WALLA WALLA - The Sunnyside Christian Lady Knights got a sneak preview of what they'll be facing in the postseason, when they traveled to take on the DeSales Irish this past Saturday.
"DeSales has already qualified for a spot in the 2B State tournament," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Sandy Harris, whose club will be attempting to earn a 1B State tourney berth of its own this coming Saturday.
"They were a good test for us," Harris said of the Irish. "We hadn't seen that caliber of pitching this season other than at the Wahluke tournament earlier this season, when Chelan brought its number one pitcher into the game in the later innings."
In Saturday's opening game, the Lady Knights mounted three scoring threats against DeSales hurler Amanda Arnzen. In each instance, however, Sunnyside Christian came up dry. That translated into a 1-0 loss.
Despite the one-run defeat, Harris said she was very pleased with the effort her team put forth. Especially considering the club was without the services of its No. 1 pitcher, senior Tori Van Wingerden, who pulled a leg muscle in last Tuesday's doubleheader against LaSalle.
With Van Wingerden out, Harris turned to seldom used Hillary Bosma, a soft throwing, left-handed freshman.
"Hillary pitched excellent," said Harris. "I was really pleased with how she pitched."
Bosma limited the Irish to just five hits in the opener, walking only one while fanning two.
More importantly, Bosma allowed just one run in the opener, that coming in the bottom of the first. A harmless looking single by Casey Clark proved to be the difference in the game, though, as Clark moved to third on two passed balls and then raced home on a groundout by a DeSales teammate.
Harris gives kudos to her other Lady Knights, as well, for backing Bosma up with some great defensive play. It was the defense, said Harris, that got the Lady Knights out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth, when DeSales loaded the bases with only one out.
In trying to rally from the one-run deficit, Sunnyside Christian's first real scoring opportunity came in the top of the fourth. Senior Brittany den Hoed broke up Arnzen's no-hitter by lashing a two-out single, then stole second and third before getting stranded.
The best scoring opportunity for the Lady Knights came in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Leah Bosma bunted her way aboard and proceeded to steal two bases, reaching third with just one out. But like den Hoed, Bosma didn't go any further.
Abby Bangs came up with Sunnyside Christian's third and final hit of the game in the top of the sixth, a bunt single, but Bangs, too, was left on the base paths.
That was due chiefly to the efforts of the hard throwing Arnzen, who set 11 Sunnyside Christian batters down on strikes in the opener.
"The DeSales pitcher had four different pitches, and she used them all quite well," said Harris.
Game two Saturday was a different story, in terms of the Lady Knights being involved in a nail-biter. The Irish extended their 2-1 lead with a four-run outburst in the bottom of the third, then sealed the deal with a six-run explosion in the fourth. The game was called, at 12-1, after five innings via the 10-run mercy rule.
Arnzen tossed a one-hitter for DeSales in the nightcap, recording another 10 strikeouts to go with the 11 K's she had in the opening contest.
The one run Sunnyside Christian mustered was generated in the top of the first. Following a pair of DeSales errors that allowed den Hoed to reach base, then advance to third, den Hoed scampered home on a bunt laid down by Leah Bosma.
The Irish, on the other hand, had little trouble in getting to Sunnyside Christian's freshman hurler. DeSales pounded out 11 hits off Bosma in the twin bill finale, including a double and triple by its No. 9 hitter-Caitlin Duncan.
"By the time the second game rolled around, DeSales had Hillary figured out," said Harris. "They hit her pretty hard."
Still, Harris credits Bosma with a fine overall performance, and praised the underclassman for throwing strikes and not hanging her head.
"I was very pleased with her efforts," said Harris. "She showed that we have another pitcher to turn to if we need her."
Sunnyside Christian (12-8) opens the District tournament against the Thorp Tigers at East Wenatchee's Sterling Complex this coming Saturday. Game time is slated for 1:30 p.m. A loss to the Tigers ends the Lady Knights' season, a win advances Sunnyside Christian to the District title game Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., with a single berth to the 1B State tourney on the line.
The only common opponent Thorp and Sunnyside Christian shared this season was Kittitas. Thorp lost to Kittitas by one run in those two clubs' only match-up of the year, and the Lady Knights defeated Kittitas twice by 18-13 and 8-6 scores.
"We're playing much better now than when we faced Kittitas, but Thorp should be a good test for us," said Harris. "It should be an interesting game."
S'side Christ. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0 3 2
DeSales 1 0 0 0 0 0 x -1 5 0
H. Bosma (2 K's, 1 BB) and M. Van Wingerden. Arnzen (11 K's, 0 BB) and Kirka.
S'side Christ. 1 0 0 0 0 -1 1 4
DeSales 2 0 4 6 x -12 11 2
H. Bosma (0 K's, 3 BB) and M. Van Wingerden. Arnzen (10 K's, 0 BB) and Kirka.