With all the attention given to west-side Class 2A softball powerhouse W.F. West, and challengers such as Fife from the same area — one community from Eastern Washington quietly keeps winning, too.
Othello High School.
The Huskies have a creed: “Defend Greatness.”
And on Saturday in the 2A title game, they did just that against the hottest pitcher in the tournament — Fife’s Anna Kasner.
Mariah DeLeon’s two-run double off Kasner in the sixth inning broke a tie, lifting Othello to a 3-1 victory over the Trojans at Carlon Park.
It was the Huskies’ eighth title-game appearance since 1999. They added another 2A title to the ones they captured in 1999, 2002 and 2008.
DeLeon, the Othello catcher, lined a deep double to the base of the right-field fence, scoring Lidize DeLeon and Dominique Martinez.
“Once I knew there was two people on base, I told myself I was going to look for an outside pitch and take it that way,” Mariah DeLeon said. “I was pumped. Adrenaline was running through my body, and I knew I was going to hit (it).”
Earlier in that inning, Kasner blasted a first-pitch laser off Martinez for a solo home run to center field with two outs to tie the game at 1-1.
“Just a dart,” Fife coach Michelle Nixon said. “It was perfect.”
Really, there was little more Kasner could do for Fife (22-2). First, she led the team to a 5-2 victory over defending 2A champion W.F. West in the morning semifinals, striking out 18.
Funny — Saturday was also her 18th birthday.
She didn’t quite get that total in the championship game against Othello. She did strike out 10 and give up just three hits.
“I really think she pitched her heart and soul out,” Nixon said. “That is always something Anna has done.”
She also had to pitch with a limited strike zone. Both sides agreed that anything at the letters — usually off a rise ball — was not called a strike.
And the Huskies figured that out quickly.
“They wanted to lay off the rise ball. They did, and the umpire wasn’t calling it (a strike),” Kasner said. “I was trying to hit corners, hit spots and rely on the defense behind me.”
Othello took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on Diamond Franco’s RBI double to straightaway center.
Kasner tied it by hitting it a few feet beyond that an inning later.
But the Huskies got the decisive hit when they needed it.
The loss was devastating, but Kasner said because of the overall showing, it would not put a damper on her special birthday.
“It was pretty crazy to make it to the championship game,” said Kasner, who had 62 strikeouts in four tournament games. “No softball team at Fife had ever done that. I am extremely blessed to have the team I do have.”
Of course, there was a morning semifinal showdown that had to be settled first.
Kassidy Grandorff gave W.F. West a 2-1 lead in the fifth with her solo home run off Kasner — the second home run the Trojans’ ace pitcher gave up in the game.
But in the bottom of the sixth, Fife scored four times. The crushing blow was Margaret Crist’s three-run home run off Lexie Strausser to straightaway center field.
Crist, whose nickname is “Lucky,” was anything but on that decisive swing as she attacked a 1-0 fastball.
“It was a fastball down the pipe,” said Crist, a third baseman who hit her first home run of the season. “And I blew my lungs out screaming. When I hit it, I said, ‘It is gone.’ ”
Kasner allowed only two hits.
W.F. West won its final two games to take third place. The Bearcats rallied past 2A Evergreen Conference rival Tumwater, 6-4, then blasted Selah, 12-7.
“After we lost (to Fife) … we were pretty upset. But after that, we realized there was nothing we could do about it anymore,” Strausser said. “We just had to focus on the next game.”