WENATCHEE - The goal was to bring home a trophy from State. That didn't happen for the Sunnyside Christian High School girls fastpitch softball team this past weekend. But, the Lady Knights proved they belonged at State, via their extra inning victory over the Curlew Cougars.
It is the second straight year Sunnyside Christian has advanced to the State tourney and won a game there.
"The good thing is," said SCHS Coach Sandy Harris, "is that we have everybody back except one girl."
Sunnyside Christian opened this year's State tournament against Curlew. The Lady Knights came away with the win, but it didn't come easy. They had to play four extra innings to pull out the victory.
Harris explained that after the eighth inning, the State tourney went to international tiebreaker rules, which calls for the girl who had the last at-bat the previous inning to start the new inning standing at second.
Curlew appeared to have the game won when the Cougars plated a run in the top of the ninth. But not to be outdone, Sunnyside Christian responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the ninth to again square the contest. The Lady Knights tallied the score when Tysynna Van Wingerden clutched up with an RBI single.
The SCHS girls earned the victory in the 11th frame. With Courtney Rice starting out the inning standing at second, Emma Hernandez got aboard on the only error Curlew committed in the game. A groundout off the bat of Van Wingerden allowed both Rice and Hernandez to move up a bag. Junior Carly DeGroot then slapped the game winning hit, plating Rice in the process.
DeGroot was one of three SCHS players to swat two hits against Curlew. Jacqui Roberts and Tori Van Wingerden were the other two.
Sunnyside Christian forged a 2-0 lead on the Cougars in the bottom of the second, both runs scoring on a single by Tori Van Wingerden. She drove in another run in the third, and coupled with four consecutive walks, SCHS upped its advantage to 4-1.
Curlew knotted the game at 4-all in the top of the sixth, plating three runs thanks to a pair of Sunnyside Christian errors.
The win over the Cougars advanced Sunnyside Christian to a quarter-final game against the Morton Huskies. Morton, though, had extremely talented Vanessa Ramsey at the ready, and the extremely tall sophomore pitched the Huskies to a convincing 9-0 victory over SCHS. She ended up fanning 11 and walking none.
"The team from Dayton had Ramsey clocked as fast as 68 miles per hour," said Harris. "She was consistently throwing 62 miles an hour.
"Normally, our girls are only seeing pitches 50 to 55 miles an hour," Harris explained.
To Sunnyside Christian's credit, the Lady Knights banged out six hits off Ramsey. DeGroot again had the hot bat for SCHS, going 2-for-3 at the plate.
The closest the Lady Knights came to getting on the scoreboard against Morton was in the seventh inning. DeGroot, after singling her way aboard and advancing to second on a passed ball, tried scoring on a single to left off the bat of Brittany Den Hoed. DeGroot, though, was thrown out at the plate.
"Morton was pretty impressive," Harris said, going on to explain that the Huskies ended up winning the State title. She explained that Morton made its way through State by holding all of its opponents scoreless.
Forced to the consolation bracket, Sunnyside Christian could never get untracked against the Entitat Tigers, and ended up dropping the loser-out game by a 7-2 score.
Sunnyside Christian scored the first of its two runs against Entitat in the top of the second. DeGroot, who singled, plated the run on an RBI groundout off the bat of Den Hoed. Tami Lambrecht, who was 3-for-4 for the Lady Knights that contest, drove in the other SCHS run in the top of the seventh.
In addition to Lambrecht's three hits, DeGroot and Tori Van Wingerden each were 2-for-3.
Sophomore Emma Hernandez pitched all three games at State for the Lady Knights. She yielded a total of 26 hits in the three games. Hernandez struck out a total of nine batters and walked nine.
Harris said although her club didn't reach its goal of trophying at State, she and the Lady Knights are focusing on the positives.
"We had a great year," she said. "League and District titles, qualifying for State for the second straight year. We'll take that."
The SCHS girls finished their 2004 campaign with an overall mark of 18-7.