You don’t win three consecutive state titles without knowing how to overcome some adversity.
So when the Kamiakin High School fastpitch team found itself trailing early against Edmonds-Woodway, the battle-tested Braves responded the best way they know how — with an avalanche of hits.
Tawny Becker smacked a two-run home run, Kristen Schoffstall added an RBI triple, and Kamiakin shook off a three-run deficit by scoring the game’s final 13 runs to defeat the Warriors, 13-3, in the Class 3A state quarterfinals Friday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
The Braves opened the day with a 7-0 shutout of North Thurston, scoring three runs in the first inning before coasting to the comfortable victory.
“This is a different team, a different season,” said Kamiakin coach Tim Bisson, who has guided the Braves to three consecutive state crowns. “If you would have told me in the middle of the season where we’d be right now, I wouldn’t believe you.”
Where Kamiakin finds itself is right back in the state semifinals for the fourth year in a row, two wins from once again taking the state crown back to Kennewick.
Kamiakin (18-6) faces Everett (24-1) in one semifinal matchup, while Prairie (15-8) squares off against Juanita (21-8) in the other.
Both games are set for 9 a.m. today with the championship scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
The first round was riddled with upsets, including Enumclaw, last year’s 3A state runner-up, and Lake Washington, last season’s 2A champion, bowing out early.
Enumclaw, which lost to Kamiakin in the 2014 title game, 4-2, was bounced to the consolation bracket after being blanked by Juanita, 1-0. The Hornets then were sent home by Kelso, 5-3. Lake Washington, which brought a 22-game winning streak into the tournament, suffered a similar opening-round fate, losing to Prairie, 6-2. The Kangaroos remained alive with victories over Auburn Mountainview, which was eliminated, 9-6, and Edmonds-Woodway, 5-1.
North Thurston, playing in the state tournament for the first time since 1999, saw its season come to an end with an 8-7 loss to Bainbridge in an elimination game.
The Rams (16-13) scored three runs in the seventh, getting singles from Dominique Greeno, Dejah Hickman and Ashley Skillingstad, to take a 7-6 lead but were unable to maintain it after the Spartans scored two in the bottom of the seventh.
“It’s a heart-breaking way to see the season come to an end,” North Thurston coach Pat Dahl said. “I told the girls after though that four years ago no one thought they could get here. No one thought this program could be strong again, and they were able to build it back up. My hope is we can continue to build on this because we’ve been to state now. It’s now within our vision.”
Kamiakin’s quarterfinal game against Edmonds-Woodway got off to quite the opposite start against Tumwater with the Warriors racing out to a 3-0 lead after three innings.
The Braves answered with six runs in the third, five in the fourth and two in the sixth.
“This team’s been down all season,” Bisson said. “We’ve been down three, four runs a number of times this year and they just find a way to come back. I’m not sure how they do it. I don’t have answer for that. I wish I did. Everyone in that dugout just believes they’re going to win.”
The Braves now face an Everett squad that was won 22 consecutive games with the most recent coming at the expense of Kelso.
Holding a slim 2-1 lead, the Seagulls exploded for six runs in the top of the seventh before going on to post an impressive 8-1 victory over the Hilanders.
“All season we’ve been able to come up with that one big inning,” Everett coach Michael Millar said. “This team is starting to get a taste of what it’s like to play at this level.”
The Seagulls will now look to be the first team since Kelso in 2011 to defeat Kamiakin at the state tournament. The Braves have won 14 consecutive state tournament games.
“We circled a few teams at the start of the season we wanted to face towards the end of the year,” Millar said. “Kamiakin was certainly one of them. We’re excited to get a chance to play them.”
Juanita advanced to the semifinals with a 10-0 drubbing of North Central in the quarterfinals.
Prairie’s second victory on the day featured significantly more dramatics as the Falcons trailed 4-0 through five innings before scoring five consecutive runs with Jamie Phares ending the game with a three-run walk-off home run in the seventh.