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News / Sports / Prep Sports

4A Bi-District Softball: Battle Ground joins champion Skyview as state-bound

Tigers win twice to punch ticket; Storm stay undefeated

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: May 18, 2024, 6:55pm
5 Photos
Battle Ground's Mika Concannon delivers a pitch in a loser-out game against South Kitsap at the Class 4A District 3/4 tournament on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Kent.
Battle Ground's Mika Concannon delivers a pitch in a loser-out game against South Kitsap at the Class 4A District 3/4 tournament on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Kent. (Micah Rice/The Columbian). Photo Gallery

KENT – The Battle Ground softball team found its mojo at the perfect time.

After dropping three of their last four Class 4A Greater St. Helens League games to finish third, the Tigers had little momentum heading into this weekend’s District 3/4 Tournament at the Kent Service Club Ballfields.

But Battle Ground headed home Saturday with the swagger of a team that has now made four consecutive 4A state tournaments.

The Tigers (16-8) triumphed 2-1 over South Kitsap in a tense loser-out game before punching their ticket to state with a dominant 7-1 win over Decatur.

Saturday, Battle Ground showed all the qualities that prove it belongs among the state’s top 16 teams next weekend in Richland.

For starters, there was great pitching. Freshman Mika Concannon allowed two hits, no runs, no walks and struck out six over the final six innings of Battle Ground’s eight-inning win over South Kitsap.

“Mika coming in as a freshman, she was so composed,” senior Hailey Ferguson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Senior Zoey Hughes then shut down Decatur, allowing five hits, no walks and striking out six.

There was also great defense. Battle Ground made no errors against South Kitsap and several nice defensive plays, including a sliding catch by right fielder Candice Adams to end the game.

That stellar defense continued against Decatur. Two errors proved insignificant as the Gators didn’t score until a sixth-inning solo home run.

“When I know the ball could be hit wherever and somebody is going to make the play, it really helps,” Hughes said. “I can throw any pitch and work whatever I want. I know my team is going to have my back.”

There was also clutch hitting. South Kitsap pitcher Kamdyn Haggerty allowed just two hits, one of those a single by Seyah Lindersmith that, along with two Wolves errors, saw the Tigers load the bases with one out in the eighth inning.

Senior Makenzy Newton came on to pinch hit and lifted a sacrifice fly to deep left that scored Lainey McMullen to put the Tigers ahead 2-1.

Though Haggerty kept the Tigers offense in check, Battle Ground’s hitters stayed patient and poised with the game on the line.

“Everyone comes up to the plate knowing they’re going to get their pitch,” Ferguson said. “We act as a team that when we come back into the dugout, we let everyone know what we saw. We don’t let pitchers fluster us.”

Within 20 minutes of beating South Kitsap, the Tigers kept rolling by scoring three runs in the first inning against Decatur. Newton hit a two-out RBI single followed by an Adams double.

The Tigers pushed the lead to 6-0 in the third inning as Newton notched her second RBI single. She finished 2 for 4.

Ferguson went 3 for 4, Hughes added two hits and Jenna Crabtree went 2 for 4 with a double.

The season could have ended Saturday for Ferguson, Hughes, Newton, Crabtree, Adams and fellow senior Hannah Boyett.

Instead, the Tigers are headed to the state tournament feeling as good about themselves as they have all season.

“I’m honestly super excited for this team,” Ferguson said. “This is the first week we’ve came together and seen all of our girls act as a family. It warms my heart.”

Skyview wins title, stays unbeaten

As the showers intensified, Skyview continued to rain down hits.

The Storm won the District 3/4 title Saturday, beating Kentwood 11-4 in the championship game after topping Olympia 15-7 in the semifinals.

The weather turned wet and cold near the end of Skyview’s semifinal win. That didn’t slow a Storm team that outscored opponents 40-14 in four bi-district games and improved to 22-0 this season.

It’s the first bi-district title for anyone on this Skyview team, one that will be among the favorites at the Class 4A state tournament next weekend.

“Ever since my freshman year we knew we had a shot,” junior infielder Addy Harmier said. “With this weather we didn’t know if we’d get it in. But our pitchers did amazing controlling the ball.”

Harmier blasted a three-run home run in a nine-run first inning against Olympia. She followed that with three hits against Kentwood.

“We know we can hit,” Harmier said. “We spent a lot of this week hitting. We had confidence in each other and our abilities.”

Maddie Milhorn went 8 for 8 with seven RBI over Saturday’s two games. The Skyview ace pitched the first two innings of the semifinal and the final three innings of the title game after Avery Henderson pitched four solid innings.

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Kentwood (17-3) did not pitch its Arizona-bound ace Sarah Wright in the championship.

Lainey Phillips went 3 for 3 and Emma Kauffman hit a two-run homer against Olympia (19-4). Taylor Lies went 3 for 4 in the title game and 2 for 2 in the semifinals.

After reaching the 4A state title game two years ago, Skyview is hoping for a better finish than last year’s first-day exit.

“We just need to stay together as one,” Lies said. “Go into it not like we know we’re going to win, but play every game as it’s our last.”