You can consider it the greatest day in the history of Tumwater High School sports. The Thunderbirds have won several state championships in a variety of sports over the years, but never three on the same day.
But that’s exactly what happen on May 28 as Tumwater’s baseball, fastpitch and girls’ track and field programs all captured 2A state crowns.
“What a day for Tumwater High School,” said fastpitch coach Ashley Andrews said. “It’s just amazing.”
That it was and it all started with the T-Birds’ fastpitch squad kicking off the impressive title trifecta by knocking off No. 1 Othello, 13-3, in the championship game of the 2A tournament at Carlon Park in Selah to conclude their season with a 22-2 record.
Freshman Jaime Haase opened the game with a three-run homerun in the first inning to set what would be the tone for the T-Birds’ bat throughout the contest. Freshman Ella Ferguson, Tumwater’s ace who also pitched a complete game to pick up the win, added a three-run homer of her own in the fifth.
The T-Birds also received a pair of homeruns from senior short stop Aly Waltermeyer, who led off two out the four state playoff games by going yard.
“She either led off a game with a homerun or a double,” Andrews said about Waltermeyer’s first inning hitting prowess. “She really set the tone for us all season. Teams need a sparkplug and she’s the best sparkplug you can ask for.”
Tumwater, which entered the state tournament as the No. 6 seed, pushed four runners across in the sixth inning to 10-run the top-seeded Huskies, which had outscored its previous three state opponents a combined 29-4 and entered the championship showdown with a 24-1 record.
The T-Birds had been regarded as the class of the 2A throughout much of the regular season and district play before stumbling in the district title game against W.F. West. Despite the strong resume, Tumwater was still slotted below five other programs when seeds were handed out for the state tournament.
“The team didn’t dwell on it, but as their coach I found it extremely disrespectful,” Andrews said about receiving the sixth seed. “We talked about it as a team [before state]. I told them no one expects anything out of us, but we’re good enough to win a state title. We just had to go out there and prove it.”
Tumwater demolished North Kitsap, 18-0, in the opening round before besting No. 3 Lynden, 5-3, in the quarterfinals with Jaylene Manriquez playing the role of hero after the senior’s two-run walk-off homer in the seventh.
Up next in the state semifinals was familiar foe W.F. West. The two 2A Evergreen Conference rivals split their four previous meetings this season with the most recent bragging rights belonging to the Bearcats following their 4-2 win in the district championship.
“To lose that game it was sour, but we knew we would see them again,” Andrews said. “After that loss we really talked about focusing not only on the physical aspects of the game, but more on the mental part of it. The next practice was all about being unified as a team.”
The T-Birds triumphed in the fifth meeting, avenging the district loss by knocking off W.F. West, 5-3, in the semifinals to win the season series, 3-2, and send Tumwater back to the state title game for the first time since 2012.
“I think after we beat W.F. West our confidence soared and we knew we could do this. “Andrews said. “W.F. West is a program we respect immensely. Knowing that we were able to overcome so much both physically and mentally in that game, I felt like it didn’t matter who we were playing in the championship game. The team was so focused.”
The state title win was the third for the program and the first since 2006 when a then-sophomore Andrews helped the T-Birds defeat North Mason, 1-0, in the championship game.
“It really is special,” said Andrews about winning state titles both as a player and a coach at Tumwater. “I love the Tumwater community. It really is a special place that I am so proud to be a part of. We have so much support here. I was looking at the picture from the 2006 team and the one from this year’s team. I’ve been really emotional the last few days just reflecting on everything. We had alumni come to the [title game]. Former teammates were texting me. It’s just been really humbling and I feel extremely blessed to be here.”
Waltermeyer, one of five seniors on the team, paced the T-Birds offense at state, batting .667 with three homeruns and 6 RBI. Tumwater also received big offensive performances from Haase (.500 BA/3 HR/10 RBI), senior Scout Abbott (.467/5 RBI) and Manriquez, who drove in four runs and scored five times, while Ferguson went 4-0, striking out 29 with a 1.6 ERA.
“This group of seniors has such a special place in my heart,” said Andrews, whose team followed up their state title win by making the short trip to Yakima to cheer on the Tumwater baseball program during its 1-0 win over Columbia River in the state championship game. “They definitely left the program better than they found it.”