SPOKANE — All Wa-Hi needed was a run.
One run, and they’d be on to today’s 4A state softball championship game.
And with Alyson Ambler at the plate, one out and no hits so far, they got what they needed.
Ambler beamed a high pitch to far left field for a solo home run in the fourth inning, while Hope Klicker and the Blue Devils defense kept the Storm scoreless in Wa-Hi’s 1-0 win over Skyview Saturday morning.
The home run and win move them to the championship at 3 p.m. today vs. the winner of the Marysville-Pilchuck/Woodinville matchup, which wasn’t over when Wa-Hi was done.
"That was big," said a pleased Jerry Humphreys of Ambler’s solo shot, unwilling to get too excited before this afternoon’s game. "She had two strikes and got a good hit into the wind. Alyson has been clutch all weekend."
It was Ambler’s second home run and fourth RBI in the Blue Devils’ three games so far this weekend. Ambler was the Big Nine 4A player of the year for her work in the circle and at the plate.
But Hope Klicker pitched this shutout, allowing Skyview two hits and no runs. Klicker had nine strikeouts in the game, bringing her weekend total to 20. Ambler will likely pitch the championship game today.
Skyview’s leadoff batter, Madison Anthony, made it to first on an error, stole second and reached third on another Wa-Hi infield error with two outs. But Klicker sat down the final Storm batter of the inning to hold it scoreless.
The Storm never got closer. Anthony singled again in the top of the sixth and made it to second on a sacrifice bunt, but a nice 2-4-6 — Kendsey Hill-Libbie Jimenez-Ashley Bezdicek — move caught Anthony between second and third, outsting her on a dive to the third bag for the third out.
Klicker faced three batters in the top of the seventh, striking out the first, while the next two hit a grounder and infield fly to end the inning and send Wa-Hi to the game for the state title.
Wa-Hi made good connections with the ball, answered by Skyview’s solid defense.
Jimenez had a long outfield swing, caught by the Storm’s Emily Dobbin with a running catch. Without that catch, it might’ve been Wa-Hi’s second home run on the day.
"I thought (Skyview) played terrific defense," Humphreys said. "They made all the plays they were supposed to. I’m proud of the girls — they were patient at the plate and hitting, it was just tough to find the gap."
Storm pitcher Michelle Brinceford struck out five Blue Devils.
And with an ump calling high, wide balls strikes, both teams had to adjust.
"They’ve been playing for long enough that they know the strike rule in the rulebook and what the ump calls isn’t always the same," Humphreys said. "They know to adjust at the plate."
The Blue Devils placed third at state the last two years in a row. This year, they’re guaranteed nothing less than second.
And with a few hours between games, the team is heading back to its hotel to watch the NCAA college softball championships before taking the field in their own championship.
"We’re looking forward to it," Humphreys said, returning to his team and his fans.
KTEL (AM-1490) is broadcasting all of Wa-Hi’s state championship games on the radio and website www.1490ktel.com.
Walla Walla 1, Skyview 0
Skyview 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Wa-Hi 000 100 x — 1 3 2
Brinceford and Lies. Klicker and Hill.
HR — Wa-Hi: Ambler.
Hits: Skyview: Anthony, Schaub. Wa-Hi: Ambler, Hartford, Hamada.