LACEY – The Heritage softball team has an early wake-up call on Friday. But at least the Timberwolves will have sweet dreams.
Hailey Dowell hit a home run and drove in four runs and Lillie Stroup pitched three innings of hitless relief as Heritage beat Garfield of Seattle 11-6 to advance to the round-of-16 at the 3A state tournament Thursday.
After returning home to Vancouver after Thursday’s win, the Timberwolves must get up early Friday for a 9 a.m. game against Snohomish at the Regional Athletic Complex.
“I have to leave at 4:45 in the morning,” Dowell groaned.
Of course, it’s better than the alternative, which is not returning at all. That’s what happened to the Timberwolves last season in the round-of-20 elimination game at state.
“It feels a lot better because everyone thought we weren’t going to make it this far, even in districts,” Dowell said. “It felt really good to win our first game at state.”
The Timberwolves came out swing on Thursday with Taylor Frost and Charliana Lizama delivering singles on the first two pitches of the game. That led to a 1-0 lead on Cayleigh White’s RBI groundout.
After Garfield scored one in the top of the second, Heritage countered with four runs in the bottom of the second. Lizama’s bunt led to a two-run error, then Dowell connected on a two-run home run to left.
“I didn’t expect it,” Dowell said. “I just swung the bat. (The ball) was like really slow and it just ended up going over, and I was really excited. It’s my second one ever.”
Garfield rallied to tie the game 5-5 in the top of the fourth, but Dowell’s RBI single sparked a three-run rally for Heritage.
Freshman Lillie Stroup then came in relief of starting pitcher Jaila Ellis and shut down Garfield’s offense.
“She is my closer,” Heritage coach Lacey Olesen said. “She full-on comes in and loves to shut teams down. Jaila and her have a very good relationship and rapport with one another. They can even communicate that ‘you know I’m not feeling it anymore. You’re feeling it. Let’s go. Let’s flip it.’ Most of the time, I don’t even have to make the choice. They make it themselves.”
Lizama and Kylie Stroup each went 3 for 4 with an RBI, and Ellis added a double and two RBI as the Heritage bats remained hot.
Heritage finished in third place in the 3A Greater St. Helens League. But after placing third in last week’s bi-district tournament, the Timberwolves are the only 3A GSHL still playing.
“I think they finally believe it,” Olesen said. “They believe what I’ve seen from Day 1 of tryouts. Our talent, our perseverance, all of the adversity that we’ve faced this year has brought us together closer as a unit. They’re truly playing as one team instead of individuals.”
And they get to keep on playing together for at least two more games, even it means an early-morning start on Friday.
“It feels amazing, once in a lifetime,” Olesen said, before adding, “so far.”
TIMBERLINE 6, EVERGREEN 4, 8 inn. – Evergreen’s season ended with an extra-inning loss in the round-of-20.
Timberline pitched around Evergreen star Kadence Burleson, issuing the junior four walks including one to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Zoey Mikkelson went 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI, and Evergreen made the most of four hits to take a 4-2 lead after three innings.
But Timberline counted with two in the fifth and added two in the eighth to win it.