SPOKANE — The best of the best in Washington high school softball squared off in the championship game of the 4A state tournament, and the very best of the best emerged as champion.
“They were the best team by far that we’ve faced,” Walla Walla catcher Kendsey Hill said after the Woodinville Falcons downed the Blue Devils 6-0 on Saturday night in a game that matched the state’s only ranked teams in the ESPNHS.com Top 50.
The lopsided defeat marked a rare event for the Blue Devils and standout senior pitcher Alyson Ambler. Walla Walla wound up 26-2 this season after finishing in the top three at state for the fourth consecutive year (winning last season) and posting a remarkable 109-7 record over that span.
“They’re just a super group of athletes,” Walla Walla coach Jerry Humphreys said of his players, “but more important, they’re just a quality group of individuals.
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“Woodinville hit the ball like crazy and played a great game. We’ve got to tip our hats to them.”
ESPNHS.com ranks Woodinville 25th and Walla Walla 49th in the nation. Ambler is headed to Connecticut to pitch and play the outfield, and Woodinville junior Madi Schreyer has made a verbal commitment to pitch for Stanford.
Meanwhile, Richland bounced back from a 11-1 semifinal loss to Woodinville with a 10-4 rout of Monroe and a 13-3 romp over Jefferson to claim the third-place trophy.
Richland, the only team to beat Walla Walla before Woodinville downed the Blue Devils in the championship game, finished the year 25-6 after going 4-1 at state at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.
Woodinville 6, Walla Walla 0: Ambler (24-2), who threw a one-hitter and a perfect game in Walla Walla’s two Friday games, needed 38 pitches to make it through the first inning against Woodinville. She gave up two runs and three hits that inning, and Walla Walla trailed 5-0 after Emily Jackson smacked a two-run single in the fourth.
Schreyer, whose fastball has been clocked at 65 mph (Ambler tops out at 62 mph), struck out eight. Humphreys said Schreyer is “definitely” the best pitcher his team faced this season.
“I agree 100 percent,” said Hill, a junior. “She throws hard. She’s got good movement.”
Obviously, Schreyer also must be good in the classroom if Stanford is recruiting her.
Schreyer isn’t the only academic standout on the Falcons; they were honored after Saturday’s game for posting the highest team grade point average (3.722) among 4A softball teams in the state.
“This team was amazing to play with,” Schreyer said. “It’ll be sad to see the seven seniors go, but it was such a blast to play with them.”
Richland 13, Jefferson 3: The Bombers led 12-0 after 21⁄2 innings against Jefferson and cruised home in the third- and fourth-place game. The contest, watched by an estimated 250 spectators and a regional television audience, was called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
Senior first baseman Caitlyn Stevens, batting eighth in the order, continued her hot hitting at state by going 4-for-4 with a double. Stevens plans to play for Columbia Basin College next year.
“She was great,” said winning pitcher Paige Goulet, who threw a six-hitter. “She’s always been a ‘go-to’ hitter. She always seems to get that big hit.”
The Bombers collected 16 hits off the pitching-poor Raiders (27-6), who are based in Auburn. Kayla Andrews went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Richland 10, Monroe 4: The Bombers jumped on the Bearcats for seven runs in the first inning and backed the four-hit pitching of Andrews with 15 hits. Andrews struck out nine, including all three batters in the seventh inning.
Andrews went 4-for-5, and Stevens was 3-for-4 with a homer. Bailey Walthers, C.J. Elgin and Dora Hernandez opened the game with singles to start the Bombers on their way.
Walla Walla 000 000 0 — 0 3 4
Woodinville 201 201 x — 6 8 3
Alyson Ambler and Kendsey Hill; Madi Schreyer and Alex Boyd. Highlights—Schreyer (Wood) 8K; Emily Jackson (Wood) 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2R, SB.
Walla Walla 204 000 2 – 8 11 1
Jefferson 000 005 1 – 6 7 0
Alyson Ambler and Kendsey Hill; Katie Jackson, Rocky Hale (4) and Alex Rodriguez. Highlights—Jordie Storm (WW) 3-for-3, 2 RBIs; Ambler (WW) 2x3, 2B.
Richland 336 00 – 13 16 1
Jefferson 003 00 – 3 6 1
Game called after five innings due to 10-run rule.
Paige Goulet and Audrey Oleson; Katie Jackson, Rocky Hale (2), Jackson (3) and Alex Rodriguez. Highlights – Caitlyn Stevens, R, 4-for-4, RBI, 2B. Kayla Andrews, R, 3-for-4, 2 RBI, R. Dora Hernandez, R, 2-for-3, 2 RBI, 3R, 3B.
Richland 701 200 0 — 10 15 4
Monroe 100 210 0 – 4 4 0
Kayla Andrews and Audrey Oleson; Alyssa Egan and Rachel Delamare. Highlights – Andrews struck out 9, including all three batters in the seventh, and went 4-for-5 at the plate, 2R, RBI. Caitlyn Stevens, R, 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI.
Richland 000 01 — 1 3 3
Woodinville 700 04 — 11 11 0
Game called after five innings due to 10-run rule.
Paige Goulet, Kayla Andrews (1), Abby Perryman (5) and April Utecht; Madi Schreyer and Alex Nelson. Highlights – Kayla O’Farrell, W, 2-for-3, 2R.
Woodinville 11, Richland 1: The unbeaten Falcons, ranked 25th in the nation by ESPNHS.com, stepped on the Bombers’ throats by scoring seven runs in the first inning. The 10-run rule brought the game to an end after five innings.
“They were a solid team defensively and offensively,” Goulet said, “but I think we came out kind of flat.”
Stanford-bound Madi Schreyer, a hard-throwing junior, struck out six in a three-hitter.“She’s one of the best pitchers we’ve ever seen,” Goulet said. “Her speed was a change for us.”
Walla Walla 8, Jefferson 6: The Blue Devils’ 18th consecutive win did not come easy, even though they led the team from Auburn 6-0 after five innings.
The Raiders, who wound up taking fourth and finishing 27-6, scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth. TraeAnn Payne followed Ambler’s leadoff double in the seventh with a two-run double, but the Raiders scratched out one more run off Ambler in their half of the inning.
Andrea Hamada and Hill homered in the first inning. Hamada homered in each of Walla Walla’s first three games at state.