - Wenatchee: Holmberg; Wa-Hi: Hamada.
Hits - Wenatchee: Holmberg 2, Rader, Holzerland; Wa-Hi: Hamada 3, Payne 3, Ambler 2, Hartford 2, Bezdicek 2, Jimenez 2, Hill, Gerling.
Wenatchee 000 000 0 - 0 2 4
Wa-Hi 204 000 x - 6 8 0
Craddock and Holzerland; Ambler and Hill.
HR - Wa-Hi: Klicker.
Hits - Wenatchee: Douglas, Rader; Wa-Hi: Ambler 2, Gerling 2, Bezdicek 2, Klicker, Hamada.