LACEY – For as much as its never-say-die attitude defines the Heritage softball team, one prediction once would have seemed a stretch.
When the Timberwolves broke for spring break on April 1, their record stood at 1-7.
What if you had told senior pitcher Makenzie Misner then that Heritage would eventually qualify for the Class 3A state tournament?
“Ummm, I don’t know,” she would have said.
Know this about Heritage. Few teams in Southwest Washington have improved as much and are playing as well as the Timberwolves are now.
With a 10-5 win over Timberline at the bi-district tournament on Saturday, Heritage clinched its third state berth in program history and first since 2010.
“I think everyone doubts us because we’re Heritage,” Misner said. “But I know us. We’re a big team and we fight through thick and thin.”
Since regrouping after spring break, the Timberwolves fought their way to second place in the 3A Greater St. Helens League, ending the regular season with four wins in their last five games.
“I think spring break really helped,” Misner said. “We got to regenerate as ourselves and come back stronger as a team.”
But Heritage had no room for error at the bi-district tournament. The Timberwolves survived two loser-out games Thursday, rallying from an 8-1 deficit in a first-round win over Central Kitsap.
That set up the Timberwolves with two chances to clinch a state berth on Saturday.
They only needed one.
Heritage clubbed four home runs to wrap up one of the tournament’s seven state berths with the win over Timberline of Lacey.
Even in Saturday’s state-clinching win, Heritage had to rally. Timberline plated five runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-2 lead.
But the energy never waned in the Timberwolves dugout.
“They build each other up and don’t allow any negativity,” Heritage coach Lacey Oleson said. “It’s beautiful to watch.”
The Timberwolves scored five runs in the fifth inning to regain control. Misner’s three-run home run, a no-doubt blast to left field, put the Timberwolves ahead 6-5.
Larissa Villa, the next batter, followed with her fourth home run in the last four games. Cayleigh White and Hailey Dowell also went deep for the Timberwolves.
Each homer set off a joyous team mob at home plate as the hitter circled the bases.
“After we did team-bonding, it was a really big help,” Villa said. “I love my teammates. We’re like a big happy family.”
Aside from the fourth inning Timberline couldn’t get to Misner, who struck out nine and allowed six hits.
It was the latest solid outing for Misner, who was named 3A GSHL pitcher of the year this week.
“This is my favorite season with her,” Oleson said of Misner. “To watch how she has progressed from day one to where she is now. Her perseverance, her drive and her determination to put us at the top, it’s beautiful.”
At 10-11, Heritage won’t have a gaudiest record of the 20 teams at the state tournament next week, also in Lacey. But few teams will come in with as much confidence and grit.
“We fight for it all the way to the end,” Misner said. “That’s a big part of our personality, just not giving up. Our energy stays high the whole time.”
PENINSULA 10, PRAIRIE 0 – Alli Kimball no-hit the Falcons as top-seeded Peninsula cruised to a five-inning 3A bi-district semifinal win.
YELM 12, PRAIRIE 8 – The Falcons nearly rallied back from an 8-1 deficit but couldn’t catch the Tornadoes in the bi-district third-place game.
Alysia Fraley hit a three-run home run to key Prairie’s six-run fifth inning. That cut Yelm’s lead to 8-7. But the Tornadoes bounced back with three runs in the top of the sixth and a solo home run in the seventh.
Pravina Blunk went 3 for 3 with two runs and a double for Prairie, which qualified for state with a first-round win on Thursday. Ashlee Porter went 3 for 4 with two runs and a double.
Yelm’s Jessika Jennings hit for the cycle, going 4 for 4 with four runs and three RBI.
HERITAGE 10, TIMBERLINE 5
Timberline 000 500 0—5 6 1
Heritage 002 053 x—10 9 2
Pitching – Polanco 6 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 10 K, 4 BB; Covey 0 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 0 K, 1 BB. Highlights – Fredrick 1-3, R; Jack 3-4, R, RBI; Polanco 2-3, 2R.
Pitching – Makenzie Misner 7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 9 K, 5 BB. Highlights – Lydia Schwenker 1-2, 3 R; Cayleigh White 1-4, R, 2 RBI, HR; Makenzie Misner 3-4, R, 4 RBI, HR; Larissa Villa 1-4, R, RBI, HR; Kylie Stroup 1-3; Hailey Dowell 1-2, 2 R, RBI, HR; Taylor Frost 1-2, 2 R.
PENINSULA 10, PRAIRIE 0
Prairie 000 00—0 0 2
Peninsula 011 62—10 11 0
Pitching – Jade Hayslip 4.1 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 4 K, 4 BB.
Pitching – Kimball 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 14 K, 3 BB. Highlights – O’Reilly 1-3, R, RBI, 2B; Coit 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B; Kimball 1-3, 2 RBI, 2B; Estabrook 2-3, R, 2 RBI, 2B; Davis 1-1, 2 R; Sonnen 1-1, 2 R, RBI; Ruckle 2-3, 2 R.
YELM 12, PRAIRIE 8
Yelm 012 503 1—12 16 1
Prairie 010 061 0 – 8 11 2
Pitching – Watts 4.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 6 K, 2 BB; Erickson 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Dewees 1-3, R; Thompson 3-5; Aven 1-4, R, RBI, HR; Hicks 2-5, R, RBI; Lawson 1-3, R; Jennings 4-4, 4 R, 4 RBI, HR, 3B, 2B; Embrey 3-4, R, 5 RBI; Cederburg 1-4, RBI.
Pitching – Rylee Wall 3.2 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 2 K, 1 BB; Jade Hayslip 3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Pravina Blunk 3-3, 2 R, RBI, 2B, SB; Alysia Fraly 1-3, R, 4 RBI, HR; Payton Blunt 1-4, R; Jade Hayslip 1-3, R; Ashlee Porter 3-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B; Abbey Bishop 1-4, RBI.