Blue Devils crush Chiawana in MCC softball openers

Wa-Hi pitcher Ellie Rassbach on a roll as she delivers a 5th inning strike and helps secure the Blue Devils' 11-0 5-inning win over visiting Chiawana on Friday afternoon.

Wa-Hi pitcher Ellie Rassbach on a roll as she delivers a 5th inning strike and helps secure the Blue Devils' 11-0 5-inning win over visiting Chiawana on Friday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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WALLA WALLA — On Tuesday Walla Walla High School picked up its first loss of the season to Class 1A Connell because of dominant pitching — the Blue Devils ran into BYU softball commit Ashley Thompson in a 5-0 loss.

On Friday it was Wa-Hi that had dominant pitching as the Blue Devils made Chiawana look like a Class 1A program in an 11-0 and 7-1 Mid-Columbia Conference walloping.

In game one Ellie Rassbach pitched a complete five innings, striking out seven and issuing no walks while giving up just two hits in earning the shutout.

“She’s doing great for us this year,” Wa-Hi coach Kate Keyes said of Rassbach. “She seems to be controlling the pace of the game and getting a lot of strikeouts for us in clutch situations — not necessarily continuously, but she’ll get a lot of ground balls and the defense backed her up well tonight.”

And in the nightcap sophomore pitcher Kate Ferenz, who also went 5-for-6 at the plate on the day, gave up just one run after scattering seven hits over seven innnings and issuing one walk.

Meanwhile the Blue Devils backed up their pitchers with a solid day at the plate, getting 23 hits.

Ferenz was one of the most productive, falling just shy of batting for the cycle in game one with a single, double and triple. She finished with two RBIs.

“She had a great day at the plate,” Keyes said of Ferenz. “She was able to put the ball in play — hard ground balls up the middle — and that was exactly what we needed. Some of the girls it seemed like they just couldn’t get it out of the air and she kept it (down) and put it in play. It was great for us.”

The Blue Devils hit for power on the whole, with Rassbach collecting two doubles and a triple, Carly Clark a double, Jacie McDaniels a double and a triple, and Mattie Smyth a triple.

Wa-Hi didn’t score in the first inning of the opener, but, after a groundout to open the second, five straight batters reached base. Rassbach, Smyth, Ferenz, Kendall Davis and Jordie Storm all had hits in a three-run rally.

It was a similar story in the bottom of the third, with Wa-Hi scoring four runs on four hits and two walks before Chiawana pitcher Jackie Martin was replaced with an out left in the inning.

Her replacement, Kimberly Poma, struggled to find the vicinity of the strike zone, but got out of the inning after issuing a walk and getting a popout.

Wa-Hi poured it on the fourth, crossing the 10-run mercy-rule threshold with four runs on four hits and a walk.

Martin got the start again for Chiawana in the nightcap and, although she was able to throw strikes, it looked like the Blue Devils would cruise to another five-inning win after scoring five runs in the first two innings.

But an illegal substitution and a baserunner interference call in the bottom of the third robbed Wa-Hi of a pair of runs and seemed to give the Riverhawks new life.

After a pair of singles to lead off the inning, Sydney Schultz subbed in for Kendall Davis and hit a run-scoring single. But the substitution wasn’t announced, and after Chiawana coach Paul Antonovich protested, she was ruled out and the runners returned to their bases.

After a pop-out for the second out of the inning, Kendsey Hill hit a hard grounder up the middle, but the ball struck Maddie Aichele’s ankle as she headed for third and Aichele was called out for interference to end the inning.

“Anything like that, it affects the whole team,” Keyes said of the odd outs in the third. “A decision or an error by anybody affects the whole team. But they (the Blue Devils) did a great job of bouncing back and coming back with their bats and staying in it mentally and just having a good attitude.”

After that Wa-Hi managed just two more runs over the remaining three innings — McDaniels scored in the fourth on her own double and an error and again in the sixth on a base hit and a Rassback triple.

Chiawana scored its only run of the day in the top of the sixth, pushing catcher Maddie Heine home after she singled with an Ashley Ellison single to left field.

The Blue Devils (3-1, 2-0 MCC) next host a single game against Pendleton Tuesday at 4 p.m. and get back to MCC action with a 4 p.m. game against Kamiakin Friday.

First game

Chiawana 000 00 — 0 2 0

Wa-Hi 034 4X — 10 12 0

Martin, Poma (3) and Heine. Rasbach and Hill.

Hits — Chiawana: Heine; Walla Walla: Storm 2, Rassbach 2, Smyth 2, Clark, Ferenz 3, Davis 2.

Second game

Chiawana 000 001 0 — 1 7 1

Walla Walla 230 101 X — 7 11 1

Martin and Ellison. Ferenz and Hill.

Hits — Chiawana: Weber 2, Heine 2, Sanaski 2, Ellison. Walla Walla: Hill, McDaniels 3, Rassbach 3, Ferenz 2, Aichele, Davis.

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