4A state fastpitch: Early lead, timely hitting lifts Puyallup into semis

Contributing writerMay 31, 2014 

SPOKANE — Marissa Miller didn’t care who she would face in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Friday at the Merkel Sports Complex.

“I tried to treat it as just another game,” the Puyallup senior pitcher said. “We’ve played a lot of tough games and this was just one more.”

Staked with a 1-0 lead after Emily Ensrud reached on an infield single and scored in the top of the first inning, Miller held Snohomish scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning en route to a 4-1 victory. The Vikings advance to face Woodinville in a semifinal Saturday at 8 a.m.

Ensrud started things rolling again in the third inning, reaching on an infield single and advancing to third base on a throwing error to spark a three-run inning that put Puyallup up 4-0.

“Getting the lead right off the bat was huge,” Puyallup coach Tony Batinovich said. “It gave us a lot of confidence — we’re a young team — that was important. But just as important as that was the way we were able to manage the game. And when (Snohomish’s) big hitters came up, we didn’t let them come up with runners on base.”

It helped that Miller issued just one walk and went after the Snohomish batters aggressively — especially with runners on base.

In the bottom of the sixth, after issuing a leadoff walk to the Panthers’ Alyssa Simons, Miller came back to strike out two of the next three batters she faced to keep Simons from scoring — even after she stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

“I just tried to be aggressive,” Miller said. “When you have the lead you can just let loose a little bit. We don’t usually score a lot of runs, so we’re used to playing close games like this.”

BEAMER BOUNCED BY WOODINVILLE

Going into the seventh inning, Todd Beamer was up by a run, 4-3, over Woodinville in one of Friday’s quarterfinal games.

The Falcons got their first three runners aboard to start the seventh. Titans pitcher Madison Rogers came back to strike out the next hitter, but Sarah Taketa hit a bouncer to second that allowed the tying run to score on a throw to the plate. Then Woodinville freshman Jordyn Boyd drilled a double to center field to clear the bases and scored on a grounder to short by Maggie Loyett to make it 8-4.

Falcons freshman pitcher Olivia Reiner allowed a single in the bottom half of the seventh, with the runner scoring on an infield error. But she recovered to strike out Rogers to end the game, 8-5.

“She’s been tough like that all season long,” Woodinville coach Dani Weir said. “She loves to compete and that’s what I ask of all our players. She’s the kind of kid who would go out there and compete just as hard if it was a backyard Wiffle Ball game.

“This is a game that’s all about confidence.”

The Titans started the game with back-to-back hits and their first three batters came around to score for a 3-0 lead.

In the two other quarterfinals, Walla Walla knocked off Tahoma, 5-1, to advance to face Bethel, an 8-2 winner over Moses Lake, in the second semifinal.

Camas, a finalist a year ago, lost its opener to Woodinville and was out of the tournament after falling to Redmond. The Mustangs knocked off Beamer in a loser-out game, 10-9.

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