The Richland and Kamiakin softball teams, the Mid-Columbia Conference’s only remaining undefeated teams, were both looking for a doubleheader sweep Friday at Columbia Playfields in Richland.
Neither got what they wanted, instaed getting what they needed by splitting a high-scoring twinbill that featured 48 hits, 40 runs and 16 extra base hits, including nine home runs.
The Bombers’ 11-8 win in Game 1 allowed them to clinch at least a share of their fourth consecutive league title and ninth under coach Casey Emery.
“I told our team we’re the league champs, we’re the No. 1 seed to districts and we’ve already qualified for regionals. We’re in good shape,” said Emery, who credited assistant coaches Roger Fish, Brent Andrews and Mike Fowler for the team’s impressive string of championships. Of course, none of it, he said, would be possible without the program’s talent.
“We’ve had unbelievable players come through Richland,” Emery said.
The Braves (13-2 overall, 11-1 MCC), the two-time defending Class 3A state champions, rolled to a 17-4 win in Game 2 that put them in position to share the MCC title. To complete that mission, Kamiakin will have to sweep Southridge in its final league doubleheader at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick.
“It’s important for us to realize we can play with the the better teams in the state,” Kamiakin coach Tim Bisson said. “We had a couple of errors in Game 1. It’s really important for us to continue progressing. This was a really good team effort.”
Game 1 was everything the fans and the television crews were anticipating. The game featured six home runs and five lead changes, which made things exciting — maybe a little too exciting — for the pitchers.
“It was pretty fun. I like winning like that. Lately our games have been a little bit ... yeah, I don’t know how to explain it,” Andrews said. “I like having competition. We get to experience it before the playoffs, which is a bonus.”
If her performance was any indication, Andrews is definitely ready for the playoffs. The 6-foot senior recorded eight strikeouts in the circle and went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.
She was at her best when it counted, too. After Kamiakin put up three runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut it to 9-8, Andrews put on her game face for the final inning, setting down the side in order to complete the win.
“I struck out to end the sixth, which kind of made me angry,” she said. “I was thinking, we need this win.”
After the Bombers (18-2, 13-1) took the opener, Kamiakin certainly needed a win in the nightcap. The Braves turned Game 2 into an offensive clinic, jumping on starter Abby Perryman for 12 runs in the first two innings as Richland fell into a virtually insurmountable hole early.
“We can hit the ball a little bit,” Bisson said.
Emily Benson led the hit parade in the Bombers’ largest loss of the year, going 4-for-4 with a double, a home run, three runs scored and six RBIs. After driving in Kamiakin’s first run with an RBI double in the first, she sent a 2-2 pitch from Perryman screaming over the fence in center field for a three-run home run to give the Braves a 7-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
“It definitely felt good to come out hitting right away. We knew we’d have to hit the ball hard in order to do well against them,” Benson said. “This year, I’ve just been trying to help my team out. I’m a senior this year, so I want to leave something behind.”
Melanie Oord and Carlie Richards had big days for Kamiakin. Oord, a senior third baseman, had four hits, including three doubles, a home run and four RBIs. Richards homered in both games and drove in five runs.
April Utecht led the Bombers, going 4-for-7 on the day with a home run.
Kamiakin 203 003 0 — 8 11 3
Richland 213 032 x — 11 12 1
Kayla Andrews and April Utecht; Cassie Ramsey, Kaitlin Austin (5), Emiley Moore (6) and Carlie Richards, Tawny Becker (5). Highlights—Melanie Oord (K) 2x4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI; Emily Benson (K) 2x4, 2R; Car.Richards (K) 2x4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI; Cylie Richards (K) 2x3, HR, 2 RBI; Jenna Castilleja (K) SB, RBI; Stephanie Merwin (R) HR, 2 RBI; Utecht (R) 2x4, HR, RBI; Andrews (R) 2x4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 8 Ks; Paige Liikala (R) 2R, 2 RBI; Kelsey Hinkley (R) SB, 2R.
Kamiakin 480 500 0 — 17 16 0
Richland 001 120 0 — 4 9 3
Moore, Austin (5) and Becker; Abby Perryman, Cassidy Rowe (3), Perryman (4) and Liikala, Utecht (3), Liikala (4). Highlights—Hunter Schneitter (K) 2x3, 3R; Oord (K) 2 2B, 3R, RBI; Benson (K) 4x4, 2B, HR, 3R, 6 RBI; Car.Richards (K) HR, 2R, 3 RBI; McKenzie Lowery (K) 2x4, 3B, 2R, RBI; Samantha Booth (K) 2x4, 2 RBI; Becker (K) HR, 2 RBI; Perryman (R) 2x4, RBI; Utecht (R) 2x3, R; Andrews (R) RBI, R; Liikala (R) 2B, RBI; Reilly Bramlett (R) SB; Hailey Watkins (R) RBI.