4A fastpitch: Puyallup bidistrict champion over Bethel

mwochnick@theolympian.comMay 26, 2014 

There are times when the Puyallup High School fastpitch team doesn’t need much in the way of offense when pitcher Marissa Miller is on her game.

Despite being outhit in their first three games of the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament, the Vikings still stockpiled three wins to advance to Sunday afternoon’s title game at Kent Service Ballfields, where they beat South Puget Sound League rival Bethel, 3-2.

Puyallup (23-2), which had an 8-4 hitting advantage over Bethel, took the lead for good in the sixth on Regan Byrd’s second of two RBI hits in the game.

She and fellow sophomore Emily Ensrud had tied the score at 2 with back-to-back RBI hits in the fifth.

“We know how to stay strong with what we know,” Byrd said. “We trust everybody. ... It might always be the best game we have, but we come in when we need to come in.”

Miller pitched a complete game, striking out eight as the Vikings won their first outright bidistrict title in coach Tony Batinovich’s 22-year tenure.

Five of the seven teams to advance out of the bidistrict tournament for Friday and Saturday’s Class 4A state tournament at Spokane’s Merkel Sports Complex hail from the SPSL.

Camas topped Todd Beamer, 7-5, in the third/fourth-place game. Battle Ground (fifth), Tahoma (sixth) and Emerald Ridge (seventh) earned the final three state seeds. Puyallup and Emerald Ridge face off in a first-round state game at noon Friday.

Bethel (16-9) was the story of the tournament Saturday, winning twice to qualify for state for the first time as a fastpitch program.

The hot trend continued Sunday after a 6-3 semifinal victory over Beamer sent the Braves to the title game.

Two Puyallup errors helped Bethel grab a 2-0 first-inning lead, but coach Rachael Barger was aggressive in seeking more insurance runs when the opportunity arose.

With no outs and Anna Olson on second after a double, Barger waved her home after Brittany Genuardi’s hit to center field, but Olson was thrown out at the plate.

“(Batinovich) is a really aggressive coach, so it was one of those moments where, ‘Can I be more aggressive than him?’ ” said Barger, whose Braves open state play at 10 a.m. Friday against Newport.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com @megwochnick

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