YAKIMA — For the last two weeks, at least, the Toledo softball team has been on a joyride, narrowly evading disaster at every turn and laughing their way to the final day of the season at the 2B softball state tournament.
That ride ended one game earlier than the Riverhawks would have liked when they first shoved a screwdriver in the ignition of a playoff run that looked destined for the scrap heap after the first day of Districts. Toledo came out Saturday and extended their run by a few hours with a 5-2 win over Warden before watching it all crash and burn in a season ending 12-5 loss to Colfax.
“We booted the ball around a little bit but we never quit,” Toledo coach Jeff Davis said. “One of the things that I liked about this team, and it was true all season, is they never got on each other.”
Toledo started out their Saturday at the park in sterling fashion, turning in a spotless performance against Warden to come within one win of a trophy game. In the first inning the Cougars threatened with the bases loaded and no outs but left handed shortstop Brynn Williams flashed some leather and flipped the ball to Greenlee Clark at second base to start a 6-4-3 double play that took most of the gas out of Warden’s early charge. The next batter sent a flare out toward left field and Vanesa Rodriguez ranged all the way into foul territory to snare it on the fly for the final out, leaving the Cougars with just one run to show for all their initial promise.
“Even though (Williams is) left handed she can square up and throw that ball over there and turn two,” Davis said. “Vanesa Rodriguez, she’s a center fielder and she hurt her arm but she didn’t want to quit so we compromised and put her out in left and I thought she did a phenomenal job out there.”
In the bottom of the first Williams stroked a triple to get the Riverhawks bats on par with their gloves. She wound up touching the dish following a single by Mialeigh Jurica and Toledo would never trail again, putting up one run in the second and three more in the sixth after the Cougars tied the game up at 2-2 in the top of the sixth.
Jurica finished that game with three hits, a run scored and a run batted in. Marcil singled to lead off the decisive sixth inning and Averie Robins added two hits.
Bethany Bowen picked up the win in the circle for Toledo, striking out three batters while scattering eight hits and allowing just two runs.
That win set Toledo up with Colfax in a contest to determine one spot in the third place game. After playing their best in so many loser-out games over the final weeks of the season it looked like the Riverhawks were finally running on fumes as uncharacteristic errors ruined any shot they had at out-slugging the Bulldogs.
“We’ve had a lot of clean games but we had some errors in this game and sometimes we can overcome them but we had a good tournament I thought,” Davis said. “I was really proud of the way they battled the whole time, even in the district tournament, all of the games we won were loser-out games.”
Colfax hung three runs on the board in the first inning and scored in every frame except the fourth on its way to the seven-run win. Bowen had more success missing bats with two strikes than she did earlier in the day but walks and miscues behind her put the Riverhawks on a collision course with the end. Bowen finished the game with five strikeouts while allowing seven hits, six walks and nine earned runs.
Trailing 5-0 in the fifth inning it was Abbie Marcil who finally broke the goose egg for Toledo with a two-run home run.
But the Bulldogs answered back with three more runs in the bottom of the inning to erase any of the good time feelings for Toledo. The Riverhawks put up three more runs in the sixth, but Colfax clapped back with a three spot of their own to put Toledo back in the ditch.
Greenlee Clark went 3-for-4 at the plate as she continued her torrid trip through the playoffs.
“She was phenomenal in the whole postseason,” Davis said. “She’s been a leader all year and having a bulldog mentality while really asking a lot out of her teammates.”
Marcil finished with two hits and three RBIs. Williams added a double with two RBIs and a run scored. Candace Clark, Averie Robins, Quyn Norberg and Vanesa Rodriguez all added hits in Toledo’s ill-fated comeback attempt.
The loss brings to a close a season that began with a new coach and so much uncertainty and ended with all the confidence of Thelma and Louise before sailing off the cliff.
‘We have a tough league and a tough district but we’ve got to figure out how to beat the Adnas and the Pe Ells,” Davis said. “With the seniors we’re going to lose, it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be big holes to fill. The good news is we have Bethany coming back and pitching, and Abbie catching.. We’re looking real good with the returners coming back.”