WALLA WALLA — The last time DeSales High School’s softball team played Waitsburg-Prescott, the Irish swept W-P by a combined score of 16-1.
The sailing wasn’t quite as smooth Friday at the District 9 Class 2B tournament, as W-P capsized the Irish yacht, 3-2, in eight innings to take the district title and hand DeSales its first loss to a league opponent this season.
Dayton defeated Asotin 6-5 in the consolation title to place third after falling to W-P in a 10-9 heartbreaker in the semifinals.
DeSales cruised past Asotin in the semis, hammering 13 hits en route to an 11-1 mercy-rule shortened game.
All four teams who made the round of four Friday at the Mill Creek Sports Complex advanced to a regional tournament against the top four teams from District 7 in Spokane Saturday at Merkel Field.
The eight-team tourney is a double elimination affair and the top six teams will advance to state, meaning a team must win only one game to at least guarantee itself of a state berth.
W-P, as the district champion, will take the first seed to regionals, DeSales second, and so forth.
W-P 3, DESALES 2
DeSales (17-5) opened scoring in the district championship game with a run in the second inning.
Allesyn Lyons hit into a fielder’s choice on a bunt and scored on a Bri James single up the middle with two outs. The Irish stranded runners at second and third as Teresa Acock, a switch-hitting slapper, was called out for exiting the batter’s box early for the third out of the inning.
W-P (13-7) answered with a pair of runs in the away third, as leadoff batter Samantha Henze reached on a rare DeSales error and Loegan Harshman batted her in with a single to right field in the next at bat. Harshman came around to score when catcher Chelsey Brannock knocked another base hit up the middle.
W-P also left runners on the bags, however, as DeSales pitcher Ashlyn Lyons sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a walk to end the inning.
DeSales knotted the game at 2-all when Bri James doubled to the centerfield wall to lead off the fifth. She rounded for home after W-P pitcher Jennifer Nichols threw away a Teresa Acock bunt.
Neither team scored again until extra innings.
Samantha Fedderson led off the away eighth and struck out, but reached first on a passed ball. After a groundout and what would have been an inning-ending strikeout, Heidi Miller singled down the right baseline to drive in the winning run with two outs gone.
After a getting another groundout to end the inning, DeSales took the plate in the bottom of the inning with the title on the line.
Allesyn Lyons singled up the middle to put the tying run aboard with two outs gone, but the Irish hopes were dashed when W-P third baseman Miller handled a routine grounder to third for the final out of the game.
“Any time you play a good team like DeSales you have to play a clean game,” W-P coach Angie Potts said. “You can’t make errors, you can’t make a lot of mistakes. Normally, if we’re in a one-run game, you say it’s not going to be enough. But in this case, it has to be enough.”
W-P pitcher Jennifer Nichols scattered nine hits over her eight-inning effort. She didn’t strike anyone out, but she didn’t issue a walk and prevented DeSales’ powerful lineup from stringing together a big rally.
“Jen had a great game pitching,” Potts said. “She kept the ball out of their strong hitting zones, especially against Ashlyn and Allesyn Lyons.
“They all stepped up and made catches when they had to, and made plays at first when they had to,” Potts said of her team, “so it’s hard to say it was any one particular player. Obviously Jen (Nichols) had a great game and had a lot to do with where the ball was getting hit, but they all stepped it up and played really well.”
For the Irish, who had hoped to repeat their thumping of W-P on May 1st, the loss was frustrating, despite the fact the game was mainly for seeding.
“We came into this championship game to win the district championship, not to take the second seed,” DeSales coach Russ Vera said. “And we got the second seed, and that’s OK, but we came into this tournament to win the championship and it just wasn’t there. We’ll go to regionals and hopefully make some noise there.”
DAYTON 6, ASOTIN 5
Dayton opened its tournament with a heart-breaking 10-9 loss to Waitsburg-Prescott, which saw the Bulldogs build an early 8-0 lead with a solo shot from Sam Harting and a grand slam from Jessica Tate, only to see it slip away.
Dayton found itself on the short side of an early deficit against Asotin in the battle for third place.
Dayton scored first, with McKayla Bickelhaupt rounding for home on a Kellie Moore RBI double in the bottom of the second.
But Asotin answered with three runs in the next frame on a hit batter, two singles and a double.
By the home sixth the Panthers held a 5-2 advantage, with Dayton’s Tate hitting into an error in the third to drive in the Bulldogs’ only other run.
But Dayton rallied back for two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to take the win.
Bickelhaupt and Caitlyn Robins eached worked two-out walks from Asotin pitcher Mickenzie Mullins in the fifth. Lexus Ward hit into an error at first to score Bickelhaupt and Moore followed with another grounder, this time into an error at shortstop, to load the bases. Sammi Bledsoe got the first hit of the inning, a single into right field, to score Robins, but Ward was thrown out while trying to score from second to end the innng with Asotin clinging to a 5-4 lead.
Asotin failed to score in the top of the seventh and Sarah Phillips and Malia Frame hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the bottom of the inning. Phillips’ run evened the score at 5-all, and Robins, who struck out with runners in scoring position to end Dayton’s first game against W-P, drove in the winning run with a walk-off single to left field.
“She stepped up and got the hit to end the game,” Dayton coach Desirae Jones said of Robins. “For her to come back and get that hit, I was very pleased with her performance today.”
Dayton’s lead-off batter, Phillips, went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored twice in the win.
“We’ve been working with our slapper (Phillips) on changing up her swing and doing some hard bunts and some pop bunts and stuff,” Jones said, “and she just really performed in that second game.”
Jones said the win for Dayton (11-10 on the season) was a breakthrough of sorts.
“We haven’t had very many games where they rally back and finish strong, you know, and really come back and get the win,” Jones said of her team. “We like to see them rally no matter what.”
W-P 3, DESALES 2
W-P 002 000 01 — 3 4 2
DeSales 010 010 00 — 2 9 1
Nichols and Brannock. As. Lyons and Postlewait.
Hits — WP: Brannock, Miller, Heinze, Harshman; DeS: Acock, As. Lyons 2, Zander 2, Al. Lyons, Conley, B. James.
DAYTON 6, ASOTIN 5
Asotin 003 011 0 — 5 3 3
Dayton 011 002 2 — 6 4 3
Mullins and Bosley. Ward and Phillips.
Hits — Aso: Bosley, Mullins, Macy; Day: Phillips 3, Frame, Bickelhaupt, Robins, Moore, Bledsoe.
DESALES 11, ASOTIN 1
Asotin 100 000 — 1 5 4
DeSales 510 212 — 11 13 0
Mullins and Bosley. As. Lyons and Postlewait.
HR — Aso: Mullins.
Hits — Aso: Bosley, Mullins 2, Macy, Maines; DeS: Acock 2, Lesko 2, As. Lyons 4, Zander, Al. Lyons, Conley 2, Brown.
W-P 10, DAYTON 9
Dayton 251 000 1 — 9 10 2
W-P 006 004 X — 10 6 3
Harting and Bickelhaupt. Nichols and Brannock.
HR — Day: Tate, Harting.
Hits — Day: Phillips, Frame, Tate, Harting 2, Bickelhaupt 2, Ward, Robins 2; WP: Miller, Chapman, Foxe 2, Heinze, Fedderson.