There is only one undefeated softball team left in Class 3A, and it is Yelm High School.
The Tornados delivered a commanding performance at Bonney Lake on Friday, shutting out the Panthers, 5-0, to take sole possession of that label.
“If we can do this to this team, especially, I believe we can do this to any team,” Yelm pitcher Drea Schwaier said. “It really makes me excited for what we can do later on in the season.”
Schwaier, a junior committed to Whitworth University, threw the first no-hitter of her high school career, fanning 16 batters.
She recorded nine consecutive strikeouts before Bonney Lake put the ball into play, and scattered seven more through the final four innings in her third shutout this season.
“Phenomenal,” Yelm coach Lindsay Walton said. “Probably one of the best games she’s ever pitched. She was just on it.”
Schwaier (8-0, 0.61 ERA) said she focused on getting ahead of batters early. Her curveball, changeup and rise ball were particularly effective.
Only two Panthers reached base during the outing — one on a dropped third strike and one by walk. Neither advanced beyond first base.
“I really tip my cap to their pitcher,” Bonney Lake coach Andrew Sage said. “She did a great job of shutting us down.”
The Panthers (12-1) are widely considered a top team in 3A, and favored to win the 3A Pierce County League, while Yelm (15-0) remains atop the 3A South Sound Conference.
This nonleague meeting was projected to be a postseason preview.
Bonney Lake pitcher Brooke Nelson, a sophomore committed to UW, allowed one earned run in the loss, and struck out five.
But the Panthers committed five errors, and Yelm answered with five runs on eight hits.
“We just didn’t do the little things today,” Sage said. “That’s not taking anything away from them — they’re an outstanding ballclub, and they played well today.”
Jaeden Ells, a junior, was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Tornados.
Senior Ally Choate, a Seattle U signee and The Olympian’s 2016 All-Area player of the year, went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and run scored.
“That was probably one of the best games we’ve played this season,” Ells said. “It’s just one of those games where we all came together.”
Following that final out, Yelm players gathered in the grass in shallow right field. Some players were emotional, with tears streaming down their faces.
“They just played their hearts out,” Walton said. “They love the game, they love each other, and I think that just came through.”
Walton said something had been missing before Friday’s game. Yelm has no-hit and shut out multiple teams this season, and has often shortened games by the 10-run rule.
But on Friday there was a renewed energy in the dugout.
“That little bit of spark, and talk, and chatter the whole time — we had that today,” Walton said. “And we played like a championship team.”
Yelm advanced to the 4A state tournament in the past two seasons.
“I feel like this team, this year, we’re going to go far,” Ells said. “The last couple of years we’ve been to state, but I know this year is the year.”