SELAH — Though it seemed destined when the bracket first dropped on Sunday, the speculation turned into reality as league rivals W.F. West and Tumwater handled their respective opponents to set up a District title rematch in the 2A State Softball Semifinals Saturday at 10 a.m. at Carlon Park in Selah.
Both took somewhat different routes to get there, however.
The Bearcats were hardly tested in their Friday first round and quarterfinal games, easing past Sequim before crushing No. 7 Olympic, 13-0 in five innings in the quarters.
Kamy Dacus shut down the Trojans, allowing just one hit and striking out seven. Savannah Hawkins blasted two home runs and four RBIs, and Saige Brindle added another homer and five RBIs.
It’s the Bearcats ninth straight trip to the state semifinals.
“We’re hitting the ball hard and hitting the ball well. Up and down the lineup kids are seeing solid contact and Kamy is just working her butt off,” Bearcats coach Caty Lieseke said. “It’s exactly what we wanted coming out of today.”
Though the Bearcats have a storied legacy at the state tournament, it’s been three years since a state tournament in Selah has been held.
Before W.F. West made the trip, Lieseke brought in former players to talk with the team and set those expectations heading into the big dance.
“They’ve really taken that to heart and know what it means to play at state and play at this level,” Lieseke said.
On the same side of the bracket, Tumwater demolished No. 11 North Kitsap, 18-0, before some late heroics helped the Thunderbirds upset No. 3 Lynden, 5-3, thanks to a walk-off blast from Jaylene Manriquez in the bottom of the seventh.
Tumwater held a lead through most of the game, but a three-run inning from the Lions in the sixth saw them take the lead. The T-Birds tied it up in the bottom of the inning, and after a shutdown inning from freshman Ella Ferguson, who struck out seven in the win, Manriquez hit the blast to punch the T-Birds ticket to the semis.
It’s the fifth time the Bearcats and Thunderbirds will have played this season, splitting the matchups 2-2 to this point.
“We’ve always played them well and always have played them close,” Lieseke said. “We step in knowing just a little bit more about ourselves and a little bit more about them.”
That game will be played at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Carlon Park.
In the losers bracket, Rochester has battled back from an opening round loss to Lynden to defeat No. 11 North Kitsap and No. 8 Port Angeles. The Warriors are still in contention for the third-place game after the last win, a 14-12 barnburner that saw the Warriors nearly blow a 10-run lead.
Rochester will play No. 13 Ellensburg in another loser-out contest at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Carlon Park. If the Warriors win, they’ll play the loser of Tumwater and W.F. West.