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Spring back: 2001 Skyview softball team first Storm squad with state title

The Columbian
Published:
3 Photos
Skyview's Kara Lefebvre hugs winning pitcher Chemil Washington after the Storm beat W.F. West 3-2 in 8 innings for the 2001 3A state championship.
Skyview's Kara Lefebvre hugs winning pitcher Chemil Washington after the Storm beat W.F. West 3-2 in 8 innings for the 2001 3A state championship. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Skyview High School opened in the fall of 1997. The Storm celebrated their first state title in any sport when the softball team beat W.F. West for the Class 3A state championship.

This is the story of the Storm’s triumph in 2001.

TACOMA — When the Class 3A state softball tournament began, Skyview’s players tried to fathom the thrills that come with winning the title.

When it finally happened Saturday at South End Recreation Area, the reality of a state title surpassed each player’s wildest dreams.

Melissa Farrens’ game-winning single in the eighth inning gave Skyview a 3-2 victory over defending champion W.F. West of Chehalis.

Beth Kenck scored the winning run, sliding home in a cloud of dust. When the haze cleared, vivid images of the first state title in Skyview’s four-year history came into focus.

“It was always on our mind,” senior Gretchen Bowman said. “But now it’s unreal. The whole game it didn’t feel like we were in the state championship. We did the same things we had before every game. We kept our traditions.”

As the first-place trophy appeared on the field, shortstop Stacey Bartels began shaking in a frenzy. Her shrieks were incoherent, but her excitement rang clear.

Using arms that pitched 29 shutout innings, Chemil Washington grabbed Farrens in a bear hug. Only love came from limbs that caused opponents so much grief.

Extra-inning games became a tradition for Skyview at the state tournament. After going extra frames to beat Issaquah and Everett on Friday, the Storm did not panic when the title game went into the eighth inning.

Many teams would have cracked, especially after having a two-run lead vanish in the seventh inning.

After scoring twice in the fourth inning, Skyview took a 2-0 lead into the seventh. Two outs followed a leadoff single. Skyview’s bench players clutched the dugout fence in anticipation.

But Kati Morton hit a double down the left field line to pull W.F. West within 2-1. Dianne Emery followed with a single to score Morton and send the Bearcats bench into a frenzy.

Kenck’s single began Skyview’s rally in the eighth. She advanced to second on a passed ball, setting the stage for Farrens’ one-out, game-winning single to center field.

“We’ve haven’t beaten many teams by a large margin,” sophomore catcher Savannah Mitcham said. “We don’t win by a lot, but it works. We have a positive attitude. We’re not full of ourselves because we’ve come out of nowhere.”

Skyview had beaten W.F. West last week in the Southwest District title game. With only three seniors on both rosters combined, the teams should each contend for next year’s state title.

W.F. West coach Russ Lunders was surprised by the improvement of Skyview, which did not qualify for state last season.

“Skyview didn’t succumb to the pressure,” Lunders said. “They made the plays they had to make. That’s the quality of a champion.”

Mitcham’s two-out RBI triple put Skyview on the board in the fourth inning. She scored when Bowman followed with a single.

Skyview flexed its hitting muscles earlier Saturday in a 2-0 semifinal win over Jackson.

Washington blasted a two-run home run over the center field fence in the second inning. It was the only home run of the tournament.

After Washington’s home run, Jackson center fielder Melissa Klein shouted complimentary words toward the crowd along the foul line.

“I’m happy for that girl,” she said. “She hit the ball and I thought ‘Oh my god.’ Then all I saw was the ‘Got Milk’ sign.”

With power and poise, Skyview completed an undefeated run through the Greater St. Helens League, the Southwest District tournament and state tournament to finish the season 22-4.

“I can’t think of any other way to end this year,” Bowman said.

Written by Micah Rice, The Columbian, May 27, 2001

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