Brandon Walker just wanted at least one more inning in the downpour.
When he couldn’t persuade the umpires, the White River softball coach clapped his hands and muttered in disgust.
Thanks to senior Anna Kasner pitching through that final rain-soaked and windy sixth inning, Fife escaped White River with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday.
That helped the Trojans (8-0, 5-0 2A South Puget Sound League) get some revenge after an extra-innings loss a season ago to the reigning league champs. The win also kept Fife unbeaten and atop the 2A SPSL standings and handed the Hornets their first league loss this year.
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“We had the top of the order coming up (in the seventh inning). I was pretty pumped,” Walker said. “I’m always pumped that these guys are going to be able to push that run across in the seventh.”
But the umpires called the game after Kasner threw the final out in the bottom of the sixth after a double-play at first base and a groundout. All of that after she walked the first two batters with the rain pouring and wind swirling.
Kasner was scraping mud off her cleats with almost every pitch. White River’s Brittney Harder had complained she was slipping while standing in the batter’s box.
“This was honestly the craziest game,” said Kasner, who struck out 12 in a complete-game performance. “It was hard at the end, but you find little tricks to kind of get through it.”
White River (3-6, 3-1 2A SPSL) started the game like it ended its previous one — a 15-1 loss to W.F. West in a rematch of last season’s Class 2A state championship that ended by mercy rule after five innings.
Fife’s Kaitlynn Gain and Maggie Crist hit back-to-back RBI singles to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Gain and Crist, who bat fourth and fifth in the order respectively, would follow with back-to-back RBI doubles in the third and both finished 3 for 3 at the plate.
“We were bloodthirsty,” Crist said. “Really, it was just go up there and fight my way through. If there was a good pitch, I was going to battle.”
Was Walker concerned after being down two runs that early? Maybe a little, he said.
But then Natalie Vollandt smacked White River’s first hit of the game to lead off the second inning — jumping on a Kasner rise ball and lining it over the left-field wall for a solo home run.
“She was upset because she missed the first pitch,” Walker said. “She was excited to get it back.”
But Kasner followed by striking out the next three batters.
“I just get angry,” Kasner said. “Natalie is a crazy awesome player. I just pitched her inside and she got a hold of it. ... But as a pitcher, you have got to figure out ‘What does this batter do? What is this batter good at?’ And you figure it out from there.”
White River’s Jordanne Fray doubled to center to bring home a run in the third, and Kennedy Ledbetter tripled in the fourth to cut Fife’s lead to 4-3. But Kasner never let the Hornets take the lead and seemed to get a strikeout when she needed it most.
“Anna has just gotten better every single year,” Fife coach Michelle Nixon said. “She is so tough. One of the best players, not just pitchers, in the league in my opinion.”
Walker said Monday’s practice was spent working on his hitters’ approach and how to hit that rise ball.
“Because that pitch is really good,” Walker said, “we told them to keep their head in the box and try to catch it before it breaks. But she did a really good job of hitting the corners today. It wasn’t just the rise ball.”
It was Kasner’s changeup, too, which she utilized Tuesday after working diligently on it this past offseason.
“The goal is always to make it to state and we just want to get there,” Kasner said. “But it’s going to depend on how it all goes. We’ll just go where the wind takes us.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677