RICHLAND -- When it comes to area softball showdowns, Walla Walla-Richland might be at the top of the list.
The longtime conference and postseason adversaries further cemented their rivalry Friday, splitting a CBBN 4A doubleheader at Columbia Playfield in Richland.
After dropping the first game 7-2, Richland rebounded for a 5-4 victory, tagging Walla Walla with its first loss of the season.
"The Richland squad did a nice job defensively (in Game 2). We just ran into a buzzsaw," Walla Walla coach Jerry Humphreys said.
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The Blue Devils looked to be inching toward a sweep when Andrea Hamada and Alyson Ambler hit back-to-back home runs off Paige Goulet to put Walla Walla up 2-1 in the top of the third. But the Bombers responded in the bottom half.
Cydney Elgin scored on a wild pitch by Hope Klicker that advanced runners to second and third. Dora Hernandez then hit a two-RBI single to put Richland ahead for good.
The Bombers' lead appeared in danger in the fourth after TraeAnn Payne hung a third homer on Goulet. After Kendsey Hill flied out to left, Janelle Hartford came up and singled off Goulet, chasing the sophomore left-hander. Senior righty Lindsey Walchli, who pitched the opener for Richland, re-entered the circle and held off Walla Walla the rest of the game.
In the seventh, Walchli was pushed to a full count three times but managed to strike out Payne on one of them for the second out of the inning. Hill popped up to Richland shortstop Maddie Chambers for the final out.
"There wasn't a doubt in my mind we weren't going to get that game," Walchli said. "We have the team, the defense. We showed how we really play in the second game."
The Bombers' play even led Walla Walla to swap pitchers, replacing all-state player Klicker with Ambler in the fifth.
"Even if I come out, I know Al will throw her best," Klicker said. "But that (coming out of the circle) hasn't really happened before."
Game 1 was all Walla Walla, largely thanks to Ambler, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth and recorded 11 strikeouts against the Bombers.
"I pitched against them two times last year," Ambler said. "We looked at their stats from last year and knew what they could hit and what they couldn't. I went with my gut instincts."
Still, neither Ambler nor Klicker could solve Hernandez, who went 5-for-6 on the day with four RBIs.
"It was the best feeling in the world going against them," said Hernandez, a platoon player last year.
"She's seeing a lot more pitches, and it paid off," Richland coach Casey Emery said.
Walla Walla's last regular-season conference loss came May 1, 2009, in a Cascade Division game against Kamiakin. Still, the split will serve as a lesson for the Blue Devils.
"It gives us a feeling knowing it won't be easy (the rest of the season)," Ambler said. "We'll use it as a speedbump, not a brick wall."
Walla Walla 310 300 0 -- 7 12 1
Richland010 000 1 -- 2 7 3
Alyson Ambler and Kendsey Hill; Lindsey Walchli and Bethany Burch.
Highlights -- Libbie Jimenez (WW) 2x4, 2 R, 2 2Bs; Andrea Hamada (WW) 2x4, 2 R; Ambler (WW) 11K, 2-run HR; Hope Klicker (WW) 2x4, 2B; TraeAnn Payne (WW) 2x4; Dora Hernandez (R) 3x3, 2 2Bs, RBI.
Walla Walla 002 101 0 -- 4 9 2
Richland013 100 x -- 5 9 0
Hope Klicker, Ambler (5) and Hill; Paige Goulet, Walchli (4) and Burch.
Highlights -- Hamada (WW) HR; Ambler (WW) HR; TraeAnn Payne (WW) 2B, HR; Hope Klicker (WW) 2x4, RBI; Bailey Walthers (R) 2x4, SB; Hernandez (R) 2x3, 2 RBIs; Burch (R) 2x3, RBI.