Longtime coach Mike Keen looked at his W.F. West girls after a long final day of the Class 2A state softball championships and proclaimed the obvious.
For a program built for winning state titles, a third-place finish Saturday was good — not great.
“Only one team in the state would be upset with taking third in the state tournament, and that is us,” Keen said. “That’s what happens when you taste the forbidden fruit of first place.”
The Bearcats (26-1) saw their 2A title defense rudely ended in the morning semifinals at Carlon Park.
They faced 2A SPSL and West Central District champion Fife, with ace pitcher Anna Kasner.
Still, the Bearcats got a pair of solo home runs off Kasner courtesy of Kindra Davis and Kassidy Grandorff to build a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning.
But Fife scored four times off Lexie Strasser — with the big blow a three-run home run by Margaret Crist to straightaway center field.
“It was … 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.’ ”
That was all the runs Kasner needed. She struck out 18 in the game. Fife won, 5-2, to hand the Bearcats their first loss of the season.
“You hear the cliché that good pitching beats good hitting,” Keen said. “We just saw a pitcher who went through us.”
No sooner after the Bearcats lost, they were back in the pressure cooker with a familiar foe from the 2A Evergreen Conference — Tumwater — in a loser-out consolation game.
And the Thunderbirds jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning, highlighted by Sawyer Vessey’s two-run single to center field.
But methodically, W.F. West cut into the lead — and eventually grabbed a 6-4 lead in the fifth inning, fueled by Roni Braun’s two-run single to right field.
“(W.F. West) finds a way to shut you down,” Tumwater assistant coach Tim Slavin said. “That is the way their program is.”
W.F. West blasted Selah, 12-7, in the final game to take third place.
“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.”
Yelm loses twice: The Tornados’ outstanding season came to an end Saturday afternoon at the Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane with a 5-0 loss to Jackson in a consolation semifinal. The Tornados lost their championship semifinal game earlier in the day to Woodinville, 5-0.
Jackson had a balanced scoring attack against the Tornados. Jackson’s Kirsten Scott opened the scoring with a solo home run in the second inning, and Jackson didn’t surrender its lead after that.
Yelm struggled to get on base. Ally Choate, Mackinzee Moore and Sage Ferrell were the only players to record a hit for the Tornados.
Yelm’s Drea Schwaier pitched six innings for the Tornados, giving up five hits and five runs. Only one run was earned.
Yelm finishes the season with a 24-5 record. The Tornados won the Class 4A Narrows League regular-season title.
Jon Manley of The Peninsula Gateway contributed to this report.