PASCO — Saturday proved to be the best of times and the worst of times for the Wa-Hi softball team in Mid-Columbia Conference 4A district action at Chiawana High School.
The Blue Devils rolled past the Riverhawks, 10-0, in a winner-to-regional, loser-out game before bowing to Richland, 15-3, in the district title contest.
Both Wa-Hi and Richland now advance to regional play next Saturday at University High School in Spokane. The Blue Devils will face Lewis & Clark in an elimination game, while the Bombers battle Central Valley for the regional crown and No. 1 seed to the Class 4A state tournament. Both games are set for 3 p.m.
The winner of the Wa-Hi-L&C game will then square off with the Richland-CV loser to determine the region’s No. 2 seed to state.
Richland 15, Wa-Hi 3
Kate Ferenz drilled a two-out, two-RBI single in the top of the third inning to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 edge.
But the Bombers tallied one run in the home half of the third, nine more on 10 hits in the fourth and five runs on four base knocks in the fifth inning to end the game due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Richland banged out 16 hits on its way to the district-clinching victory.
Before their offensive explosion, the Bombers managed just two hits and one unearned run against Wa-Hi starting pitcher Brandi Schoessler.
“Richland is a great-hitting team,” Wa-Hi coach Kate Keyes said. “We needed to keep the ball off the plate.”
“Brandi was in control,” said Richland coach Casey Emery, who has guided the Bomber program to nine of the last 11 Big 9/MCC regular-season championships. “We talked about being more disciplined and forcing her to throw strikes. I’ve always said hitting is contagious. Once it happens, it happens a lot.”
The Blue Devils’ third run of the game came in the fifth inning on a solo home run by Jordy Storm.
Aichele and McDaniels had two hits each for Wa-Hi.
Wa-Hi 10, Chiawana 0
Storm set the tone for the Blue Devils’ romp in the first inning after Lauren Likes drew a one-out walk. She deposited an 0-1 pitch from Riverhawks’ starter Carlee Gerbs over the right field fence to give Wa-Hi a 2-0 lead.
Ellie Rassbach brought in the first of three Blue Devil runs in the third with a sacrifice fly to center. Jacie McDaniels made it 5-0 with a two-out, two-RBI double off the base of the left field fence.
Wa-Hi ended the rout with five runs in the fifth. Highlights included an RBI double by McDaniels and run-scoring singles by Whitney Enriquez, Maddie Fortney and Maddy Aichele.
“This was our focus all along,” Keyes said of the loser-out affair. “That’s what we prepared for all week long. We talked about how we needed to come out and hit the ball.”
Aichele led the Blue Devils with three hits. Storm and McDaniels added two apiece.
Rassbach gave up just two hits and struck out nine over five frames. She fanned back-to-back Chiawana hitters — Hannah Johnson and Maddie Heine — to get out of a runner-at-third, one out situation in the first and K’d Sheyenne Marshall with runners at first and second and two out in the fourth to keep the shutout intact.
“Ellie threw a good game,” Keyes said. “She had a good mix (of pitches) and kept them on their toes. She came up with big strikeouts when we needed them.”
Bombers 15, Blue Devils 3
Wa-Hi 002 01 — 3 7 1
Richland 001 95 — 15 16 1
Schoessler, Rassbach (4) and McDaniels; Andrews and Liikala.
HR — Wa-Hi: Storm; Richland: Utecht, Perryman.
Hits — Wa-Hi: Aichele 2, McDaniels 2, Rassbach, Ferenz, Storm; Richland: Utecht 3, Merwin 3, Hinkley 2, Bramlett 2, Andrews 2, Perryman 2, Liikala, Jones.
Chiawana 000 00 — 0 2 2
Wa-Hi 203 05 — 10 10 0
Gerds and Heine; Rassbach and McDaniels.
HR — Wa-Hi: Storm.
Hits — Chiawana: Ellison, Weber; Wa-Hi: Aichele 3, Storm 2, McDaniels 2, Likes, Enriquez, Fortney.