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4A Bi-District Softball: Skyview overcomes drama to wrap up state berth

Battle Ground stays alive after beating Union in loser-out game

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: May 17, 2024, 10:59pm
9 Photos
Skyview's Lainey Phillips, right, is congratulated by coach Kim Anthony after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of a quarterfinal game against South Kitsap in the Class 4A District 3/4 tournament on Friday, May 17, 2024 in Kent.
Skyview's Lainey Phillips, right, is congratulated by coach Kim Anthony after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of a quarterfinal game against South Kitsap in the Class 4A District 3/4 tournament on Friday, May 17, 2024 in Kent. (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

KENT – A rude awakening, some rough footing and a tedious delay.

None of that could keep the Skyview softball team from its main goal Friday at the Class 4A District 3/4 tournament – A fourth consecutive state playoff berth.

Skyview won both its games at the Kent Service Club Ballfields, beating Puyallup 7-1 in the first round before snuffing out South Kitsap 7-3 in the quarterfinals.

Skyview (20-0) punched its ticket to next weekend’s Class 4A state tournament in Richland and Saturday’s semifinals, where the No. 4 seed Storm will face top-seeded Olympia.

Yes, Skyview is exactly where it wants to be after Friday. The Storm just wish the day had a little less drama.

It started when the team awoke to find the school bus it rode north had been broken into and vandalized overnight. The Kent School District sent a replacement bus to take Skyview to the ballfields, then took the vandalized bus to its shop for repairs.

Then, early the quarterfinal, Skyview and pitcher Maddie Milhorn took issue with the conditions near the front of the pitcher’s circle. After 30 minutes of repairs failed to fix the issue, the game was delayed until it could be moved to another field.

“I stride a little farther than other pitchers because I’m pretty tall,” Milhorn said. “I was falling in an awkward place where I rolled my ankle. I sprained my ankle on that field last year. I was trying to push through but my coaches figured safety was better than playing.”

The teams waited another 70 minutes until a neighboring field was free. Once the game resumed, Milhorn was in prime form despite dealing with a bleeding finger from the start of the first-round game.

The junior, who has committed to Oregon, held South Kitsap hitless until the sixth inning. She finished with 11 strikeouts, allowing two hits and two walks.

“It happened, but we didn’t let it affect us,” Milhorn said. “We pushed through and got it done.”

Skyview already had a lead before the delay, which happened in the top of the second. That was thanks to catcher Layla Royle, who blasted a two-run home run in the first.

Royle went 2 for 2 with four RBI in the quarterfinals after going 1 for 3 with two RBI in the first round.

“I just try not to overcomplicate it,” Royle said. “When I think too much I don’t have enough time to see the ball and hit the ball. When I go up there I take my dad’s advice: ‘See ball, hit ball, smash.’”

Royle nearly had a second home run, hitting a sacrifice fly to the fence that gave Skyview a 4-0 lead in the fifth.

But South Kitsap wouldn’t go quietly. Kamdyn Hagerty broke up Milhorn’s no-hit bid with a solo home run with two outs in the sixth. Then, after a walk, Eva Spencer blasted a two-run homer to pull the No. 12-seed Wolves within 4-3.

But pinch hitter Lainey Phillips grabbed the momentum back, leading off the bottom of the sixth with a home run. The Storm tacked on two more runs when Milhorn drew a bases-loaded walk followed by a Royle infield single.

A long, unpredictable day tested Skyview but also showed the Storm’s resolve.

“We’re very flexible and I appreciate that about us as a team,” Royle said.

“We always have something going on,” added Milhorn with a smile.

BATTLE GROUND 11, UNION 7 – Jenna Crabtree’s three-run homer helped the Tigers jump to an 8-0 lead in the second inning in an elimination game against their 4A Greater St. Helens League rival.

Zoey Hughes also hit a three-run blast in the fifth-inning to put Battle Ground ahead 11-2. The Tigers face another loser-out game Saturday morning that they’ll need to win before having a chance to reach state.

“They’re just not done yet,” Battle Ground coach Jeremy Barr said. “That’s been our mantra the last couple of years at bi-districts and onto state – NDY, not done yet.”

No. 10 seed Union (14-5) won two of three league games this season against No. 15 seed Battle Ground (14-8).

The Titans didn’t go quietly. McKinley Ermshar’s two-RBI single keyed a three-run fifth inning that cut Battle Ground’s lead to 11-5. Ermshar also hit a two-run home run in the seventh.

“It’s nice to see other teams,” Barr said. “My heart breaks for (Union) because I know what good people they are and what great kids they have over there. We are so grateful to have an opportunity to move on, but it’s hard to see kids and other coaches in our league that we care about going home.”

GRAHAM KAPOWSIN 8, UNION 7 – The Titans rally in the seventh inning came up just short in a first-round loss.

Trailing 8-5, Sophia Rickard and Niah Cassidy each hit RBI singles to put the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. But Graham Kapowsin’s Reagan Ovechka got a strikeout to end the threat.

Union trailed 6-1 entering the fifth inning but scored four runs. Michala Dupree hit an RBI double in the inning on a day when she went 2 for 3 with a solo home run in the first inning.

KENTWOOD 4, BATTLE GROUND 2 – Sarah Wright had 15 strikeouts to send the Tigers to a first-round loss.

Battle Ground got five hits and two walks against Wright, one of the state’s top pitchers who has signed with Arizona. Seyah Lindersmith went 2 for 3 with an RBI double in the seventh inning.

Kentwood jumped to a 3-0 lead on Isabella Thomasson’s three-run homer in the first inning. From there, the Battle Ground pitching duo of Zoey Hughes and Mika Concannon held the Conquerors in check with each recording six strikeouts.

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