SPOKANE — If Alyson Ambler didn’t bring her “A” game to the 4A Eastern Regional softball tournament, she certainly had the opposition fooled.
Walla Walla’s senior pitcher struck out 19 batters in a 4-0 no-hitter against Mead and then scattered eight hits in an 8-2 win against CBBN 4A rival Richland in the regional championship game on Saturday at Central Valley High School.
The win represented the fourth consecutive 4A regional championship for Walla Walla and the fifth state trip under coach Jerry Humphreys.
“The kids played really well,” said Humphreys, who led Wa-Hi to its first softball state championship last season. “We just enjoy having them rolling along.”
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Despite Ambler’s impressive strikeout total against Mead, her coach said she wasn’t quite as dominating as the final numbers showed.
“She threw a lot of pitches. She was battling the whole time,” Humphreys said. “She was struggling a little, but 19 strikeouts is pretty amazing in a regional tournament.”
In the championship game against Richland, it was the Bombers who got on the board early putting up a run in the top of the first inning before Andrea Hamada blasted a two-run home run in the bottom half of the first to put the Blue Devils back up 2-1. Walla Walla wouldn’t trail again. Kendsey Hill and Jordy Storm each added three hits for the defending champions.
“It’s very disappointing to lose to Walla Walla. We knew it would be a tough challenge, and we’re extremely happy where we’re at to go to state,” said Bombers coach Casey Emery. “Once we get back to practice on Monday, the girls will be excited about going back.”
Richland strung together a pair of impressive victories over Gonzaga Prep and Central Valley to earn a spot in the title game. The Bombers exploded for 33 hits in the two wins, including five apiece from Bailey Walthers and Monika Hebky.
Hebky, who is recovering from thyroid cancer, added two doubles and six RBIs.
“The meds she’s on for her thyroid, she’s going through a lot of stuff. It’s amazing how well she’s performing,” Emery said. “She made some unbelievable plays against Walla Walla.
Chiawana was tied with Mead 5-all after 51⁄2 innings before the Panthers scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull out the victory. Kim Poma and Danielle Sanaski each had three hits for the Riverhawks.
“We played pretty well. We just kind of got outhit in the game,” said Chiawana coach Paul Antonovich. “We were down and we fought back. I’m pleased with the effort.”
Chiawana 000 014 0 — 5 12 0Mead 000 054 x — 9 11 0
Katie Axelson (L), Kim Poma (6) and Maddie Heine; Hannah Beloved, Kylie Bremmer (6, W) and Kodee Kinder. Highlights—Chi: Whitney Weber 2x4, 2 RBI, 2B; Heine 2x4; Danielle Sanaski 3x4; Kaitlin Simpkins 2x4, 2B, RBI; Poma 3x3, 2B, 2 RBI, 0.2IP-3H-2R-2ER-1BB-0K; Axelson 5.1IP-8H-7R-7ER-2BB-1K. Mead: Kaitlyn Huggins 2x4, 2 2B, RBI; Bremmer 1.1IP-3H-0R-0ER-0BB-0K; Beloved 2x2, 5.2IP-9H-5R-5ER-0BB-6K; Mackenzie Kutz 1x4, 2 RBI.
Gonzaga Prep 000 00 — 0 0 3Richland 260 11 — 10 19 0
1 out when 10-run rule called into play. Selena Rima, Amy Schmidt (3) and Mackenzie Via; Kayla Andrews and Audrey Oleson. Highlights—Bailey Walthers (R) 2x4; Cydney Elgin (R) 3x4, 2R; Dora Hernandez (R) 3x4, 2R, 2 RBI, 3B; Andrews (R) 2x3, RBI, 9K-4BB; Monika Hebky (R) 3x3, 2R, 3 RBI, 2B; Caitlyn Stevens (R) 2x3, 2 RBI, HR; Lexi McCracken (R) 2x3, R.
Richland 100 333 — 10 14 0Central Valley 000 000 — 0 5 1
Paige Goulet and April Utecht; Carol Riordan, Carissa Selas (5) and Mckenzie Shoa. Highlights—Walthers (R) 3x4, R; Utecht (R) 2x4, RBI; Andrews (R) 2x3, 2R, 2B; Hebky (R) 2x4, 3 RBI, 2B; Goulet (R) 2x3, 3 RBI, 2B, 7K-0BB.
Mead 000 000 0 — 0 0 2Walla Walla 000 202 x — 4 5 1
Kylie Bremner and Cody Kinder; Alyson Ambler and Kendsey Hill. Highlights—Ambler (WW) 19 Ks; Hill (WW) 2x3, 3B; TraeAnn Payne (WW) 2-run single in fourth; Janelle Hartford (WW) 2-run double. .
Richland 100 001 0 — 2 8 1Walla Walla 201 420 x — 9 14 0
Kayla Andrews, Paige Goulet (4), Abby Perryman and Audrey Oleson, April Utecht (4); Ambler and Hill. Highlights—Andrea Hamada (WW) 3x3, HR; Hill (WW) 3x4; Jordy Storm (WW) 3x4, 2B.
Eagles defend SCAC crown:Connell defended its ownership of the SCAC 1A crown with wins over Connell (6-5) and Zillah (8-5) in the district tournament at West Valley in Yakima.
In the win against Cle Elum, it was Ashley Thompson’s sacrifice fly to right field that won the game as it delivered Hope Sawyer and Savannah Egbert home — with no outs riding in the balance.
And in title match, Thompson backed up a six RBI performance at the plate with solid pitching: she struck out 12 over six innings to tame Zillah’s bats.
Cle Elum 000 410 0 — 5 6 1Connell 000 013 2 — 6 8 3
No outs when game-winning run scored. Laura Potts and Ashley Morehouse; Ashley Thompson and Shanika Sawyer. Highlights—CE: Potts 5K-2BB. Con: Savannah Egbert 2x4, 2B, RBI; Thompson 1x2, 2B, 2 RBI, 11K-4BB; Paxton Carlile 1x3, 2B
Connell 202 030 1 — 8 11 1Zillah 010 101 2 — 5 4 1
Thompson, Makenna Mathis (7) and Sawyer; Samantha Robillar and Kassidy Ruggles. Highlights—Con: Thompson 3x3, 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBI, 6IP-12K; Egbert 2x2, RBI, HR.