PREP SOFTBALL: Connell returns to Class 1A semifinals

By the Tri-City HeraldMay 30, 2014 

Connell is back at the state softball tournament.

That being said, it’s pretty easy to figure out what happened if recent history means anything.

The three-time defending state champion picked up a pair of wins Friday at the 1A state softball tournament at Columbia Playfield in Richland to stay in the hunt for a fourth straight title.

“In a tournament like this it’s all about the basics,” said Eagles coach Andy Sawyer.

Connell reached the semifinals with an 8-2 win over Lakeside, which earlier hit a grand slam walk-off home run to beat Woodland in the first round. The Eagles play Elma, which beat Seattle Christian 14-0 in another quarterfinal game, today at 9 a.m.

Connell opened the tournament with a 10-9 victory over Lynden Christian. The Eagles led 10-5 heading into the final inning before a couple miscues and walks made gave Lynden Christian a chance to tie the game.

“We made some defensive blunders in the first game,” Sawyer said.

Maybe it was jitters or pressure that comes with being the defending champs. Whatever it was, it was nowhere to be found in the second-round game.

After falling behind 1-0, Connell scored runs in four consecutive innings to take a 6-1 lead. Lakeside tried to mount a comeback, but that was extinguished when Hope Sawyer made a diving catch in center field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Eagles then doubled up a runner at third base to end the inning after allowing just one run.

“She has been dreaming about something like that all year,” Sawyer said.

Connell tacked on two more runs in the seventh to extend the lead to 8-2.

McKenna Mathis, after allowing two hits with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, got Hailey Lesser to ground out to third base to end the game.

Mathis allowed nine hits in the complete game victory.

“I thought after the first inning this was going to be our day,” said Lakeside coach Chuck Moffatt. “We just couldn’t adjust and hit a lot of pop ups.”

Lakeside took a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but would not score again until the sixth inning.  Connell came back in the second inning with a two-out bases loaded double by Hope Sawyer to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.

Sawyer was 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Mathis went 2 for 3 with a single, triple and two runs scored.

“Our goal is to stay in this as long as possible,” Andy Sawyer said.

Connell 10, Lynden Christian 9
Connell broke open a close game with a four-run sixth inning and then held on for the opening round win. Mathis got the complete game win on the mound and had two hits and four RBIs in the win. Sawyer and Kyra Courneya added two hits apiece in the win. Lynden Christian managed nine runs and had the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh inning before Mathis ended the game with a strikeout.

Warden, which knocked off Connell to win the SCAC district championship, was pushed into the loser’s bracket with a 14-4 loss to Hoquiam in the quarterfinals. Warden won its tournament opener with an 8-1 over Coupeville.

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