At last month’s CWAC district softball tournament, Othello High School coach Rudy Ochoa decided to start junior right-hander Dominique Martinez in the first game and her cousin, senior righty Madison Martinez, in the second. But when Madison developed a blister on one of her fingers, Ochoa gave the ball back to Dominique.
She held off Ellensburg over the final two innings to help Othello claim the district title and the No. 1 seed to the Class 2A state tournament.
The next weekend at state, Ochoa was set to platoon the Martinez girls again. Dominique started the first-round game against Sequim at Carlon Park in Selah.
Once again, the plans changed.
After she went the distance and struck out 10 in an 11-3 win over Sequim, Dominique stayed in the circle. She pitched every inning against Port Angeles in the quarterfinals, R.A. Long in the semifinals and Fife in the title game.
At the end of the tournament, the Huskies (24-2) celebrated their fourth state championship.
“I surprised myself a little bit,” said Martinez, the Tri-City Herald All-Area softball player of the year. “That second day killed me. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I’ve never been so sore in my life. But to me, it was like, ‘It’s now or never.’ ”
In the 3-1 victory over Fife, Martinez struck out four and gave up two hits. Her performance helped the Huskies overcome Trojans ace Anna Kasner, who recorded 62 strikeouts at state — 10 of them against Othello.
“I was talking to myself every other pitch,” Martinez said. “I kept telling myself: ‘It’s just another game, relax. One more pitch, one more out to end the inning and go in and hit.’ I would always try to find my dad in the crowd. He calms me down when I look at him. He’ll nod his head and be like, ‘You got this.’ And then I would be like, ‘Whew, I got this.’ ”
Another source of support was her cousin, who was playing third base: “Every inning or every time I’d go through a rough patch, like pitch two straight balls, I would hear her say: ‘You got this. This is your game.’ ”
In the four state games, Martinez, the CWAC player of the year, allowed seven runs while striking out 25 and allowing 20 hits.
She finished the season with a 1.88 ERA and a 15-2 record, including one perfect game. In 96 2/3 innings, she struck out 139 batters.
At the plate, the University of Hawaii commit batted .554 (46-for-83) with 39 RBIs, 49 runs scored and eight home runs.
But the pitcher/second baseman, who plays club softball for the Washington Angels 18 Gold team, grew in a way that can’t be quantified on a stat sheet.
“She had more confidence this year than she had last year,” said Ochoa, the All-Area coach of the year. “Even though she did an excellent job last year, too, that confidence part was just up there a little bit more, and everybody rallied around.
“If you’re playing on a team, you can tell when somebody’s got that confidence and that air about them that they can take you all the way, and that’s just the air she had.”
After finishing second at state in 2014 and third in 2013 and 2015, the Huskies were on a mission this spring. They geared up for their state run by winning the CWAC regular-season title outright with a 17-1 record and then beating East Valley and Ellensburg in the district tournament.
“This year was my third year going to state,” Martinez said. “This year, the seniors were really on us about it. We had this saying, ‘BTBR’ — ‘big team, big ring’ — so at the beginning, that was our goal. We’re gonna take state. ... There were practices where we were all arguing and we were frustrated with each other because of the little errors we made. We were like: ‘If we want to be state champs, we can’t do this. We have to be better than this.’ ”
Dominique Martinez is joined on the Herald All-Area first team by Madison Martinez (utility). The Campbell University (N.C.) signee went 9-0 in her final season at Othello.
Richland, which bounced back from a first-round loss to take third at the Class 4A state tournament in Spokane, had six first-teamers: first baseman Emily Garza; second baseman Miranda Camacho; third baseman Stephanie Merwin, who has signed to play at Oregon State University; catcher Paige Liikala, who is set to play for Central Washington University; outfielder Kelsea Hinkley; and pitcher Brandi Andrews.
Walla Walla pitcher Brandi Schoessler, shortstop Faith Hoe, and outfielders Lauren Hoe and Josie Sweet round out the first team. The quartet helped lead the Blue Devils to a share of the Mid-Columbia Conference regular-season title with Richland, as well as the 4A district championship.
2016 Herald All-Area Softball Teams
MVP—Dominique Martinez, jr., P, Othello. Coach of the Year—Rudy Ochoa, Othello.
1B—Emily Garza, fr., Richland. 2B—Miranda Camacho, so., Richland. 3B—Stephanie Merwin, sr., Richland. SS—Faith Hoe, so., Walla Walla. C—Paige Liikala, sr., Richland. OF—Kelsea Hinkley, sr., Richland; Lauren Hoe, so., Walla Walla; Josie Sweet, jr., Walla Walla. P—Brandi Andrews, so., Richland; Dominique Martinez, jr., Othello; Brandi Schoessler, sr., Walla Walla. UTL—Madison Martinez, sr., Othello.
1B—Melody Bush, jr., Liberty Christian. 2B—Momo Calzadillas, sr., Kiona-Benton. 3B—MoniQue Maldonado, sr., Chiawana. SS—Brittney Yocom, jr., Southridge. C—Mikaela Forcum, so., Walla Walla. OF—Diamond Franco, sr., Othello; Madison Matthews, so., Kamiakin; Emma Sweet, jr., Walla Walla. P—Kamryn Coleman, so., Walla Walla; Kaylee Brown, jr., DeSales; Cierra Jo McKeown, sr., Touchet. UTL—Tara Krivoshein, jr., Walla Walla.
Best of the rest
Emily Thornton, sr., SS, Kiona-Benton; Kirsten Quigley, sr., SS, Othello; Natalie Giroux, sr., SS, Richland; AyJay Mulholland, jr., OF, Kamiakin; Maddy Thomas, so., C/INF, DeSales; Mariah DeLeon, jr., C, Othello; Bella Loera, sr., SS, Liberty Christian; Katie Steele, so., C, Liberty Christian; Danika Whitsett, sr., P, Tri-Cities Prep; Maddie Brandner, so., SS, Tri-Cities Prep; Lidize DeLeon, sr., OF, Othello; Becka Harrington, jr., SS, Connell.