WALLA WALLA — With the softball game knotted at four in the bottom of the sixth inning, Walla Walla High School’s Jordy Storm broke the tie with a two-out, two-run single.
Storm’s effort, coupled with another two-out knock, helped Wa-Hi power past Pendleton, 7-4, at Murr Field on Thursday.
Storm, who was hit by a pitch twice earlier in the game, struck back in the bottom of the sixth. After Sadie Tonn reached on an error and Alexis Leighty laid down a bunt single, Storm knocked a two-run single into the left-center field gap to give the Blue Devils the 6-4 lead.
But Wa-Hi wasn’t done there, as Jacie McDaniels brought in Storm with a two-out double to make it 7-4.
The Blue Devils, who only had four hits heading into the sixth, scored three runs on three hits in the inning.
“Really, it was all the girls being able to string some hits together,” Wa-Hi coach Kate Keyes said. “They did a great job.”
McDaniels finished the day 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI.
“She’s obviously in that spot in the lineup for a reason,” Keyes said of her No. 3 hitter. “She’s very consistent at the plate. She’s always putting the ball in play. We can count on her to move runners.”
Pitcher Ellie Rassbach was thankful for the late surge, as she sealed her first win of the year by retiring Pendleton in the seventh.
Rassbach played a huge part in the win, as she tossed a three-hit complete game. She gave up three runs in the second inning after Pendleton took advantage of a pair of walks, but Rassbach settled in from there with a bevy of off-speed pitches to keep the Bucks’ hitters off balance.
“That’s going to be really key for this season — having those other pitches and being able to mix it up,” Keyes said. “We face good batters with every single team we play, so it’s really important to keep them off balance and always keep them guessing.”
“She did a great job for us today,” she added. “She did a really good job of mixing in off-speed (pitches). She was key for us getting some strikeouts when we had some base runners on.”
Rassbach also knew a number of the Pendleton players, which made her nine strikeouts that much sweeter.
“Once you go through the lineup once, everybody has their timing down,” Keyes said. “You’re facing these batters four or five times in a game and good hitters are going to pick up on what you have. It’s really important to keep them off balance, always messing with them (and) keep them guessing.”
Pendleton held a 4-2 lead after the top of the fifth, but Wa-Hi’s Lauren Likes evened the score in the bottom of the frame. With Maddy Aichele and Storm on second and third and two down, Likes laced a ball into the gap between right and center field to clear the bases.
“These girls — they love to hit,” Keyes said. “They love to put points on the board and move runners around. That’s what they do best. We expect them to get out early and be aggressive at the plate.”
Wa-Hi jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning, as McDaniels scored Aichele with a single. Rassbach then reached on an error, which brought Storm home from third.
With the win, Wa-Hi improves to 1-0 on the season. The Blue Devils face Post Falls and Couer d’Alene in the Richland tournament this weekend.
Wa-Hi 7, Pendleton 4
Pendleton 030 010 0 — 4 3 4
Wa-Hi 200 023 X — 7 7 2
Line and Weissenfluh. Rassbach and McDaniels.
HR — none.
Hits — Pend: Hilliard, Roach, Lindsey. Wa-Hi: Aichele, McDaniels (3), Likes, Leighty, Storm.