The Blaine girls softball team came up short at the tri-district tournament by Mount Baker, ending a season in which the Borderites bonded as team and had the best win-loss record in their division.
In its regular season, Blaine won 17 games and lost nine. For head coach Alisa Burk, that record is proof of a team that worked hard to improve from years past.
“Two years ago we went 1–19 and last year we went 6–14. To go from that to how we played this year … there’s no better way to show we had a tremendous year,” Burk said.
At the tri-district tournament, the Borderites won their first game against Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) May 18. Lexi Greguski batted 2–3 with two runs and Selena Pai hit 3–4 with three RBI and a double. Ashley Bolick pitched three and a third innings and Alexis McElwain pitched the final three and two-thirds innings.
“We were pretty evenly matched overall,” Burk said. “We were able to pack on two more hits than they were, and we held on to the lead for the win.” Blaine won the game 6–5.
The win sent the Borderites to a second round game against Mount Baker on May 18. In past games, Blaine had earned a 5–0 win and a 4–1 loss against the Mountaineers.
In the tri-district matchup, Burk and her team strategized that Mount Baker would be expecting to face Bolick, who had pitched the two prior games against the Mountaineers. McElwain, a fast-pitching right-hander, started the game, but Bolick relieved her after the Mountaineers scored two runs in the first inning.
The Borderites tried to match those two runs, getting runners on base hitting into outs before sending anyone around to home plate. In the third, the Mountaineers scored five more runs, and for the rest of the game the Borderites struggled to recover.
“We got seven hits, but we left a lot of runners stranded on base,” Burk said. “We got into some threatening situations but then we would hit straight shots and they got a couple double plays to end the innings.” The final score was 7–0.
In looking at how the postseason played out, the takeaway is that teams pretty much need to place first or second in the district tournament to make it to state, Burk said. “Otherwise, you have a pretty tough road ahead of you.”
Burk said her team’s work ethic and accord impressed her the most throughout the season.
“I think our girls worked harder this season than pretty much any other team out there. From my perspective and from the perspective of other coaches and parents, these girls are a family. They all hang out together on and off the field, and it shows in how they play the game. They build each other up and they criticize each other when they need to,” Burk said.
Looking ahead to next year, Burk said the team would lose two seniors, Bolick and Margaret Williams.
“They’re going to be pretty tough shoes to fill. Ashley (Bolick) carried us most of the year pitching wise, and it’s definitely going to be tough to replace that caliber of pitching,” Burk said.
McElwain and Hannah Kiele will be holding down the mound next year.
“They’ll take us a long way and our defense and our bats will take us the rest of the way,” Burk said. “I’ve got quite a few juniors who will be a huge part of the team next year. You look at the teams that do well in the postseason, and they’re pretty much all seniors, so I’m looking forward to having that seniority and maturity on the team.”