Yelm High School had a stress-free Class 3A state quarterfinals victory on Friday evening at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
And that’s OK — the Tornados had more than enough drama in their tournament opener earlier in the day.
Yelm (27-0) advanced to Saturday’s semifinals with a 7-1 victory against Holy Names Academy.
Drea Schwaier, Yelm’s junior ace, struck out the Holy Names side in the first inning — three of her 15 total K’s. The Cougars scratched out just two hits in the game.
“What I try to do, first and foremost, is start strong,” said Schwaier, a Whitworth commit.
The Tornados’ six runs in the fifth inning was more than enough support for Schwaier, who helped herself with two hits. Yelm senior Ally Choate, a Seattle U signee, had two hits and scored twice, while sophomore Tayelyn Cutler had two hits and two RBIs, and MacKinzee Moore chipped in two hits.
It was not so easy in the first round Friday morning. The Tornados trailed, 3-0, on two Juanita home runs before clawing back for a 7-5 victory over the Rebels.
The last out of the morning game came on a throw from center by Choate, The Olympian’s two-time All-Area player of the year, to catcher Taylor Gubser. Choate nailed a Rebels base runner at the plate, who would have cut Yelm’s lead to one run in the top of the seventh.
The Tornados’ scary opener turned on a roller-coaster fifth inning.
Yelm trailed, 4-2, before senior Carley Nelson smashed a two-run home run that eluded the left fielder’s glove and cleared the fence. Moments earlier, Juanita center fielder Jordan Schroeder’s spectacular leaping catch at the fence robbed Schwaier of an apparent two-run homer.
“I was pretty disappointed,” Schwaier said. “I forgot all about it when Carley hit hers. That was awesome.”
The Tornados tacked on three runs in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run single by Moore, and a misplay of an infield fly in front of home plate.
In the top of the seventh, the Rebels got a run on a bloop double to left before Choate’s bullet toss to Gubser stalled the rally and ended the game.
“It was really intense,” Choate said. “The ball came into my glove perfectly, and I was able to get a good crow hop.”
Earlier, Juanita got home runs from Kristina Warford and Lexi Blackburn off of Yelm starter Hailey Brown. Yelm, trailing 3-0, got back into it in the fourth on a two-run double by Moore.
Abbie Reynolds hit another Juanita homer off of Cutler in relief in the top of the fifth, but Nelson answered in the bottom half of the inning with her two-run shot.
As for drama, no team Friday had a more theatrical moment than Mt. Spokane, the team the Tornados play at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Mt. Spokane (21-4) got a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game against Snohomish. The Wildcats won it in the eighth, 5-4. They beat Stadium, 12-1, in the first round.