The Yelm High School fastpitch team punched its ticket to the 3A State Championship tournament at the Regional Athletic Center after victories over Lincoln of Tacoma and Prairie of Vancouver on Thursday, May 18.
“Thursday was a great day for us,” Head Coach Lindsay Walton said. “We played the best we’ve played all season, winning our first two games against Lincoln and Prairie and qualifying for state.”
Later in the district tournament, the Tornados were defeated twice on Saturday, May 20, as they lost 13-3 to South Sound Conference rival Peninsula, and lost 13-7 to Heritage. After finishing the tournament with a 2-2 record, the Tornados earned a fourth place finish.
Yelm’s first matchup of the state championship tournament is set for Thursday, May 25 against Juanita High School at the Regional Athletic Center. The game is set for 3 p.m. and the losing team will be eliminated.
In their first matchup on May 18 at the district tournament, the Tornados squared off against Lincoln and defeated the Abes 12-6.
Mallory Hoke started on the mound for Yelm and went the distance by pitching seven innings. She allowed six runs on five hits, and struck out eight batters.
Yelm trailed 2-0 at the end of the first inning and continued to chase the Abes’ lead until the top of the fourth inning when they scored three runs. They briefly led with a score of 3-2, but Lincoln regained its lead in the bottom of the fourth by adding two more runs, bringing the score in the Abes’ favor, 4-3.
Yelm’s bats came to life in the top of the fifth when the team scored five runs to regain an 8-4 lead. Kylie Minker got the scoring started in the inning for the Tornados, with a two-RBI double.
The Tornados added one insurance run in the sixth inning and another three in the seventh to extend their lead to 12-4.
Lincoln had a comeback attempt in the bottom of the seventh, but after the Abes scored two runs, Yelm slammed the door shut and collected the final three outs, defeating Lincoln 12-6 in the team’s first district playoff matchup of the season.
The team collected 14 hits throughout the game, with Layah Hicks, Caylee Roberts, Jocelyn Lintz and Carley Waite all collecting multiple-hits. Hicks led Yelm’s batters by going 4 for 5 at the plate.
During Yelm’s second district playoff game on May 18, Yelm secured a 9-8 victory over the Prairie Falcons.
Madisyn Erickson earned the victory in the pitcher’s circle for Yelm. The lefty went six and a third innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and striking out five. Hoke finished the game in relief.
Yelm collected 13 hits during the game. The team extended its lead for good in the third inning after scoring six runs. Austin Hitchner started the scoring in the contest by collecting two RBIs on a single, while Roberts later collected two RBIs with a single of her own.
Hicks also collected an RBI on a groundout in the third inning, before Minker crushed a solo home run. Yelm scored six runs in the inning.
Yelm added an additional three runs in the seventh inning. The team scored on a Lintz two-RBI single and a Dewees’ RBI single. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Prairie scored a home run and a two-RBI double.
Yelm was able to hold on to defeat the Falcons, 9-8, despite a comeback attempt by the Vancouver-based school.
The team collected 13 total hits in the outing, with Dewees, Roberts and Erickson each leading the way with three-hit contests.
“Mallory Hoke and Madisyn Erickson pitched great,” Walton said. “We had some stellar offensive performances that day as well by Caylee Roberts, Layah Hicks, Elissa Dewees and Austin Hitchner.”
After a 2-0 start on Thursday, May 18, the Tornados ran into tough competition in the form of Peninsula and Heritage.
The Seahawks defeated the Tornados 13-3 on Saturday, May 20 in Lacey. They were later defeated by Heritage 13-7 on the same day.
“Saturday was a tougher day for us as we were unable to come up with a victory against Peninsula and Heritage,” Walton said. “We beat ourselves the second game with six errors, but finishing fourth in our very tough district is something to be proud of.”
With win-or-go home circumstances on the line, Walton believes her team will give it their all against Juanita.
“We hope to bring the energy and hot bats we brought to last Thursday’s games and get the win, which will put us up against the No. 1 seed Peninsula,” Walton said. “Confidence is key and we plan on showing up Thursday, giving it everything we have and leaving it all out on the field.”
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