PORTLAND — Returning to the NWAACC softball tournament for the first time since 2010, the Columbia Basin College Lady Hawks (26-20) recorded a 14-10 come-from-behind opening win over the Lower Columbia Red Devils (24-17) Friday at Portland’s Delta Park.
The Hawks overcame an 8-1 deficit by scoring a combined total of 13 runs in the fifth and sixth innings to capture a fourth consecutive win. CBC’s win streak was snapped, however, after a lopsided 18-3 loss to East Region champion Wenatchee Valley Knights (41-4) in their second contest Friday.
“We gave the girls the nickname Cardiac Kids because they don't get nervous whenever they fall behind,” CBC coach Rudy Ochoa said. “They always keep fighting and swinging the bats hard and they never give up. They play with lots of heart and good character and they’re a fun team to watch.”
The Hawks play the West Region champion Pierce Raiders (27-18) in a 10 a.m. elimination contest today. If CBC wins, it faces the winner of a matchup between Bellevue (36-6) and Olympic (16-16) at 12:15 p.m. today as the Hawks try to stay alive in the 16-team, four-day double-elimination event.
“I’m so proud of them for winning our first game,” said Ochoa. “We knew coming in here that we could do it and I never doubted that. Our expectations are to go out and win every game. We've got a lot of work to do though. I feel confident that we’ll bounce back after a loss, which we always do and come back and get the job done in our next game. Wenatchee is a very good team, but they’re not as good as was indicated by the score.”
After falling behind 8-1 after four innings, CBC responded with a four-run fifth, highlighted by Kendra Boehning’s three-run double, trimming the margin to 8-5. The 10th-seeded Hawks capitalized on a number of LCC mistakes to get nine runs in the sixth on five hits to grab a 14-8 lead.
“We had a great start in Game 1, and we still believe that we can make it to the championship game,” said Boehning. “We were the underdogs, so it felt exciting to get a win against LCC. We just went out there and hit well like we’re capable of doing.”
Boehning (2-for-4, 4 RBI), Brenda Rodriguez (1-for-4, RBI), Bailey Walthers (3-for-5, RBI) and Hannah Sams (2-for-2, RBI) each drove in runs to lead the Hawks.
“We’re ready to play and it felt good to start the tournament with a win,” said Walthers, a 2012 Richland grad who leads the Hawks offense with a .452 batting average.
Rodriguez started in the pitching circle versus LCC and was relieved after three innings by Shawney Garcia, who was credited with the win while allowing just two runs scored in four innings pitched.
“I had my team behind me, so I really wasn’t nervous at all,” said Garcia, who utilized a dropball, changeup and fastball to keep LCC batters off balance. “We went out there and got the runs we needed to get the win. I was able to pitch well because my teammates did such a great job of playing defense.”
CBC took an early 2-0 first inning advantage over WV when Rodriguez hammered a ball over the 200-foot left field fence, driving home Ashlen Ayres of Kennwick, who earlier singled. It was a short lived edge though as WV answered with four runs in the bottom half of the frame for a 4-2 lead. Wenatchee’s momentum continued in the second and third as they extended the lead to 18-2. The game concluded in the fifth via the eight-run Mercy Rule.
“It feels good to be at the tournament and I’m really excited for our seven sophomores to be here,” said Ochoa. “Our coaching staff (Alex Cuello, Kelly Richards, Mick Hockenson) has put in lots of hard work all season long and we feel confident that things will be much different on Saturday. We told the girls to have a short term memory so that they can forget about the loss and move on.”