SPOKANE — Alyson Ambler brought new meaning to the term “perfect game” on the opening day of the State 4A high school softball tournament.
Ambler led defending champion Walla Walla into this morning’s semifinals by throwing a perfect game and going 5-for-5 at the plate in a 13-0 rout of Bothell on Friday at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.
The Blue Devils (25-1), ranked 49th in the nation by ESPNHS.com, opened the tournament with a 17-0 romp over Central Kitsap of Silverdale. Both of Walla Walla’s games ended early due to the 10-run rule.
Richland (23-5), the only team to defeat Walla Walla this season, also went 2-0 on Friday. Today’s 9 a.m. semifinals match Richland and 25th-ranked Woodinville (24-0) and Walla Walla and Jefferson (26-4).
The title game in the double-elimination tournament is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Ambler lost a no-hitter on a scratch single in the fifth and final inning against Central Kitsap. She then retired all 18 batters she faced in a six-inning win over Bothell, with six of her 10 strikeouts coming against the first seven hitters.
Ambler (23-1) said she has no idea how many no-hitters and perfect games she’s pitched this season or in her four-year prep career. In fact, the personable right-hander said she didn’t know she threw a perfect game Friday until coach Jerry Humphreys told her afterwards.
“I thought I walked somebody,” Ambler said, “but I guess I didn’t.”
Richland’s pitchers weren’t nearly as dominant, but they were good enough to down Tahoma of Covington 3-1 and Rogers of Puyallup 13-10.
Senior first baseman Caitlyn Stevens sparked the second victory with a two-run double in the second inning and a grand slam in the third inning. Both blasts went to the opposite field (left-center) against a stiff wind.
“We came into the tournament knowing that we had a shot (to win),” said Stevens. “The past few years, it was, ‘Oh, good thing we made it.’ But this year, we’re going for the title. We’re in it to win it.”
The same is true of the Blue Devils, of course. Walla Walla won last year’s title at the Merkel Complex.
“I feel at home here we’re comfortable here,” Ambler said.
Ambler fanned 10 against Central Kitsap and hit one of the Blue Devils’ three home runs.
Catcher Kendsey Hill sparked a 17-hit attack by going 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, and recent junior varsity call-up Jacie McDaniels hammered a grand slam.
Walla Walla also pounded 17 hits against Bothell.
Crafty Richland southpaw Paige Goulet blanked Tahoma for six innings and finished with a six-hitter.
Lexi McCracken’s two-run double in the third inning was the key blow for the Bombers.
WALLA WALLA 17, CENTRAL KITSAP 0
Central Kitsap 000 00 -- 0 1 3
Walla Walla 432 8x -- 17 17 0
Game called after 4 1-2 innings due to 10-run rule. Caylee Coulter, Maddie White (4) and Tristine Vandeman; Alyson Ambler and Kendsey Hill. Highlights – Ambler HR, threw 1-hitter with 10 strikeouts. Hill 4-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI. Ellie Rassbach 3-for-3, 2B. Jacie McDaniels grand slam HR. Andrea Hamada 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI.
RICHLAND 3, TAHOMA 1
Tahoma 000 000 1 — 1 6 2
Richland 000 300 x -- 3 5 0
Jordan Walley and Breanna West; Paige Goulet and April Utecht. Highlights – Goulet scattered 6 hits. Lexi McCracken 2 hits, including 2-run 2B in 3rd inning.
WALLA WALLA 13, BOTHELL 0
Walla Walla 230 035 – 13 17 0
Bothell 000 000 – 0 0 3
Alyson Ambler and Kendsey Hill; Savannah Rose, Maddie Williams (6) and Arista Honey. Highlights – Ambler threw a perfect game with 10 strikeouts and went 5-for-5 at the plate. Libby Jimenez went 4-for-5 with 4 runs.
RICHLAND 13, ROGERS (PUYALLUP) 10
Rogers 105 002 2 – 10 13 2
Richland 024 403 x – 13 11 1
Tess Dixon, Ashley Maxwell (6) and Rylee Whispel; Kayla Andrews, Paige Goulet (6), Andrews (7) and Audrey Oleson. Highlights – Richland’s Caitlyn Stevens hit a 2-run double in the second inning and a grand slam in the third inning.