Blue Devil softballers bulldoze through Districts

Wa-Hi advances to regional play after cruising past Wenatchee and rival Richland.

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PASCO - Wa-Hi took another step in its defense of its state title here Saturday at the Pasco Trac facility in district softball play.

The Blue Devils got a combined no-hitter from Alyson Ambler and Jordan Heiser to defeat Wenatchee 9-0 and earn a shot to defend its 2011 district title.

Wa-Hi hit three bombs and defeated Richland 9-2 to repeat as district champions.

"We knew going into it (district) that we needed to do our job to win," Blue Devil shortstop Libbie Jimenez said. "This is only one step closer. We got her (winning district) done, but we're here to play for the state championship."

With the district title, Wa-Hi takes the Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A No. 1 seed into regional play. The Blue Devils open regional play in Spokane Saturday at 2 p.m.

"We'll enjoy this for today," Blue Devil coach Jerry Humphreys said. "Then we'll look forward to the next one."

Wa-Hi 9, Richland 2

Richland's Bailey Walthers greeted Ambler with a double to open the championship game. Cydney Elgin attempted to sacrifice Walthers to third, but Wa-Hi third baseman Andrea Hamada made a diving catch of the bunt and Elgin never got closer, as Ambler got the next two Bombers.

Jimenez led off for Wa-Hi with a double to right center. Hamada moved her to third with a bunt.

"I tried to set the tone," Jimenez said of her lead-off double. "Anything helps against those guys."

Ambler followed with a line drive over the left field fence and Wa-Hi took the lead for good at 2-0.

"I was pumped for it," Ambler said of facing the only team to defeat Wa-Hi this season. "We were confident and ready to go at them. I was looking for something up that I could drive because I knew I had to get Libbie home. I know what Paige (Goulet, Richland's starting pitcher) throws and it was there and I was looking for a line drive and it just happened to go out.

"It (the 2-run home run) gave our team a little more swagger than their team at that point," Ambler continued. "From there, we knew it was going to be our game."

Goulet fought back and retired six Blue Devils in a row before issuing a four-pitch walk to Ambler to lead off the Blue Devil fourth.

Kendsey Hill followed the walk with a two-run home run and Wa-Hi was in control with a 4-0 lead.

"I've been struggling with my hitting and knew I had to come out and help my team," Hill said. "It felt really good to get that home run especially against Richland because of what happened last time (a 13-5 Bomber win). We wanted to get the job done this time."

Jacie McDaniels and Jordie Storm had back-to-back triples to chase Goulet from the circle with two outs in the Wa-Hi fourth. Jimenez greeted Kayla Andrews with a RBI single and Wa-Hi hung a five spot on the board to lead 7-0 after four.

TraeAnn Payne capped a two-run Wa-Hi fifth with a solo shot to left and the Blue Devils led 9-0.

It was more than enough for Ambler.

After the Bomber double to open the game, Ambler allowed only a seeing-eye ground ball base hit to Monique Deffenbaugh in the Bomber third and took a 9-0 lead to the Bomber sixth.

Dora Hernandez ended the shutout with a drive that stayed just fair down the right field line and went for a two-run Bomber home run.

"She (Ambler) is good at handling stuff under pressure," Wa-Hi catcher Hill said of the home run. "I told her ‘we're up by nine and it's not that big of a deal."

Ambler got a strike out to end the Bomber threat and, with help from her defense - two plays by shortstop Jimenez and a diving catch by first baseman Ellie Rassbach - worked a perfect seventh to secure the district title.

"We did our work on offense to afford a mistake," Ambler said of the sixth inning Bomber rally. "It was like ‘if it happens, it happens,' and we move on."

Ambler finished with a complete game four hitter and eight strikeouts.

"The umpire's strike zone was a little tight and we had to work around that," Hill said. "We weren't really going for strikeouts, we knew they were good hitters and we couldn't strike them all out, so we wanted to pitch to their weakness. We used the rise ball a lot as they (Bomber hitters) crowd the plate and throwing that (rise ball) really gets them."

"Alyson was awesome," Humphreys said. "She's showing why she's going to a big time school to play big time softball."

Wa-Hi avenges its only loss with the 9-2 win and will take a 21-1 record to regionals.

"We jumped right on them (Richland)," Humphreys said. "The kids have been anxious to come back and play ever since we played them last time. To be anxious to do it and come through and execute, it was a good day."

Wa-Hi 9, Wenatchee 0

In the district opener the Blue Devils pounded out 13 hits, scored in four of the first five innings, and got the combined no-no from Ambler and Heiser.

"Wenatchee always batttles," Humphreys said. "It was good to just keep adding on."

Jimenez led the Blue Devils as she walked twice, singled, and scored three runs from her lead off spot in the line up.

"As leadoff, it's my job to see as many pitches to give my teammates an idea of what the pitcher is throwing," Jimenez said. "When I get on base, I'm thinking ‘I've got to score'. I need to be aggressive and kind of cautious at the same time."

Hamada collected three hits, Janelle Hartford added two, Storm had two, and Rassbach hit her first home run of the season with one-out in the Blue Devil fifth.

In the circle, Ambler went four hitless innings and struck out five. Heiser finished the no-hitter with three scoreless and struck out the side to end it and run her strike out total to five.

"She (Heiser) is doing a super job," Humphreys said. "On any other team that we play, she's going to be a starting pitcher. We're real fortunate to have her. We have confidence in her and she has done a great job in the role she has."

Wa-Hi 9, Richland 2

Richland 000 002 0 - 2 4 2

Wa-Hi 200 520 X - 9 8 0

Goulet, Andrews (4) and Utecht, Oleson (5), Utecht (6); Ambler and Hill.

HR - RHS: Hernandez; Wa-Hi: Ambler, Hill, Payne.

Hits - RHS: Walthers, Deffenbaugh, Hernandez, Utecht; Wa-Hi: Jimenez 2, Ambler, Hill, Rassbach, McDaniels, Storm, Payne.

Wa-Hi 9, Wenatchee 0

Wenatchee 000 000 0 - 0 0 3

Wa-Hi 202 320 X - 9 13 1

Craddock, Marker (4) and Weigel; Ambler, Heiser (5) and Hill.

HR - Wa-Hi: Rassbach.

Hits - Wenatchee: none; Wa-Hi: Jimenez, Hamada 3, Smyth, Hill 2, Payne, Hartford 2, Storm 2, Rassbach.

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