W.F. West’s O.J. Dean won’t be remembered for anything more Saturday than paying attention at the right time.
It helped the Bearcats to their second Class 2A softball championship in the past four seasons.
Dean, a ninth-grader, turned a game-clinching double play in the seventh inning and W.F. West turned away hard-charging White River, 3-2, at Carlon Park in Selah.
W.F. West’s 3-0 lead was quickly trimmed to one run on Erin Radford’s RBI double, followed by Kayla Smith’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth inning for the Hornets (24-2).
Trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning, White River got the leadoff hitter on in Kennedy Smith, who reached on a single.
That is when Hornets coach Brandon Walker called for a sacrifice bunt by Maddie Meyer, who executed it perfectly.
Smith turned aggressively at second base — and got caught when Dean threw behind her. She was tagged for the second out.
“She thought she could get to third,” Walker said. “She rounded the base a little wide and got stuck out there.”
White River lined out for the final out of the game.
“(Dean’s throw) was the game right there,” W.F. West coach Mike Keen said. “It took the runner out of scoring position.”
Caitlin Reynolds gave the Bearcats (23-3) a 1-0 lead with her leadoff home run to straightaway center field off Kayla Smith in the second inning.
They tacked on a couple more runs in the fifth inning on back-to-back RBI doubles by Roni Braun and Tessa Wollan.
This was W.F. West’s 12thconsecutive trip to the 2A softball championships. Its last title came in 2012.
“I cannot put it into words how hard these kids work in practice — and after practice,” Keen said. “There is no offseason for these kids.”
Meanwhile, White River — the 2A West Central District champion — registered a school-best finish at the softball state tournament. Its previous mark was placing seventh in 2013.
“We had enough ability on this team for something big, and it came together in so many ways,” Walker said. “We knew we had a shot.”
CLASS 3A BASEBALL
Central Kitsap rallied by scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning, then held on for a 6-4 win at Husky Ballpark to take third place.
Aki Buckson hit a two-run double to start the rally, and Collin Palau hit another two-run double to put the Cougars in the lead before scoring on a wild pitch to cap the comeback.
Buckson then pitched the seventh inning and slammed the door on the Spartans, touching off a celebration among players on the field and fans in the stands at the University of Washington.
It was the first-ever state baseball trophy for Central Kitsap (22-5), which was coming off Friday night’s emotional, 1-0 extra-inning loss to Shorewood. That game ended in a brawl between the two teams before order was restored.
“It was real tough,” said CK coach Bill Baxter. “You could feel that huge letdown, but we talked about it. We rallied and decided to make the best of it.
“I loved the way they battle together and just play as a team,” Baxter added. “That’s what we’ve done all year. We’re one of the top teams in the state, and we proved that.”
CLASS 1A/2B/1B TRACK AND FIELD
Maybe there was a hint of disappointment in not breaking the 60-foot barrier, but Eatonville’s Justin Kaelin was still good enough Saturday to defend his title in the Class 1A boys shot put in Cheney.
Kaelin threw 57 feet, 111/2 inches on the last throw of preliminaries, then watched to see if the rest of the field could catch him. Deer Park’s Aaron Obert was the closest at 56-51/4.
“Unbelievable,” Cruisers track coach Geoff Olson said. “ It is an honor to have a kid like that. He went undefeated for two years in a row, except for finishing second in the Oregon Relays. That is pretty remarkable.”
Also, the Mount Rainier Lutheran boys finished second in Class 1B for a second consecutive year. The Tacoma school scored 52 points, right behind Lummi (54).
Senior Theo Tel won the boys 400 for Mount Rainier Lutheran, winning in 50.91 seconds.