(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
Cougars win four games at state, bring home a well-deserved trophy…
It was fitting, perhaps, that the final at-bat of Chewelah’s season was by senior Madi Koler who did her best to hustle down to beat Northwest Christian’s throw to first base. While it was recorded as the final out in the scorebook, waiting for Koler at the base was her dad Lace and emotion immediately took over for the powerhouse player. The two hugged as the tears flowed and it was one heck of a representation of what a family the Chewelah softball program has become.
“When it all came to an end it all hit me like a ton of bricks,” Koler, who is playing college softball next year, said. “After the last out it was a bunch of emotions, sadness that it’s over, all the memories just flooded in.”
The seniors of this group have been special as they’ve been around for three consecutive trips to state.
Bailey Smith, Madison Koler, Kennedy Robison, Kyli Paluck, Miranda Ehlert and Haylee Hunter-Lee were the seniors on the team this year and you’d be hard-pressed to ignore their contributions to the Cougars’ success.
“The seniors this year are very special,” Robison said. “Many of this years seniors have been playing since we were eight years old in youth league and during the summer on traveling club teams.”
Both Koler and Robison will be going on to play college softball.
“Off the field, many of us are 12-year seniors and are close friends which I feel our respect for one another reflects during our games and practices,” Robison said. “Our seniors and team are competitive athletes who want to give their best, win, and display good sportsmanship.”
Overachievers the previous two years, the Cougars overcame playing bigger schools, more storied or higher-ranked softball programs and finished in fifth place twice in the State 1A Tournament. This year, the senior class that Koler is a part of helped power the best finish ever by a Chewelah team on the softball team. The Cougars’ 8-3 loss to NWC could hardly erase the accomplishment of a top four finish in the state.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet but I’m sure it will,” Chewelah pitcher Abby Fuller said. “We kept the momentum up by having fun, cheering and focusing on the game and not on how tired we were.”