LACEY — Kamiakin softball coach Tim Bisson is wary of the word destiny, especially when it applies to sports teams.
But after the Braves won the Class 3A state championship for the second consecutive season Saturday at Regional Athletic Complex, he couldn’t think of a more appropriate word to fit the moment.
Kamiakin sealed the deal with a 12-7 victory over Prairie in the final, a game in which the Braves trailed 7-5 heading into the top of the seventh but rallied for seven runs to go ahead.
“It’s been incredible ride. If there ever was a concept of team, this is it. We brought extra girls to the tournament, and every single one of them produced something,” Bisson said. “We let it slip away in the sixth, but the girls rose to the challenge. It was something. They just refused to lose.”
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Jessica Edminster, a Braves senior, relieved Kate Austin in the fourth inning against Prairie and collected her second career varsity win. Her first came last Saturday, when Kamiakin topped Shadle Park in a loser-out game that clinched a state berth.
Talk about a big-game pitcher.
“I was definitely nervous, but you’ve just got to take it one pitch at a time,” Edminster said. “It helps a lot when you can trust your teammates that they can play good defense behind you.”
Over the course of four state tournament games, the Braves turned nine double plays, a rare feat considering the smaller dimensions of a softball field and the quickness of the game.
“That just doesn’t happen,” Bisson said. “We would get ourselves into a situation and just find our way out of it. The girls just believed they were going to win. It was just an incredible feeling.”
Edminster helped her own cause by driving in the go-ahead run with a single to center, scoring Carlie Richards for an 8-7 lead after Richards had tied the score with a two-run triple.
Melanie Oord and Emily Benson each went 4-for-5 in the final, and Sam Booth chipped in a two-run single during the big seventh-inning.“I remember looking up after me and Emily scored (on Richards’ triple). We both just jumped up and hugged each other and said, ‘We can do this,’ ” Oord said. “The dugout was so fired up with energy.”
Kamiakin 2, Meadowdale 1: The return of the Jedi came at the wrong time for the Meadowdale Mavericks.
Edminster — Jedi to her Kamiakin teammates — stepped into a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the seventh inning in the semifinal. The four-year varsity starter faced Meadowdale's Tiffany DeWayne, who had led off the game with a single.
But a day after Meadowdale got a walk-off three-run homer in the 10th to beat Enumclaw in the quarterfinals, the late heroics would not continue for the Mavericks of Lynnwood.
DeWayne leaned over the plate and swung on a 2-2 pitch.
Nothing but air.
With that, the defending state champion Braves were heading back to the title game. They would face Prairie, which got a walk-off single to beat University of Spokane Valley 10-9 in the other semifinal at the Regional Athletic Complex.
The Braves survived a seventh-inning nail-biter in their state opener against Kelso, and they did it again in the semifinal contest against Meadowdale (24-3).
Kamiakin starting pitcher Kate Austin retired the first two Mavericks batters, but the final out came later than the Braves wanted.After giving up a single to Julia Reuble, Austin dug herself deeper when she walked Ciarra Hart on four consecutive balls. Then she was out and Edminster was in after a pitch to Samantha Gregoryk skimmed the batter's head.
"I was nervous because of the pressure on me," Austin said. "If I made a mistake, it would be more pressure on my back."
After shaking off the rust late in the Mid-Columbia Conference season, Edminster went six innings last weekend in a District 5/8 regional winner-to-state, loser-out contest against Shadle Park.
When she came in against Meadowdale, Edminster focused on each pitch — and not on the three Mavericks itching to run home.
"We've been in situations like that before," Edminster said. "Everyone on the team's had a lot of experience, so we just do what we need to do and try to get it done."
Edminster was one of many Braves who came up big in Saturday's semifinal game. Catcher Tawny Becker tied the score in the third on a solo shot over the center-field wall. Melanie Oord had two hits off Meadowdale's Alyssa Reuble and scored what would be the winning run in the fourth on Carlie Richards' sacrifice fly.
But the moment was especially sweet for Edminster, who went to state all four years and was a part of the program's first championship last season.
"She's just one of the best kids our program has ever had," first-year Kamiakin coach Tim Bisson said. "She epitomizes everything we try to do to be a Kamiakin Brave."
Edminster had no hits, but her impact was felt on defense, especially when she made a diving catch in center field to cap a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
It was one of several defensive highlights for the Braves. In the fourth, Austin tried to snatch a hard shot above her head, but the ball glanced off her glove, and shortstop Cylie Richards was there at second to get the runner and throw to first baseman Sam Booth for the double play.
Kamiakin 001 100 0 — 2 4 1
Meadowdale 100 000 0 — 1 4 0
Kate Austin, Jessica Edminster (7) and Tawny Becker; Alyssa Reuble and Rebecca Wright. Highlights — Becker (K) 2x2, 2B, HR; Melanie Oord (K) 2x3, 2B, R, SB; Tiffany DeWayne (M) 1x3, R.
Kamiakin 102 011 7 — 12 17 4
Prairie 001 105 0 — 7 8 1
Kate Austin, Edminster (4) and Becker; McGuire and Blechschmidt. Highlights — Hunter Schneitter (K) 2x4, 2B, 2R, RBI; Oord (K) 4x5, 2R, 2 RBI; Emily Benson (K) 4x5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI; Carlie Richards (K) 2x5, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI, SB; Cylie Richards (K) 2x3, 2R; Sam Booth (K) R, 2 RBI; O’Haver (P) 3x5, R, 2 RBI; Bussey (P) 2x4, R, 4 RBI.