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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Sept. 30, 2023

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4A state softball: Skyview, Battle Ground softball teams eliminated on first day of tournament

By , Columbian staff writer
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Battle Ground and Skyview players pose for photos after both 4A Greater St. Helens League teams saw their seasons come to an end at the Class 4A state softball tournament on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Richland.
Battle Ground and Skyview players pose for photos after both 4A Greater St. Helens League teams saw their seasons come to an end at the Class 4A state softball tournament on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Richland. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RICHLAND — As the saying goes, misery loves company.

Skyview and Battle Ground’s softball teams have had their fair share of back-and-forth games in recent memory.

The two 4A Greater St. Helens League programs finished second and third, respectively, at last season’s Class 4A state tournament, and were on a collision course to meet again Friday at the latest state tournament.

Instead, both were eliminated from the tournament by the end of the day Friday. Skyview reached the quarterfinals following a win over Olympia, then lost to Glacier Peak and Kamiak to see its season come to an end.

Battle Ground, meanwhile, dropped its opener to Glacier Peak, rallied to beat Olympia in a loser-out game then fell short against Rogers-Puyallup in another elimination game.

Both results occurred within 30 minutes each other on adjacent fields. With players still milling around, fighting back tears and trying to process the end of their seasons, a parent of a Skyview player suggested both teams come together for a group picture behind home plate.

So, in a sign of mutual respect between the two programs, Skyview and Battle Ground players stood together, alternating blue and orange jerseys while parents snapped photos. It wasn’t the ending either team envisioned, but the moment was about more than wins and losses.

“Coming from the same area is really cool,” Skyview sophomore Maddie Milhorn said. “Making it to state and being from the same league is really nice, so we’re just cheering each other on. We both fell a little short, but it’s all right.”

For Skyview, Friday started as a promising day for a team supercharged by the return of Milhorn, its ace pitcher, following an ankle injury suffered one week ago at the 4A bi-district tournament.

Several hours later, in the second of three games played Friday, Skyview was out of gas and in need of a refill.

The No. 3 seed Storm suffered a 3-1 loss to No. 6 Glacier Peak in the state quarterfinals after both teams advanced through the morning opening round.

“I think having such a long break, that always throws teams off a little bit,” Skyview sophomore Lainey Phillips said. “But then we came in and … I feel like our energy was just off.”

Glacier Peak was held scoreless through five innings against Skyview, but rallied to tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning on McKellan Hamilton’s RBI base hit to plate Katelyn McCallum, who led off the frame with a double.

With a chance to take the lead the following inning, the Grizzlies pounced.

Two base hits and a hit batter loaded the bases for Glacier Peak, before another batter hit by a Skyview pitch gave the Grizzlies the go-ahead run. McCallum added a sacrifice fly to give the Grizzlies a two-run cushion.

Glacier Peak’s Maya Mesa earned the win by pitching the final five innings, limiting Skyview to two hits with nine strikeouts, two walks and no runs allowed.

“Coming in today, I think we knew that the pitchers were going to be better,” Milhorn said. “Especially next year, I think we need to work on adjusting the strike zones a little bit. We still made contact with the ball well and we had great at-bats I think, again, we fell a little short.”

The loss dropped Skyview into a loser-out game against Kamiak. The Storm fell 6-1 to end their season at 23-4.

In her return from injury, Milhorn pitched all 14 innings of Skyview’s first two games and compiled 22 strikeouts with three walks, eight hits and three earned runs given up.

That stretch included a two-hit shutout against Olympia. The Storm scored both runs in the third inning on Kylie Lester’s two-run double and the result held up for the remainder of the game.

In the quarterfinal against Glacier Peak, Skyview scored its lone run in the first inning thanks to Phillips’ RBI base hit on the heels of a Milhorn double.

Skyview, which finished second at the 2022 state tournament, finished the 2023 regular season undefeated before dropping two games last week at the 4A bi-district tournament without Milhorn and two on Friday.

The Storm return nearly its entire roster, which is largely made up of underclassmen.

“We’re a super young team and I think next year we’ll come out even stronger, better, a more mature team and smarter,” Milhorn said. “I’m really excited.”

Battle Ground goes 1-2 Friday 

With their backs against the wall, the Battle Ground Tigers often seem to be at their best.

Last week, it was winning two loser-out games at the 4A bi-district tournament to clinch a state berth.

On Friday, after dropping a 4-3 decision to Glacier Peak in the opening round, the Tigers were once again fighting to extend their season.

In a loser-out game to follow against Olympia, a wild pitch allowed Battle Ground’s Brooke Rausch to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to capture a 5-4 win for the Tigers. They moved on to play Rogers-Puyallup in a loser-out game late Friday, but fell 8-2 to end their season at 18-7.

Earlier against Olympia, Battle Ground bounced back from a one-run deficit and took a 4-3 lead in the sixth when Annali Lindersmith hit a game-tying RBI single and Candice Torgerson followed with a base hit to bring home the go-ahead run.

Then, after Olympia’s Ava Bautista swung momentum with a solo home run in the top of the seventh, Battle Ground got back to work when Rylee Rehbein led off with a base hit.

Rausch got on base on a fielder’s choice, then reached third on a ground out. Then, a wild pitch got behind home plate allowing Rausch to score the winning run.

Rausch led the Tigers with two RBI on the day, both in game one against Glacier Peak. Lindersmith and Rehbein each had a team-high four hits across two games.

Rehbein pitched all 14 innings against Glacier Peak and Olympia, compiling 21 strikeouts with four walks.

In a relief outing against Rogers-Puyallup, Rehbein pitched the final four innings with seven strikeouts while allowing just two hits and no walks. Fittingly, the final pitch of her high school career was a strikeout.