LONG BEACH - Mr. Hyde changed back to Dr. Jekyll and not a moment too soon as Ilwaco edged Winlock 7-6 Monday to qualify for the District IV tournament beginning Tuesday. A two-out single by Aimee Banuet scored Sydney Ward, who had also singled in the top of the seventh inning, and the Lady Fishermen gloves then shut down the Lady Cardinals in the bottom half to snap a nine-game losing streak.
"The softball gods have spoken," a happy Banuet proclaimed after Trico League number-four Ilwaco's win in the loser-out contest over the number-five team from the Evergreen League. The Lady Fishermen had lost three last-inning one-run games to Kalama and two close frays at LaCenter during the skid.
The game was knotted 6-6 after six when Ward led off the top half of the last frame (Ilwaco lost the coin flip and was the visiting team) with a ground ball through the left side of the infield. She moved to second on a fielder's choice from Elleigh Kaino and after a second out Banuet's clout cleared the second baseman's head and chased Ward home.
In the Cardinals home half of the seventh Erin Kelly threw out a runner from third base by a whisker and then first baseman Kelsey Madsen caught a pop fly at the fence to seal the deal.
Winlock scored first in the first frame on Ilwaco's only error of the day and three singles to go up 2-0. Ilwaco plated a run in the third on singles by Kate Denton and Ashley Tapio and Alexa Wirkkala's sacrifice fly to deep centerfield. The Lady Cardinals answered with a score on a walk, stolen base and two fielder's choices to lead 3-1 after three.
In the fourth Madsen and Ward smashed base hits and Kaino reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases. Denton's line drive to the left field gap quickly unloaded the sacks as she ended up on third with a 3-RBI triple, giving her mates a 4-3 advantage.
Ilwaco scored twice more in the fifth when Wirkkala, Kady Kirby and Madsen each singled and Winlock committed another of their errors in the fray. The Lady Cardinals tied the score at 6-6 by having three runs walk home. They took advantage of five Ilwaco bases on balls and two singles, but were held to only three tallies when Coach Rick Bishop vociferously questioned a call at third base. The Winlock runner was originally ruled safe by the field umpire, but in an unprecedented move the home plate arbiter was summoned and reversed the decision, correctly calling the base runner out.
After a scoreless sixth the Lady Fishermen rally in the seventh netted them their school-record 10th win of the year against nine defeats. Winlock ends their season at 5-10. Bishop said, "Winlock played the best game of their season, but fortunately for us we finally finished a game in great fashion. Aimee has had at least three other clutch late-inning two-out hits for us during the second half of the season and our defense played well today."
Denton was 3-5 for Ilwaco with a record five RBI's and Ward was 3-4. Kirby and Madsen were both 2-4 and Tapio was 2-5 for the game. Wirkkala and Banuet also contributed singles to the Lady Fishermen's season-high 14 safeties. Couch gave up five hits, walked six, struck out six and allowed five earned runs in evening her pitching record at 9-9.
Ilwaco will take on Montesano (14-0 in the Evergreen League and ranked number two in the state behind Castle Rock) at 10 a.m. at Fort Borst Park in Centralia Wednesday, May 20 in the 1A district opener. They will play either Forks or Kalama at 4 p.m. the same day.
If the Lady Fishermen win two district games before they lose two, they will make their first state tournament appearance in school history dating back to 1996. If they lose two before they win two, they will be eliminated.
Ilwaco won their first nine games, lost their next nine, and for the record- Dr. Jekyll knows the formula that if the Winlock win begins another nine-game winning streak, the Lady Fishermen would be district and state champions.
Ilwaco 001 230 1 7-17-1
Winlock 201 030 0 6-5-4
Alexis Couch (W) and Kate Denton; R. Henenway (L) and C. Chickese