Carley Nance had her head down, shaking in disbelief. Mia Corbin had her doubts, wondering if her team would pull it out.
Of course they would.
It’s a good thing coach Tom Milligan preaches about luck often to his Tahoma Bears, whether it’s luck of the draw or luck of the dramatics — like what happened during the 4A state fastpitch semifinals that led to Bears playing for Saturday’s state title at Merkel Sports Complex.
The Bears say momentum from a walk-off walk in the ninth inning of their semifinal victory earlier in the day carried over into the 4A state championship game against Richland, in which they jumped out to a quick two-run lead on their way to a 9-1 victory over the hard-hitting Bombers and their first 4A title.
“That momentum was amazing,” Nance said, “and knowing that most people didn’t think we were going to win because of how many runs that (Richland) can put up on the board, that motivated us even more.”
It’s true. Last year Richland defeated Tahoma, 19-4, during the state tournament in Spokane. Milligan, using a two-pitcher tandem all season with Nance and Maddie Scott, hung with Nance all four games of the tournament. Nance, who also hit in the No. 4 slot, threw a complete game and held the Bombers to four hits after they had eight in a 9-7 semifinal win over Woodinville.
“She carried the team on our back all weekend,” Corbin said of Nance, “and we needed her.”
Leading 4-1, Tahoma (27-3) used a five-run sixth inning to take a commanding 9-1 lead. Corbin opened the inning with a single and after Emily Bishop drew a walk, Delaney Nelson and Nance had back-to-back two-run hits.
Tahoma pounded out 15 hits after defeating Camas, 3-2, in the state semifinal earlier Saturday when Kaylee Hazelwood drew a walk with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Tahoma filled the bases with zero outs to start the inning, then gave up two outs before Hazelwood came to bat.
“So lucky,” Corbin said.