There’s one undefeated softball team left in the Class 4A Narrows League, and Yelm High School has a dugout full of loud, cheering players that make it clear which team that is.
Following the final line-out to Drea Schwaier at first base on Wednesday, Yelm’s bench cleared, and a gaggle of screaming players corralled together to celebrate a 4-3 victory over Gig Harbor.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, because you know everyone is in the game and everyone’s excited,” Schwaier said. “You know they’re in the game with you, mentally.”
Yelm (13-2, 8-0 4A Narrows) has sole possession of first place in the 4A Narrows with five league games left to play. It’s already defeated each of the teams remaining on the schedule once.
“We’ve been really working on our mentality of staying up all game and talking to each other, being loud, communicating,” Yelm coach Lindsay Walton said. “We’ve turned a corner, the last three, four games. We have really stepped our game up, and it’s showing on the field.”
Yelm got on the board first, when Taylor Gubser singled to right in the second inning to score Mackinzee Moore. Tayelyn Cutler then crossed on Jaeden Ells’ sacrifice fly to left a batter later to make it 2-0.
Ally Choate — who finished 2 for 3 with two runs scored — tacked on another run in the third. She led off the inning with a single and stole second before Carley Nelson’s single eventually knocked her in.
“We know that they’re scrappy,” Gig Harbor coach Kara Dressel said. “They have a lot of speed, generally, and they’re good hitters.”
Schwaier — who pitched the first four innings and recorded the win for Yelm — was working comfortably with a 3-0 lead until Abbie Hutton erased it in the fourth.
Hutton ripped a 1-1 pitch over the wall in center field with Lauren Forseth and Jordan Adams aboard, evening the score at 3-3. Hutton was 2 for 3 with the three RBIs.
“After we got through the first time and we just weren’t hitting off of her, I don’t know about anybody else, but I wanted it,” she said. “Everybody was just saying it. They told me when I got back in the dugout (they were saying), ‘We just need that home run right now.’ And I hit it.”
But Yelm was quick enough to forget it.
Choate hit a leadoff triple in the fifth. She bolted for home plate on Schwaier’s grounder to short two batters later, and slid in to score the go-ahead run.
“I break right when I see the ball,” Choate said. “If she’s throwing it, right (when she releases it) is when I go, because if you leave any earlier than that, they’re going to pump fake it and throw you out.”
Cutler relieved Schwaier in the fifth. She shut out Gig Harbor in the final three frames, allowing only two hits. The two pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts.
Adams recorded the loss for Gig Harbor. She also struck out 11.
Gig Harbor rallied in the sixth and loaded the bases with two outs, but Cutler coolly struck out the side to end the Tides’ final threat.
“I don’t let it get to my head, and I just believe in my defense,” she said.
Yelm hasn’t lost a game in more than a month. Its only two losses this season are to Puyallup, which has already clinched the 4A SPSL South title, and reigning 2A state champion, W.F. West. Both of those teams are undefeated so far this season.
“I think we’re definitely even a step higher than our last team, and we made it to state last year,” Schwaier said. “There’s potential there that I don’t even know what we can do.”
Both Yelm and Gig Harbor advanced to the 4A state tournament last season, though neither placed.
Gig Harbor has dropped two games straight — it lost 1-0 to Bellarmine Prep on Tuesday — and now sits at 9-5 (5-2 4A Narrows). The Tides came back this week from a 10-day hiatus during spring break.
“The runners we’re getting on, we’re just not pushing them through right now,” Dressel said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Yelm hosts Stadium at 4 p.m. Friday, while Gig Harbor will travel to South Kitsap at 4 p.m. Friday.