YAKIMA — It’s been awhile since Adna has been shut out in any capacity on a softball field. Saturday afternoon in the 2B state title game, just a week removed from a 14-13 loss to these same Pirates in the District 4 title game, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley shut out the No. 1 seed and defending champions, 11-0.
A week removed from giving up four home runs in the first six at-bats of a barnburner district title tilt, Titan pitcher Olivia Matlock gave up just two hits and held the Pirates off the scoreboard.
It’s PWV’s first state championship since 2017, and sends coach Ken Olson into retirement on the highest possible note.
“It's a big deal,” Olson said. “I’m normally not this way but I’m at a loss for words. The kids played hard, they were composed, they didn’t let the moment be bigger than it needed to be.”
The Titans got after the Pirates early, plating three runs in the top of the first and adding seven in the fourth. Matlock added a solo home run in the fifth to stretch the lead to 11 heading into the final half of the inning, before shutting them down to preserve the win.
PWV racked up 14 hits against Adna’s Karlee VonMoos and Ava Simms, and looked in control throughout. Dani Shannon went 3 for 4 with a run scored and three RBIs, Ava Bush added two RBIs, and Merissa Frasier scored two runs and got the party started in the first inning with a single.
But, like it has all season, it all started in the circle with Matlock.
When Olson and his staff were debating who they wanted to throw first in the title game, Olson knew he couldn’t overthink it.
“She’s carried us for four years, she deserves the right to be in the circle,” he said. “She had some trouble last time and she’d be the first one to admit it. She came out and let that stuff go away, and it really did. It was tough on her.
“You have to ride the horse. She is a horse. It’s hard to take the ball out of her hands.”
Matlock pitched a complete five innings, with just two hits, no runs, two walks, and no strikeouts. Adna managed just four baserunners against the ace in five innings after six home runs and 14 runs in the district title last Saturday.
You wouldn’t have been able to tell Saturday that Matlock had a tough outing last weekend, as the St. Martin’s-bound pitcher mowed down Pirates with precision and confidence all afternoon.
“It makes me really happy,” she said. “My freshman year we were in the exact same position and we didn’t get it. This year we felt like we needed to. It was a perfect way to go out.”
Aside from a VonMoos and Brooklyn Loose single, the Pirates couldn’t get much going. Even in the circle, where VonMoos and Simms had been stellar all year, the pitching pair ran into trouble, giving up 14 hits and letting the lead escalate to 10 runs after the fourth inning.
“Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug, well today we were the bug,” Pirates coach Bruce Pocklington said. “I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but our bats didn’t show up, and our bats have shown up all year. That’s a good pitcher, we have to hit line drives and ground balls and we didn’t do that today. We didn’t get those hits when we needed them.”
Still, Pocklington quickly pointed out that a league and district crown are things to celebrate. And though the Pirates lost their first two matchups to 4A and 3A squads this season, they won 20 games in a row and rolled through league and district play.
There is plenty to celebrate for the Pirates this year.
“We have a lot of good girls,” Pocklington said. “I don’t know why, but they’d run through a wall for me. They’re really good girls that work their butts off. There’s a lot of tears, and they need to have those tears to see what they need to work on so we can use this to get better.”
And what better way to send off long-time high school ball coach Olson, who announced his retirement weeks before the district tournament, and will leave PWV with two state title rings after the Titans latest run.
His longtime friend, Pocklington, who has worked with Olson and coached several of his family members and vice versa, said he would not miss coaching against the Southwest Washington softball legend.
“He’s a great guy and he does a great job,” Pocklington said. “He crosses his T’s and dots his I’s very well. Will he be missed by me? No. I will not miss coaching against him because he’s a great coach. He’s a great guy and he’s put a great program together wherever he’s been, and he’ll always be a great friend.”
With tears welling up in his eyes, holding the bracket that the Titans ran through all weekend in Yakima, not allowing a single run and dominating every matchup they played in, Olson said he could not have dreamed up a better end to his time as PWV’s fastpitch coach.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “They got me what I wanted.”