WALLA WALLA - The defending Washington Class 4A softball champions began defense of their title here Tuesday in a delayed season opener.
Wa-Hi lost its opening weekend trip to Vancouver, Wash., and Seattle to the elements, and had to play through the rain Tuesday, but the Blue Devils appeared ready to defend their championship.
Wa-Hi banged out 11 hits, got a two-hit shutout from Alyson Ambler in the circle, and defeated Southridge 17-0 in the non-league opener.
The nightcap of the twin bill was postponed by the rain.
"We finally got the season started," Wa-Hi coach Jerry Humphreys said. "It was great to play and see another pitcher other than ours.
"It was miserable weather," he added. "The kids on both sides showed some toughness to come out and play regardless."
It didn't take long for the Blue Devils to establish the tone. Ambler worked a 1-2-3 first inning.
The first three Blue Devil hitters drew walks and leadoff-hitter Libby Jimenez scored the first run after Andrea Hamada ran into a run-down and stayed in it long enough for Jimenez to score, and Hamada got back to first safely.
Kendsey Hill did the rest as the Blue Devil catcher rocked one over the left-center fence for a three-run home run, and Wa-Hi took control.
"Kendsey Hill set the tone with that bomb she got," Humphreys said. "She really got a hold of that thing and got things started when it was still a game."
Mattie Smyth's second hit of the game knocked in a second-inning Blue Devil run and Wa-Hi took an 8-0 lead to the third.
Singles by Jordana Storm and Jimenez, and a walk to Hamada, started the Wa-Hi third. Ambler took an off-speed pitch and cleared the bases with an opposite field triple as Wa-Hi upped the lead to 14-0.
"Our kids did well today waiting and hitting off-speed pitches," Humphreys said. "We haven't been really great at that in the past. It was fun to see, this early in the season, that they were able to see and adjust."
TraeAnn Payne's two-run fourth inning double knocked home the last two Blue Devil runs to cap the 17-0 win.
In the circle, Ambler gave up a bloop single to Chelsey Klepper in the second, and Sarah Gilliam drove a single down the third base line in the Suns' fifth, but that was all the offense they mustered.
Ambler completed the five-inning shutout with 11 strikeouts and no walks.
"I'm not sure she (Ambler) was able to give every thing she had," Humphreys said. "But, she did a super job given the tough conditions."
The finale of the twin bill has not been set, and the Blue Devils travel to Pendleton Friday.
Wa-Hi 17, Southridge 0
Southridge 000 00 - 0 2 6
Wa-Hi 626 3X - 17 11 0
Randles, Gilliam (1) and Meyer, Klepper (2); Ambler and Hill.
HR - Wa-Hi: Hill.
Hits - SR: Klepper, Gilliam; Wa-Hi: Hill, Rassbach 2, Smyth 2, Jimenez, Ambler, Storm 2, Payne, Hamada.