After junior Jaeden Ells kept Yelm’s state title hopes alive with her two-out seventh inning inside-the-park home run to best the Wildcats in the semis, it seemed as if the Tornados were destined to overcome any obstacle.
Redmond, however, proved to be Yelm’s lone version of Kryptonite this season.
Sophomore Kiki Milloy led off the game with the first of two home runs as the Mustangs spoiled the Tornados perfect season with a 9-5 victory in the state championship game at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
Yelm, which had been ranked first in state for most of the year, ends its spectacular season with a record of 28-1, one win shy of capturing its first state title since 2004.
Before the loss to Redmond, the Tornados pieced together one of the greatest years in school history. Yelm claimed the inaugural 3A South Sound Conference championship and defeated Bonney Lake, which would finish fourth at the state tournament, 1-0, to take the district crown
Among the team’s victories this year was a thrilling 2-1 triumph over W.F. West, which went on to win the 2A championship and a 6-2 win over 4A state runner-up Puyallup.
The streaking Mustangs (25-4) were simply too much for any team to handle in the tournament. Redmond, co-champions of the 3A KingCo, defeated Gig Harbor (6-1) in the first round, Edmonds-Woodway (10-0) in the quarterfinals before hammering Bonney Lake, 7-1, in the semifinals.
Yelm should once again be a contender next season as they will graduate just two seniors from this year’s roster, albeit two vital pieces to the Tornados success in Ally Choate, a two-time league MVP who will play at Seattle University next year, and Carley Nelson, a first team all-league selection at first base whose home run in Yelm’s opening round victory at state over Juanita sparked a comeback.
Coach Lindsay Walton, however, will welcome back SSC pitcher of the year Drea Schwaier, first-team honorees MacKinzee Moore (middle infield) and Ells (utility), second team all-league members Tayelyn Cutler (pitcher) and Taylor Gubser (catcher) and Hailey Brown, who received honorable mention accolades as a pitcher.
The Tornados trek towards the state championship game got off to a shaky start as they found themselves trailing in the first round to Juanita early on before Nelson bashed a two-run shot to tie the contest in the fifth inning.
A two-run single from Moore highlighted a three-run sixth for Yelm, which went to defeat the Rebels, 6-5.
Things were far less dramatic in a 7-1 victory over Holy Names in the quarterfinals as the Tornados pushed six runs across in the fifth inning.
It was more than enough offense for Yelm as Schwaier, who has committed to Whitworth University, was in full command, striking out 15 Wildcats and giving up just two hits to power the Tornados into the state semifinals for a second consecutive year.
Schwaier also had two hits against Holy Names, while Yelm also received multiple hits from Choate, Cutler, Moore and Sage Ferrell in the victory.
Against Mount Spokane, champions of the 3A Greater Spokane League, the Tornados surrendered two runs in the first inning and trailed throughout the contest until the bottom of the seventh when Choate, who also scored in the third to cut the deficit in half at 2-1, kicked things off with a one-out triple, setting up Ells for her heroic hit.
The Mustangs would put an end to the perfect season two hours later.
Redmond led 3-0 in the title game before a Brown single drove in a pair of runs in the third to pull the Tornados within a run.
It proved to be a costly inning for Yelm, however, as Schwaier fall to the turf during her at bat, suffering an injury to her right hand which caused her to be removed from the game.
The Redmond lead ballooned to 8-2 midway through the sixth. An Ells single drove in Choate and Moore, and a Cutler RBI made it an 8-5 game heading into the final frame. Milloy’s second home run closed out the scoring and sealed the Mustangs championship.
The second place gave the Tornados their first state trophy since 2004 when they defeated Mount Si, 1-0, in the championship game.
Choate and Nelson leave the program after helping Yelm to three consecutive trips to the state tournament. Prior to their arrival the Tornados made just one prior trip.