Softball: Othello tested heading into state

May 28, 2014 

Imagine your softball team trailing by eight runs with only two innings left to make up the difference. 

Tough situation, right? 

Try doing it against the defending state champions in their own backyard. 

Impossible, right? 

Not for the Othello Huskies, who pulled off a miraculous comeback in a 13-12 win last weekend against Selah in the District 5 playoffs with the last remaining berth to state on the line. 

The Huskies will be right back at Selah’s Carlon Park on Friday to open the Class 2A state tournament at 10 a.m. against Sultan.

But a state berth was far off when Othello had its backs against the wall heading into the bottom of the sixth at districts, trailing 12-4 with just six outs to preserve their season.

“In the top of the sixth, they scored three runs, and I was pretty much already starting to think about what (postgame) speech I was going to make,” Othello coach Rudy Ochoa said.

But the Huskies got things rolling in the bottom half of the sixth, getting seven runs to pull within 12-11 and give the team some much-needed momentum. The big hit was a two-out grand slam by Madison Martinez.

“That was so important, but the people who got on before that were the extremely important part. They got it started, but she kept it going,” senior first baseman Holly Fleshman said. “Softball is a game of momentum. It helps when we started getting good outs on defense, making routine plays we're supposed to make. Then, once a teammate gets it going, that momentum transfers to everyone else.”

Martinez retired the side in the top of the seventh, setting the stage for Dominique Martinez, who lined a one-out, two-run double to the fence in left center field for the win.

“That was probably the greatest win we've ever had,” Huskies left fielder Tori Zambrano said. “Those last couple innings were crazy. Some of us were in tears when Nicky (Dominique Martinez) hit that double.”

Before the tournament, Ochoa had worked hard with his coaches to instill a measure of humility in his team. But that lesson hit home when Othello dropped the first game of districts last Friday.

“I think they needed something like that to jar them,” Ochoa said. “We still need to get game experience to realize you have to put in the work to win. That's the only thing they're lacking.”

Fleshman said she expects Othello will come away with a state title after all the team went through Saturday. But she said the team will no longer take anything for granted after nearly missing state for just the third time in program history.

“We have to make sure we have hard practices all week and stay positive,” she said, noting that facing Selah was excellent preparation for state.

“Hitting-wise, (Selah) is one of the better teams we'll face. We don't know what's outside our league, so we have to prepare for (state opponents) to be better.”

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