LACEY — If not for the 500-mile round trip from Kennewick, Tim Bisson wouldn’t mind playing all of the Kamiakin High school home fastpitch games in Lacey.
“If we could, we’d play all our games here in a heartbeat,” Bisson, the team’s coach said. “We absolutely love it here.”
Why wouldn’t they? Every time the Braves come to Thurston County, they leave with a shiny trophy.
Melanie Oord hit a two-run single, freshman pitcher Emiley Moore kept Enumclaw’s high-powered offense at bay and the Braves won their third consecutive Class 3A state fastpitch championship with a 4-2 victory over the previously-undefeated Hornets on Saturday at the Regional Athletic Complex.
Kamiakin (24-2) becomes the first team in any of the large-school classifications to win three consecutive fastpitch state titles. The Braves defeated Everett (6-1) in 2012 and Prairie (12-7) last year in the title game.
“Each title is so different, but each one is special,” Bisson said. “If you ask any senior on this team, they will tell you the most memorable season was the one they didn’t win a title. It motivated them.”
Since the 3A state tournament was moved to the RAC in 2011, Kamiakin is 15-2 in Lacey, including a 12-game winning streak. The Braves last loss in the state tournament came in 2011 when they were eliminated by Kelso, 10-4.
It was the first loss for Enumclaw, which finished its season with a record of 28-1.
“We played great today. (Kamiakin) just played better,” Hornets coach Mike Eckhart said. “We had an incredible season, set the school record for wins, got to the title game. We’re a very young team. We’ll be back.”
Enumclaw sophomore Quinn Breidenbach was on cruise control early on, chalking up five strikeouts through three scoreless innings.
The Hornets took a 2-0 lead on Joslin Pierotti’s RBI in the third and Madelyn Carlson’s sacrifice in the fourth.
Kamiakin, which won last year’s title with a seven-run seventh inning, got its first run in the most unconventional fashion.
First, Kenzie Lowry was hit by a pitch. Then the junior made her way around the bases on three consecutive wild pitches, cutting the Braves’ deficit in half.
Oord delivered what turned out to be the game-winner, smacking a two-run double with two outs in the fifth.
“I wasn’t playing too hot up to that point,” said Oord, who was 0-for-2 with a strikeout before her run-scoring hit. “Being a three-year starter and a senior, I just knew I had to be clutch.”
The Braves added one more run in the sixth.
Backed by a handful of defensive gems, Moore pitched a 1-2-3 fourth and surrendered harmless singles in both the fifth and sixth innings.
After Chloe Young’s two-out single in the seventh, Enumclaw was able to get the tying run to the plate, but Breidenbach’s fly out to center ended the contest.
Kamiakin defeated Shadle Park, 13-3, in the semifinals, getting home runs from Hunter Schneitter and Emily Benson.
The Hornets’ trip to the finals was a touch more dramatic as they put away Glacier Peak, 4-3, in their semifinal matchup.
Breidenbach fanned 11 batters, while teammate Carlson hit a solo home run and finished with two RBIs, helping Enumclaw take a 3-0 lead against the Grizzlies.
Shadle Park 4, Prairie 3: Freshman Jaya Allen’s RBI double in the top of the seventh proved to be the game winner as the Highlanders knocked off the Falcons in the Class 3A third/fourth-place game.
Allen finished with three RBIs, while Berkley Fisher went 2-for-4 and scored twice for Shadle Park.
Both teams needed dramatic victories in the consolation bracket to advance to the trophy round.
Prairie put away Glacier Peak, 10-9, in 10 innings, while Shadle Park scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to eliminate Greater Spokane League rival University, 4-3.
Bearcats stumble: W.F. West entered Saturday’s 2A state tournament in Selah undefeated at 24-0.
But after two consecutive losses, the Bearcats left state without a trophy, let alone their second state championship in four years.
W.F. West suffered its first loss of the season in the state semifinals to eventual state runner-up Othello, 9-3.
That sent the Bearcats to the consolation round. A win would have guaranteed them at least fourth place, but Anacortes stunned the Bearcats, 8-7, to end W.F. West’s season.
Anacortes lost to Lynden 6-1,, in the third-place game.
The Bearcats allowed 17 runs their two games Saturday after entering the day having allowed 35 runs all season (1.5 per game).
Anacortes ended Tumwater’s season, too. It beat the Thunderbirds, 7-4, in the third round of consolation.
Tumwater rebounded from its opening-round loss to Fife on Friday with wins against Sultan and Capital before its loss Saturday.