Nobody involved had ever seen anything like it.
Adna crushed three homers before recording a single out, knocked six balls out in the first three innings, built a nine-run lead — and wound up holding its breath as Pe Ell-Willapa Valley inched its way back in.
And in the final half-inning, the Pirates leaned on two-way star Karlee VonMoos to get the last out. The junior delivered, protecting a one-run lead in the seventh as Adna edged PWV 14-13 in the 2B District 4 softball tournament’s championship game.
“That was a 10-round heavyweight boxing match, right there,” Adna coach Bruce Pocklington said, adding that he’d never been in a game with that type of start. “And I almost got to a point where I said to (assistant coach Mike McDonald), ‘Hey, have you ever hit six home runs and lost?’”
PWV coach Ken Olson — longtime friends with Pocklington — had also never seen that type of start.
“No, absolutely not. That’s just unbelievable,” he said. “But I think if you keep your kids from giving up, that, to me — they showed a lot of heart. I think people walking out of here would think, you know what, that’s a pretty tough little team. They didn’t quit.”
The first inning alone was worth the price of admission. Adna’s Danika Hallom led the game off with a homer to left field. Kendall Humphrey then singled, setting up VonMoos’ two-run shot to left. Brooklyn Loose followed that with a homer to left, and after a strikeout Ava Simms went yard. Hallom added a sacrifice fly later in the first to spot the Pirates a 6-0 lead.
VonMoos finished 3 for 3 at the plate with two homers and four RBIs and tossed the final 2 ⅔ innings.
“I definitely didn’t expect us to put the hammer on them like we did coming out,” VonMoos said. “We kind of made some silly mistakes here and there, but we ended up pulling through, and that’s what counts.”
The Titans kept things close, getting an RBI single from Raegan Portmann and a two-run double from Dani Shannon in the bottom of the first to trail just 6-4. Adna’s offense, though, kept its blistering pace: Simms highlighted a three-run second inning with an RBI double, before VonMoos and Loose once again hit back-to-back homers in a five-run third.
By the end of the third the Pirates had a 14-5 lead and a five-inning win in their sights.
The Titans, though, never quite rolled over, scratching out runs and clawing their way back into the game. An error in the fourth brought in one run, and then Shannon homered to spark a five-run rally in the fifth inning that prompted the Pirates to bring VonMoos on to relieve freshman Ava Simms.
“(Ava) threw her butt off, and we got to the point where she’d probably thrown 120 pitches and she’s getting tired,” Pocklington said. “So we gave them a little different speed.”
Even after PWV’s most productive inning, though, the Pirates led 14-11. It took a pair of errors in the top of the sixth for the Titans to close things further and set up the final inning.
On the other side of the field, PWV pitcher Olivia Matlock had settled in. Matlock started in the circle, left after the fourth homer of the first inning, and returned with two runners on and one out in the fourth frame.
She was dominant in her second stint, facing just 12 batters over the final 3 2/3 innings and striking out eight with one walk and no hits. She struck out the side in the top of the seventh and led off the bottom of the inning with a first-pitch solo homer that cut the lead to 14-13.
VonMoos, though, didn’t allow another hit. She retired two batters, walked Shannon and then stranded her on first with a game-ending strikeout.
“It was just a tremendous, fun game to be around,” Olson said. “It wasn’t fun at the beginning for us, and it wasn’t fun for them as we started to peck away at them.”
Loose finished 3 for 5 for the Pirates, while Simms was 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs. Ashlee VonMoos was also 3 for 5 and Ali Davis went 2 for 4.
Matlock finished with nine strikeouts in four innings of work and went 2 for 4 at the plate. Shannon was 2 for 4 with three RBIs, and Lauren Matlock went 4 for 5 with a triple. Grace Huber added a 2-for-4 line with a double.
Both teams advance to the 2B state tournament in Yakima Friday and Saturday. The WIAA’s softball seeding committee meets early Sunday morning to determine the bracket for the 12-team tournament, though the two District 4 powerhouses have strong resumes — Adna (19-2) hasn’t lost to a 2B team this season, and PWV (17-4) hadn’t lost to a 2B team before Friday.
The two teams had been scheduled to play a pair of nonleague games during the regular season, though neither matchup happened due to rainouts. Saturday night’s three-hour district finale, in front of a packed crowd at Fort Borst Park, proved well worth the wait.
“We were all so excited to play,” VonMoos said. “None of us were really that nervous. We were just like, ‘Let’s go.’”