RICHLAND — It took one of the best players in the state to end one of the best win streaks in the state.
The Woodland Beavers had to settle for second place in the Class 1A state softball tournament Saturday as Ashley Thompson and Connell won their third consecutive championship with a 4-0 victory.
Thompson struck out 15 and also hit a home run, ending Woodland’s winning streak at 25 games.
The Beavers lost their first game of the season and their last, but in between did enough to win league, district, and make it to the state championship game.
“It’s just an honor to get back here and get second,” Woodland senior pitcher Makayla Lefever said. “It’s a great feeling. Even though we wanted to get first, second is really good.”
The Beavers will lose four seniors to graduation. All four of them hit home runs in the first game of this tournament, a special event for this special season.
“It’s been great, this whole experience,” Emily Tesdale said.
Emma Pilkington, who hit a home run in the 5-1 semifinal victory over Lakeside earlier on Saturday, said it’s been a memorable career. All four seniors were on the team that won a state title when they were freshmen.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Pilkington said, noting the team did not make it back to state the last two years. “This year, making the championship game, that’s the best feeling ever.”
Karlee Dyson and Pilkington will remain teammates. They both plan on playing for Centralia College. Dyson switched from JV to varsity her freshman season. This was her first trip to state as a full-time varsity player.
“This really means a lot. I’m going to miss everyone,” she said.
Lefever and Tesdale will be competing against each other in college. Tesdale, a catcher, is going to Pacific University. Lefever will pitch for Whitworth.
“Makayla’s my best friend. It’s been really cool to be able to catch for her,” Tesdale said.
Lefever threw 24 innings in this tournament, giving up two earned runs while striking out 41 batters.
The Beavers likely will try to remember all the wins this year rather than that final loss.
Connell got an unearned run after a Woodland error in the second inning. The way Thompson was pitching, that looked to be enough. Then Connell scored three more in the third. Thompson hit a long home run to make it 2-0 and, later, McKenna Mathis hit a two-run double.
Woodland freshman Jessica Flanagan and Dyson were the only Beavers to get a hit against Thompson.
“We knew Connell was a great team,” Woodland coach Damon Yeo said. “They got us today.”
Still, Woodland got a second-place trophy. Not the one they wanted, but one they proudly accepted after missing out on the state tournament the past two seasons.
Note: For more on the first game of the day, go to The Columbian’s high school sports blog at 360preps.com
Class 1A state softball tournament
CONNELL 4, WOODLAND 0
Woodland 000 000 0—0 2 2
Connell 013 000 x—4 8 1
Pitcher — Makayla Lefever 6 IP, loss, 2 ER, 9 Ks. Highlights — Jessica Flanagan 1-3; Karlee Dyson 1-3.
Pitcher — Ashley Thompson 7 IP, win, 15 Ks. Highlights — McKenna Mathis 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Alex Shuster 1-3; Thompson 1-2, HR, RBI; Hope Sawyer 1-3; Grayson Corrales 2-3; MarciAnne Hawkins 2-3.
WOODLAND 5, LAKESIDE 1
Lakeside 000 001 0—1 3 0
Woodland 100 022 x—5 10 2
Pitcher — Nikki Tiffany 6 IP, loss, 4 Ks. Highlights — Miranda Brittos 1-3; Madi Naccarato 1-3; Taylor Sheldon 1-3, RBI.
Pitcher — Makayla Lefever 7 IP, win, 11 Ks, 0 ER. Highlights — Emma Pilkington 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Emily Tesdale 3-3, 2 2Bs, RBI; Karlee Dyson 1-3; Lefever 1-2, RBI; Madison Sorensen 1-4; Jessica Flanagan 1-4; Kendall Grell 0-2, RBI; Haylee Michaud 1-3.