MONTESANO — The plan was four months in the making and one couldn’t have asked for much more.
Yes, it was cloudy. Yes, there was an occasional light drizzle. But none of that mattered. For the first time this year, girls from six high school teams, across three different counties, played in a softball game.
Twenty-two seniors from Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, Adna, Montesano, Forks, Hoquiam and Elma split up into two teams and played in a senior all-star game Wednesday in Montesano on a newly-christened, state-of-the-art turf field.
The event was the brainchild of Montesano softball coach Pat Pace. It all started back in March, about a week after spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pace group-texted the coaches from the five other schools and asked if they’d be interested in having a senior all-star game. Every coach responded with an emphatic yes within five minutes.
Then the wait began for Grays Harbor to enter phase three of the state’s ‘Safe Start’ reopening plan which allows sporting events. Grays Harbor was approved for phase 3 on June 19, which set up the July 1 game.
Playing for PWV were Katie Adkins, Katelyn McGough, Britney Patrick, Presley Peterson and Jeorgi Ritzman. Adna’s lone senior present was Skye Snow, who came in for relief of Adkins, the starting pitcher for the home, and threw the final four innings.
“It was really bittersweet,” Snow said. “All of us haven’t been on the field, so it was nice to get all of us back together and play. We all did better than I thought we were going to, considering we haven’t played in four months.”
Snow, who has signed to play at Saint Martin’s University, was happy to be able to put on her Adna jersey one final time.
“It’s sad that I have to give it back now,” Snow said.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley coach Ken Olson was one of the away team coaches, while Adna coach Bruce Pocklington was one of the home team coaches. Olson nearly teared up afterwards while realizing this was the last time he’ll get to coach five of his players.
“It’ll probably be the last time I’ll see them together,” Olson said. “I told them, ‘I’ve got to shut up or I’m going to get emotional here. I’ve had those guys for four years. Just to be on the field one more time with my players is pretty special.”
The Titans had just 12 days together practicing as a team this spring before the season was canceled, which made having this all-star game that much sweeter, Olson said.
“Saw some good balls hit today, from both teams,” Olson said. “And the pitchers threw well for not throwing at live batters for a while, so that was good to see. It’s always good to go up against Bruce.”
The game, which the away team won 11-6, was a mix of competitiveness and carefree fun. None of the girls had played in a live game in at least four months, and some it’s been nearly a year. Twelve of the 22 girls will be playing for eight different colleges this fall.
Only parents and personnel were allowed within the gates of the park. Most spectators were lined up along the foul-line fences in camping chairs or standing. Parents of the players had their own assigned seating in the bleachers spaced 6 feet apart, and all the players wore face masks in the dugout.
PWV senior Katelyn McGough, who played centerfield for the home team, competed in a live game for the first time in over a year. She suffered an injury last summer and wasn’t able to play travel ball. The last game she played in before Wednesday was the state championship match last March against Adna. Was there any rust after not playing for so long?
“Oh my gosh, yes,’ McGough said. “Oh my gosh, yes. It was rough. I haven’t hit live in so long. Didn’t strike out, so that’s the good thing.”
McGough, who signed to play at Lower Columbia College this fall, was just grateful to be able to wear her Titans jersey and play with her teammates one final time together.
“I’m really happy we got this opportunity,” McGough said. “It was fun being able to play with my friends and some of the other girls that I didn’t know, and make new friends.”