The Sunnyside Christian High School girls fastpitch softball team concluded regular season play this past Saturday by splitting a non-league twin bill against the visiting DeSales Irish.
The Greater Columbia 'B' League champion Lady Knights will take their 16-4 overall record into the District playoffs, set to start tomorrow (Tuesday). Sunnyside Christian opens the playoffs at home against the Thorp Tigers. Game time this Tuesday is set for 4 p.m.
A victory over the visiting Tigers will propel Sunnyside Christian into a noon match-up at East Wenatchee's Sterling Softball Complex this coming Saturday against either Entiat or Pateros. A loss at home this Tuesday to Thorp will require the Lady Knights to play in East Wenatchee Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
The top two clubs from the four-team District tourney will advance to the 1B State playoffs, scheduled for May 23-24 at Yakima's Kiwanis Fields.
In wrapping up regular season play last Saturday, SCHS Coach Sandy Harris called on her team to play small-ball.
"We probably bunted more in those two games Saturday than we have in any other doubleheader all season," said Harris. "DeSales has a pretty strong pitcher in Amanda Arnzen. The game plan was to try and force them into making mistakes."
DeSales did just that, in game two. The 2B Irish won Saturday's opener, 4-2, but the nightcap went the Lady Knights' way, 3-2.
In the twin bill finale, trailing the Irish by a 2-1 count, Sunnyside Christian opened the bottom of the fifth with Melanie Van Wingerden reaching base on an infield error. Harris replaced her with courtesy runner Krystin Mensonides, then inserted Makeala Duim into the line-up to pinch hit. Duim laid down a picture-perfect bunt that she beat out for a base hit. Both, Mensonides and Duim then moved up a base when Arnzen's catcher, Majerus, let a pitch get by her.
Arnzen stiffened, however, and struck out Jamie Sveen, but on the play Majerus dropped the ball and Sveen raced to first. Majerus, fearing Mensonides would race home with the tying run, elected not to throw Sveen out at first.
With the bases loaded, Arnzen came through with her 11th strikeout of the game.
That brought Abby Bangs to bat, who popped the ball up in front of the plate. Arnzen caught the lazy fly for the second out of the inning, then noticed that Mensonides had strayed too far off third. Arnzen zipped a throw to her third baseman in an attempt to double her off, but the ball sailed high and rolled out-of-bounds. Both, Mensonides and Duim were awarded home by the umpires, giving the Lady Knights a 3-2 lead.
Southpaw hurler Hilari Bosma, who yielded just five hits to DeSales in the nightcap, held the Irish scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings to preserve the one-run victory.
Sunnyside Christian scored the first of its three runs in the twin bill finale in the bottom of the first, when Bangs got aboard with a bunt single and came round to score on an Arnzen pick-off throw at second that ended up in deep center field.
In Saturday's opener, DeSales scored all the runs it would need in the top of the first, pushing three runners across the plate, thanks to three walks issued by Bosma and a pair of hits.
The Lady Knights fought back in their half of the first with a two-run uprising. Emma Newhouse and Naomi den Hoed both singled that frame, and the Irish committed two of its four errors for the game in the inning.
Both, Newhouse and den Hoed enjoyed 2-for-3 offensive performances in the opening 4-2 loss to the visitors.
Arnzen, who scattered six hits while fanning 10 and walking only one, was the offensive catalyst for DeSales in the first game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.