Thurston County had two schools advance to the state high school fastpitch tournament this year. Both programs brought home trophies.
Yelm continued to cement its status as one of the top programs in the state after posting its third consecutive top three state finish by placing second in the Class 3A state tournament, while Tumwater, under second-year coach Ashley Andrews, collected some hardware for the first time since 2012 after the Thunderbirds finished fourth at the Class 2A state tournament.
“At the end of the year, you always have tears for many different reasons,” Andrews said, “but I truly believe our tears were because we bought in to each other, we fell in love with competing together every day, and it hurts when something you love comes to an end. This group of girls will always have a special place in my heart.”
The Tornados, who advanced to their second 3A state title game in the last three years, fell to Garfield, in the championship round, 10-4, at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey on May 25. Lindsay Walton’s squad finished the year 21-6.
Tumwater showed plenty of grit and determination by winning four straight loser-out contests to claim fourth at Carlon Park in Selah.
In the 3A title game, Garfield (26-2) used a backbreaking five-run fourth inning to put away the Tornados. Yelm was able to cut the deficit to 7-4 after pushing a run in the fifth and adding two runs in the sixth, but the Bulldogs countered with three runs in the bottom half of the sixth to put the game away.
Tayelyn Cutler struck out 9 in 4 innings for the Tornados. Hailey Brown paced Yelm’s offense, going 3 for 4 with 3 RBI.
Yelm advanced to the title game following a dramatic 3-1 win over Mountain View (24-4) in the semifinals. Cutler picked up the victory, pitching a complete game and fanning 11 batters.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh, junior Cydney Jarvis pushed the Tornados ahead for good with a game-winning three-run home run.
The Tornados kicked off their run toward the state title game by blanking Southridge, 7-0, in the first round. Cutler threw a no-hitter, striking out 14. The senior also added a home run, while teammate Calli Jesmer hit two homers against the Suns (15-10).
Yelm closed out the first day of the state tournament with an 8-1 win over Lake Washington (17-8) in the quarterfinals.
Tumwater opened the 2A state tournament with a 7-6 loss to Sehome in the first round.
After the defeat, the T-Birds rallied and proceeded to win four consecutive loser-out games, beginning with a 6-3 win over Sequim.
“When you have a group of girls who sincerely care more about the success of the team than their individual success, it allows the team to have a short-term memory, come together, and play fearlessly,” Andrews said. “After our loss to Sehome we said, ‘Well, someone has to come out of the loser’s bracket, why not us?’”
Tumwater followed with a 13-3 thumping of Ephrata before besting Eatonville, 9-4. Katie Cunningham went deep twice against the Cruiser, while Savannah Owen registered nine Ks.
“After we beat Eatonville on Saturday morning, and finished shaking hands with them, we huddled up and I said, ‘Guess what? We get another shot at Sehome,’” Andrews said. “The roar of the girls in that huddle was just as loud as it had been all tournament. They were hungry to return the favor and hand them a loss.”
The T-Birds were able to exact some revenge against Sehome (18-6) in the rematch as Tumwater ended the Mariners’ season with an 8-6 win.
Myiah Seaton, who was sensational at the plate all tournament, smacked two homers and drove in three runs. Tumwater also received two hits and 3 RBI from Owen, a home run from Ashley May and a run-scoring double from Nikole Schock in the win over Sehome.
The victory sent Tumwater into the placing round where they fell, 8-2, to Ridgefield, 22-6.
Ridgefield led 3-1 after the first inning and 7-1 through three innings. Owen, who struck out one batter and gave 7 hits in 7 innings of work, went 2-for-4 at the plate, while Seaton delivered a first-inning home run for the T-Birds in the loss.
Tumwater finished the season 22-7. In addition to their losses to Ridgefield and Sehome at the state tournament, the T-Birds’ other defeats came to 2A state champion Woodland, 1A state champion Montesano, 3A state runner-up Yelm, and 2A state runner-up W.F. West, which knocked off Tumwater twice during the regular season.
The fourth-place finish marks the highest placing for Tumwater since 2012 when T-Birds finished second, losing to W.f. West 15-3 finals.
Tumwater graduates seven seniors – Trinity Berrow, Cunningham, Lydia Glasgo, Ellaney Jelcick, Schock, Seaton, and Sawyer Vessey.
“The seven seniors changed the atmosphere, the expectations and the passion for Tumwater fastpitch. I challenged them pretty hard at the beginning of the year to make some difficult changes (about) how they treated each other,” Andrews said. “I wanted them to understand the magic of coming together, selflessly, and loving each other for their unique strengths, while competing with each other every day. These seniors bought in to this and truly changed the face of Tumwater fastpitch. Now it’s the underclassmen’s job to adopt this legacy and make it their own every year.”