LACEY — Two sunny afternoons, six games and 43 innings after the Prairie Falcons entered the Regional Athletic Complex they returned back to Clark County with a fourth-place trophy in tow and a season under wraps.
The Falcons went 4-2 on the weekend, scoring more than 10 runs each of their wins, before eventually losing a nail-bitter to Shadle Park in the 3A state tournament’s third-place game.
It was a new year and a new start for the Prairie program in 2014, bringing in a new head coach — Ari VanHorn — after losing last season in the state title game.
According to VanHorn and her players, the transition certainly was not easy, especially in the preseason.
A team that began the season as a collection of individuals culminated in a team that played for each other.
“I think we totally came together as a family this weekend,” Prairie senior second baseman Sam Workman said. “Especially how we played in preseason compared to now is great.”
“I’m really proud of our girls and how hard we pushed through having a new coach. Changing the whole program, we just pushed through as we could and I’m really proud of them,” said senior Holly Kersanty.
The Falcons lost their first game on Friday to Glacier Peak in eight innings but fought the whole tournament to keep their season alive.
The best example from the weekend was when they were down 6-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning of on Saturday against Glacier Peak before eventually winning in 10 innings.
They made two pitching changes but fought back to play one more game behind Irene McGuire’s game-winning RBI to earn a spot in the third-place game.
Determination became a trademark of the Falcons according to senior shortstop Nicole O’Haver.
“Especially how we came back from that first loss knowing that we can’t win state but wanting to still go as far as we possibly could,” O’Haver said.
It helped Prairie’s run that its bats came alive, too. Kayla Bergerson, for example, hit a home run in each of the Falcons’ first two Saturday games.
“We’ve hit the ball better than we’ve ever hit,” VanHorn said.
But, according to them, the success and the scoring didn’t only come from everybody swinging the bat better but from a desire to do everything necessary to win. VanHorn said that was the biggest difference.
“They were doing their job. Everybody, from the pitchers down the girls who are my base runners. They all did their jobs and accepted their roles and I think that’s a huge thing in a program,” she said.
For the team’s four seniors — O’Haver, Workman, Kersanty and Bergerson — their high school careers are over. VanHorn is optimistic that their youth will serve them moving forward with the program.
“I know that we left behind a big goal for the team next year. I know the sophomores and juniors are going to want it even more and I think it will be a successful season next year, too.”