(By Geno Ludwig/Chewelah Independent – Photos by Cari Ross-Koler)
Chewelah topples top-ranked Cle Elum, wins three games in Richland…
Chewelah’s Lady Cougars along with Northeast A League sister teams Lakeside and Colville joined together last weekend to provide undisputed proof that softball rankings and win-loss records are useless in predicting state tournament outcomes.
The Lady Cougars crushed top-ranked, undefeated, and highly favored Cle Elum 8-1 in the opening game of the State Class 1A Softball Tournament in Richland on Friday morning. The Warriors came into the tournament unscathed with a 24-0 record, but they were no match for Chewelah in any aspect of the game.
After losing to the Cougars, Cle Elum beat Kiona-Benton 7-4, but was eliminated 15-4 by Bellevue Christian on Friday evening in a loser-out game, never making it to the second day of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Lady Cougars outscored Warden 9-6 and hammered Zillah 12-2 before being beaten by Hoquiam 5-0 in the consolation semifinal game. They finished the tournament with three wins and two losses, placing sixth out of the 16 teams in the tournament.
“The five games in two days was pretty quick paced but they have played in a lot of summer tournaments where they play 4-7 games in two days,” Cougar Coach Tom Skok said. “The heat was the most difficult thing for them to deal with but I thought for the most part they did pretty well.”
Like Chewelah, Lakeside and Colville advanced to play in Saturday’s games. Lakeside made it into the battle for third and fourth places in the tournament. The Lady Eagles slid past Lynden Christian 1-0, shut out South Whidbey 4-0, defeated Bellevue Christian 8-4, outscored Colville 6-2, but lost to state champion Montesano 15-3 and to third place Hoquiam 6-2.
They won four games while losing two and brought home the fourth place team trophy.
Colville made it into the tournament semifinals with a 10-1 win over Kiona-Benton and a 12-2 win over Chewelah.
The Lady Indians next lost to second place LaCenter 8-1 and then to Lakeside by a 6-2 score in the consolation semifinals. The Lady Indians won two of their four state tournament games and placed fifth.
Thus, three of the top six teams in this year’s state softball tournament—Chewelah, Lakeside, and Colville— were from the Northeast A League. The three combined to win nine games.
“Almost every game this year we got better and we will continue to do so this off season,” Skok said.” It is likely that only two teams from our league will go to state next year and I would love for us to be one of those two teams.”
Chewelah 8, Cle Elum 1
The Lady Cougars had a slow start against unbeaten Cle Elum in their opening game of the tournament, but after three scoreless innings Chewelah batters started to make solid contact with the ball. Krislyn Koler’s leadoff triple in the fourth inning sparked a three-run rally, kick-starting the Cougar offense. Tylee Frizzell was walked, giving Chewelah a pair of baserunners. Zandy Nelson’s double scored Koler and Frizzell.
Larissa Sweat’s single brought Nelson home, and the Cougars had a 3-0 lead. Jaelynn Skok’s third of four hits ignited a two-run fifth inning for Chewelah. Maddie Koler’s triple up the middle sent Skok home. Cousin Krislyn batted Maddie in for a 5-1 Cougar lead.
Five hits produced three more Chewelah runs in the sixth inning. Singles were hit by Nelson, Sweat, Skok, and Kennedy Robison. Jamie Eide then swatted a two-run double, and the Chewelah lead widened to 8-1. Neither team scored in the final inning. Sweat hit her fourth single of the game, but she was not brought home.
Cle Elum also had a baserunner that did not score. So, the score never changed and Chewelah handed the Warriors their first loss of the season after 24 consecutive wins.
The Cougars had 14 hits, including four each by Skok and Sweat. Skok’s pitching limited Cle Elum to four hits and one run. The win sent Chewelah into the quarterfinals to face Colville, which had opened with a 10-3 win over Kiona-Benton.
Colville 11, Chewelah 1
After upsetting Cle Elum on Friday morning, Chewelah’s bats cooled off that afternoon as the Cougars hammered only four hits in an 11-1 loss to Colville.
“I thought we had a great tournament, the biggest disappointment was how we played against Colville,” Skok said. “I think we were pushing to hard and that didn’t work out very well for us. The rest of the games I thought we either played great our toughened up when it was crunch time.”
Indian pitcher Gracie Schauls kept Chewelah hitters off-balance with her lefty delivery, and the ball could not find a gap in the Colville defense.
Tylee Frizzell singled in the second inning and was brought home by another single by Larissa Sweat for Chewelah’s lone run of the game. Maddie Koler and Kennedy Robison also had hits for the Cougars, but they did not score.
The bottom half of Colville’s batting order did all of the damage against Chewelah, scoring 10 runs on 10 hits.
Colville advanced to face LaCenter in the semifinals. Chewelah had to come back right away to play Warden, which had just eliminated Deer Park 7-4.
Chewelah 9, Warden 6
The Lady Cougars put eight runs on the scoreboard through the third and fourth innings and held on to defeat a persistent Warden team 9-6 in Friday evening’s game. They trailed 1-0 at the end of two innings, but when they started through their batting order a second time the hits began to show up. Consecutive singles by Skok, Eide, and the Koler cousins scored three Chewelah runs. Another single from Nelson brought in one more run, and the Cougars took a 4-1 lead.
Singles by Robison, Skok, and both of the Kolers sent four more Chewelah runners home in the fourth inning.
Those runs gave the Cougars an 8-2 lead.
Nelson, Sweat, and Smith connected for singles in the fifth Chewelah at-bat to score the final Cougar run of the game. A four-hit rally by Warden in that inning tightened the score to 9-5, and the mid-state Cougars scored one more run in the sixth inning. However, Chewelah slammed on the brakes and held on for the 9-6 victory.
Every player in the Cougar lineup had at least one hit against Warden. Maddie Koler went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in. Skok, Nelson, Smith, and Krislyn
Koler each had two hits. In all, Chewelah hammered 15 hits, every one a single.
The 9-6 win kept Chewelah alive in the loser-out bracket to play Zillah on Saturday morning.
Chewelah 12, Zillah 2
The Lady Cougars started Saturday’s state tournament action with a 12-2 win over the Zillah Leopards as Chewelah bats bombarded the ball.
“In our morning games we really played well, if we could have played 5 games at 10 a.m. we may have won the tournament,” Skok said. “Our focus in all but the Colville game was right where it needed to be, We were intense but not nervous. We scrapped together runs in our wins and didn’t falter when we got down. I thought our whole team played well throughout the tournament but I was especially impressed with Haley Kuk and Jaelynn Skok, catching and pitching five games, at that level, in that short of a time was amazing.”
Trailing 1-0 after the opening inning, the Cougars went to work at the plate.
Consecutive singles by Zandy Nelson, Kennedy Robison, and Larissa Sweat scored one run. Another one-bagger from Jaelynn Skok brought two more Chewelah runners home for a 3-1 lead. Jamie Eide’s triple then cleared the bases for Chewelah, and Krislyn Koler’s sacrifice fly brought Eide home to widen the Cougar lead to 5-1.
In the second inning, Chewelah posted another run. Nelson got on base on an error, stole second base, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a pitch that got past the Zillah catcher. Her run gave the Cougars a 6-1 lead.
A double by Tylee Frizzell, followed by singles from Nelson and Sweat added three more runs to the Chewelah side of the scoreboard. After four innings, the Cougars led 9-2.
Chewelah sent Leopard batters back to the dugout in order in both the fifth and sixth innings to maintain their seven-run lead. The Cougars then used their final at-bat to score three insurance runs. Singles from Bailey Smith, Eide, and Frizzell provided the power at the plate, ending Zillah’s softball season by a 12-2 score. Eide, Nelson, and Maddie Koler led the Cougars at the plate with three hits apiece. Frizzell and Eide each hit run-scoring doubles in the Chewelah 16-hit victory.
Hoquiam 5, Chewelah 0
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association awards trophies to only the top four teams at state softball tournaments. That was unfortunate for Colville and Chewelah, who placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
Both teams survived into the afternoon of the final day and deserved a trophy. The Cougars lost to Hoquiam 5-0 and the Indians were beaten by Lakeside 6-2 in their last games of the tournament.
They did not play each other for final placing, but Colville had beaten the Cougars earlier in the tournament and thus deserved the fifth place finish.
Chewelah bats seemed to run out of hits against Hoquiam. The Cougars did get six singles, but they were spread so far apart that they did not manufacture runs.
Robison went 2-for-3 and almost scored in the seventh inning trying to avoid the shutout. However, she was put out at the plate. Skok, Eide, Smith, and Emily Adams also had hits.
The loss to Hoquiam ended a successful season for the Lady Cougars. They finished second in league play, second in the district tournament, and sixth at the state tournament.