Mountaineers shut out in non-league contest by Elma

Rainier’s recent offensive tear silenced


The falling hail wasn’t the only sharp pain in the Rainier High School softball team’s neck in its non-league contest against Elma on Tuesday, April 16. Earning three outs in a single inning proved to be arduous for the Mountaineers, as the Eagles piled on 15 of their 17 runs with two outs in a 17-0 shutout victory.

Rainier’s offense, which had scored 45 runs in its previous two outings combined, recorded just three hits during the mercy rule contest, with senior Olivia Earsley providing two of the three.

“We’re looking for consistency on offense, and we can’t really find it,” Rainier head coach Katie Qualls said. “It seems like when we’ve got runners in scoring position, we fall flat, and the bottom of the order could help us out a little bit more.”

Elma took an early 2-0 lead off of Rainier’s eighth-grade pitcher Gracie Lantz in the first inning, capitalizing on walks and the ball narrowly sneaking past the Mountaineers’ infield on a pair of ground balls. 

Earsley led off the batting order with a single in the bottom of the first, and Brooklynn Swenson advanced her to third with another base hit. Keira Anderson popped out and Ryleigh Cruse struck out as Rainier’s offense squandered an opportunity to respond to Elma’s two runs.

Lantz returned to the mound in the second inning and faced a bases-loaded, two-out situation in a two-run game. The Eagles proceeded to score five straight runs off of two singles, two hit batters and a walk. Cruse replaced her on the mound, but the onslaught continued as Elma drove in three more runs to bring the score to 11-0 before Rainier’s bottom third of its order took an at-bat.

After the Eagles retired the next three Rainier hitters in the second, they put the game well out of reach in the third. Early in the inning, the Mountaineers defense put away the first two batters, but the two-out jitters got them again. Routine plays were anything but routine, and the Eagles made them pay with six more two-out runs to make it 17-0. 

“It wasn’t necessarily our pitching’s fault that we were in that spot. Errors, errors, errors. It seems like we need to work on our fundamentals, which I thought we were doing,” Qualls said.

Rainier (5-4, 1-1 Central 2B League), which finally played on its home field for the first time this season, will be forced to quickly address its offensive and defensive struggles. The Mountaineers face their final non-league opponent in Eatonville on the road on Wednesday, April 17 before immediately following it up with a trip to Wahkiakum on Thursday, April 18 in a C2BL bout.