Their coach admitted it wasn’t the Yelm Tornados’ sharpest game of the year.
But it worked, and it gave the Narrows League 4A regular-season softball champions the chance to add the league tournament title to their 2016 résumé.
Yelm defeated South Kitsap, 5-3, on Thursday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey to earn the right to play Gig Harbor at 3 p.m. Friday for the Narrows tournament crown.
The Tornados (18-2 overall, including a 12-0 Narrows schedule) managed only four hits, but took full advantage of their opportunities on the base paths for three runs in the fourth inning and a decisive two runs in the fifth after South Kitsap pulled into a 3-3 tie.
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“When they can come through and find it sometime in the game, I’m happy,” Yelm coach Lindsay Walton said.
Yelm failed to score in the third inning with the bases loaded after a single by Sage Farrell and a double by Nicky Dehan, but went up 3-0 in the fourth without the benefit of a base hit.
Taylor Gubser got an RBI on a fielder’s-choice bunt, and two more runs came in on two throwing errors by the Wolves on Gubser’s steal of second base.
Yelm starter Drea Schwaier struck out the side in the first and second innings, and in her four innings of work gave up no hits and fanned eight.
In the fifth, with Tayelin Cutler on the mound for Yelm, the Wolves scored all of their runs. Two walks and an error loaded the bases, and Alexis Gojkovich cleared them with a bad-hop double that bounded high over Yelm second baseman Dehan’s head, then split the outfielders and rolled almost to the right field fence.
South Kitsap again loaded the bases in the fifth, with only one out, but Cutler put together back-to-back strikeouts.
In the Yelm half of the fifth, Ally Choate led off with a double off the left-center field fence, the hardest-hit ball in the game. Dehan followed with a single before Carley Nelson executed a delayed squeeze bunt to score Choate. A South Kitsap error allowed Dehan to score.
Presented with the lead, Cutler set down the Wolves in order in the sixth and struck out the side in the seventh, sandwiched around two walks that had the go-ahead run at the plate.
The Schwaier-Cutler tandem is tried and true for the Tornados, Walton said. Schwaier, who has more movement on the ball, usually starts, and is relieved in the middle innings by Cutler, who throws harder.
“They complement each other,” Walton said.
Next up is Gig Harbor, which lost twice by one run to Yelm in Narrows play, including a 3-2 loss at Yelm after the Tides took a 2-1 lead to the bottom of the seventh.
“They want to beat us bad,” Walton said. “We have to want it more.”
Gig Harbor (14-6) advanced with a 6-2 victory over Bellarmine. The Tides broke open a close game in the sixth, with Lauren Forseth’s two-run homer the big blow.
Tides coach Kara Dressel said Yelm’s edge in its narrow wins over Gig Harbor could be traced to errors. Junior pitcher Jordan Adams struck out 12 Tornados in the game at Yelm.
Bellarmine (11-10), which beat Olympia, 11-1, to earn the shot at Gig Harbor, will play at 3 p.m. Friday against South Kitsap with third and fourth places at stake.
Timberline, which lost to South Kitsap in the early afternoon Thursday, will play Olympia in a loser-out game, with the winner moving on as the fifth seed to the West Central District tournament.
Bellarmine 11, Olympia 1: The Lions rolled over the Bears in five innings.
Chelsea Smith was dominant, striking out eight in a complete game.
Hayley McMasters went 3 for 3 with four RBIs and a double for Bellarmine.
The Lions took firm control with seven runs in the fourth inning. Two more runs in the fifth gave Bellarmine a 10-run lead and ended the game.
Shelton 7, North Thurston 6: A huge rally from the Rams was not enough to overcome an early lead held by the Highclimbers, who advanced to the 3A Narrows championship game.
Shelton scored all of its runs in the first three innings and figured to coast. However, North Thurston roared to life in the sixth inning, scoring six runs.
Despite outhitting Shelton, 12 to 11, North Thurston heads to the losing side of the bracket and plays for third place.
Track and field
4A Narrows League championships: The Olympia boys picked up two first-place finishes on the first day of the meet at Highclimber Stadium in Shelton.
The Bears are in second place in the team competition with 65.5 points. Gig Harbor is in first with 108.5 points.
David Woodward — currently ranked third in 4A in the javelin — won the event with a throw of 186 feet, 9 inches. Jakob Steen cleared a personal-best 6-04 in the high jump, while Dayne Shafer took second at 6-0.
Timberline’s Keshara Romain won the girls triple jump at 36-09.25, while Yelm’s Princess Sullivan took first in the girls 100-meter dash at 12.76 seconds.
The meet will resume at 11 a.m. Saturday at Highclimber Stadium. The top five finishers in each event advance to next week’s West Central/Southwest bi-district meet in Kent.
3A Narrows League championships: Regie (Taylor) Grady and Rosa Quimby both picked up first-place finishes on the first day of the meet at Highclimber Stadium.
Capital’s girls currently sit in first with 84.5 points.
The boys team is in second, behind Lincoln, with 63.5 points.
Quimby won the pole vault with a personal-best mark of 8-0, while Grady won the 100 at 12.89. Capital’s John Gerhard won the boys high jump at 6-0.
The Shelton boys nearly swept the throws with wins in the shot put (Mike Husky at 51-01.5) and javelin (Cody Hall at 158-02). Alex Konneh took first in the 110 hurdles at 15.58.
The meet will resume at 11 a.m. Saturday at Highclimber Stadium. The top six finishers in each event advance to next week’s West Central/Southwest bi-district meet in Kent.
2A SPSL/Seamount/KingCo sub-district meet: River Ridge’s Josh Braverman set a sub-district best, personal best, school record and new 2A state best in the 110 hurdles at 14.06.
Braverman qualified for next week’s 2A West Central District meet in the 110 hurdles and long jump (20-04 ¾) on the first day of the sub-district meet at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Alex Coleman (21-04), DJ Smith (20-07 ¾) and Jordan Skipper-Brown (20-01) also qualified in the long jump. The 4x100 relay team of Ryan Blash, Coleman, Smith and Drayden Alexander won its heat to qualify.
Yelm 5, South Kitsap 3
South Kitsap 000 030 0 – 3 2 3
Yelm 000 320 x — 5 4 2