It’s common knowledge that if you can’t beat Ashley Thompson, you can’t beat the Connell softball team.
The hard-throwing right-hander wasn’t quite at the top of her game Friday at the Class 1A state tournament at Columbia Playfields in Richland. Some minor control issues led to five walks on the day, which turned into some run-scoring chances.
But the scary thing is, even if you do manage to beat Thompson at the plate, the Eagles are still good enough to take you down.
The defending Class 1A champions proved that with a pair of five-inning, mercy-shortened victories against Riverside and Eatonville to return to the semifinals, where they will face Montesano today at 9 a.m.
“We want to take care of business. If we’re allowed, we want to shorten games to five innings,” Connell coach Andy Sawyer said. “We try not to do a whole bunch of messing around. We’re at state.”
Thompson struck out 12 and scored two runs in a 10-0 quarterfinal win over Eatonville. She tossed 4 2/3 innings before allowing her first hit of the game, which did not seem to disappoint the BYU-bound senior. She also struck out 14 and walked three in a 14-2 first-round win over Riverside.
“It’s not about no-hitters. In the end, we’re not focused on the score as much as just winning every inning,” Thompson said.
Thompson and Michelle Schultz blasted home runs against Riverside, two of six extra-base hits for the Eagles in the opener. Connell added nine more hits in the quarterfinal win over Eatonville — eight of them singles — but they showed a propensity for the small-ball approach.
McKenna Mathis went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, including an opposite-field RBI single to left on a nice, inside-out swing in the bottom of the fifth to drive in Schultz to make it 7-0.
Mathis did it all with a sore wrist. The sophomore shortstop put the tag on a Riverside runner in the early game but her hand got caught underneath the runner.
“I heard it snap,” said Mathis, who had X-rays taken after the game. Asked what she would do if doctors told her it was broken, she didn’t hesitate.
“I’d still play. This is state,” she said.
Sawyer reported via text message that Mathis iced the injury Friday night and is expected to play today.
While Connell advanced, three other SCAC East teams were eliminated from state play, with each losing twice on the first day.
Columbia-Burbank lost a tight 2-1 matchup against Cascade, which broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the bottom of the sixth. The Coyotes then fell 6-2 to Seattle Christian despite doubles from Brittany Cotsford and Christina Reisenauer.
River View had a much rougher exit, allowing 33 runs on 30 hits in a pair of five-inning losses to Okanogan and Mount Baker. The Panthers led Okanogan 1-0 in the top of the first, but the Bulldogs scored two in the first, four in the second and 13 in the bottom of the third to put the game out of reach.
Jessica Burrus and Shelby Salter each had two hits for River View, but Makenzie Norwill hit for the cycle to lead Okanogan. Mount Baker then drilled the Panthers 14-0 in the consolations.
Warden fell 19-6 to Lakeside in the first round and 10-5 to Elma in the consolations.
Columbia Burbank 001 000 0 — 1 5 2
Cascade 010 001 x — 2 7 1
Brittany Cotsford and Rachel Roberts; Taliyah Riddick-Waters and Sierra Guthrie. Highlights—Kaelyn O’Brien (Cas) 2B; Sydney Coffin (Cas) 2B; Hannah Cowan (Cas) 2B; Marissa Thompson (Cas) 2x3.
Riverside 000 11 — 2 2 1
Connell 130 (10)x — 14 9 0
Keelin Hunt, Julie Rasmussen (5) and Jacy Hunt; Ashley Thompson and Alex Shuster. Highlights—Jessica Hawkins (C) 2x3, 2 2B; Savannah Egbert (C) 2x3, 3B; Michelle Schultz (C) HR; Grayson Corrales (C) 3B; Thompson (C) HR.
River View 110 13 — 6 8 3
Okanogan 24(13) 0x — 19 16 5
Kaylee Lozier, Aleah Wright (4) and Shelby Salter; Makenzie Norwill, Brooklyn Bauer (5) and Darlene Carrillo, Peyton Oules (5). Highlights—Salter (RV) 2x3, 3B; Jessica Burrus (RV) 2x3, 2 2B; Norwill (O) 4x4, 2B, 3B, HR, hit for cycle; Kailey Huner (O) 3x3; Kelsey Chiles (O) 2x3, 2B; Keeley Morris (O) 3B; Kailey Harris (O) 2x3, 2B; Cameron Moses (O) 2x3.
Lakeside 003 371 5 — 19 21 6
Warden 201 020 1 — 6 12 5
Nikki Tiffany and Hannah Tanner; Aaliyah Enriquez, Iris Rodriguez (5) and Bianca Hernandez. Highlights—Lauren Gerty (L) 5x6, 2 2B, 3B; Madi Naccarato (L) 3x5, 2B, HR; Kenzi Carden (L) 3x5; Rodriguez (W) 2x4, HR; Nancy Guerra (W) 2x4; Hernandez (W) 2x4, 2B; Gonzalez (W) HR.
Eatonville 000 00 — 0 1 4
Connell 021 25 — 10 9 1
One out when 10-run rule invoked. Maddy Smith and Shelby Myton; Thompson and Shuster. Highlights—Egbert (C) 2x3, 2 RBI; Thompson (C) 12 Ks, 2B, 2R, SB; Schultz (C) 2R; McKenna Mathis (C) 2x3, 2R, 2 RBI; J.Hawkins (C) 2x3, R, 2 RBI; MarciAnne Hawkins (C) 2R.
Seattle Christian 002 220 0 — 6 7 2
Columbia-Burbank 000 200 0 — 2 3 4
Alyssa Baucom and Molli Ronish; Cotsford and Roberts. Highlights—Makenna Wallingford (SC) 2x3, 2B; Benita Beale (SC) 2x3, 2B, HR; Kellie Kumasaka (SC) 2B; Lisa Kumasaka (SC) 2B; Cotsford (CB) 2B; Christina Reisenauer (CB) 2B.
River View 000 00 — 0 4 2
Mount Baker 016 7x — 14 14 1
Lozier, Aleah Wright (4) and Salter; Aleks Toivola and Emily Yost. Highlights—Yost (MB) 2x4, 2B; Lacey Postlewait (MB) 2x4, 2B; Aysha Schwinden (MB) 2x3, 3B; Emily Brandland (MB) 2x3, 2B.
Warden 100 020 2 — 5 9 2
Elma 104 401 x — 10 9 2
Enriquez, Rodriguez (5) and Hernandez; Brooke Goldsmith, Taylor Wilson (3) and Regan Wollen. Highlights—Guerra (W) 2B; Rodriguez (W) 2x4, 2B; Hernandez (W) 3x4, 2B; Gonzalez (W) 2B; Lexy Pruneda (W) 2B.w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com