Blaine softball’s state championship run ended May 27 in the second round of the consolation bracket after the Lady Borderites lost 10-0 to eventual state champs Montesano in the semifinal earlier in the day.
“It’s never the outcome that you want, unless you’re number one,” Blaine head coach Sean Miller said. “But under the circumstances, I think [the girls] represented well.”
Coming into the tournament as bi-district champions, Blaine was the fourth seed and got a bye in the opening round. The Lady Borderites beat the Riverside Rams 3-1 in the quarter final May 26 with a star performance from junior pitcher Emersyn Bakker on the mound and at the plate. She had 16 strikeouts and allowed the Rams only five hits in the game. Bakker also went two-for-two at the plate, pushing in two runs in the first inning and one run in the fifth inning.
The Lady Borderites moved onto the semifinals to face No. 1 seed Montesano, where the Bulldogs showed why they were the favorites. Miller said Montesano played a version of small ball – which consists of bunts, slaps and running the bases aggressively – really well. They put the ball in places Blaine’s defense couldn’t get to, he said.
Montesano was also superb defensively, allowing only two hits to Blaine seniors Piper Nissen and Makenna Wright. The game finished 10-0. It was the first time the Lady Borderites didn’t score a run all season. Blaine lost to Montesano 4-2 during the regular season.
“They were even better at state than when we played them the first time,” Miller said.
Montesano went on to beat No. 2 seed Royal City 8-2 in the championship final May 28. Blaine dropped down to the consolation round, where the team was eliminated after losing 8-3 to No. 6 seed Deer Park. Deer Park went on to finish third, winning the consolation final 10-3.
“Deer Park was a team we should’ve beaten but I think we just ran out of steam,” Miller said.
Although it was a tough way to go out, Miller said he couldn’t be more proud of his team. The Lady Borderites were conference and district champions and finished their season with a 22-4 overall record. Four members were also recognized as all conference. Miller was named coach of the year. Bakker was named defensive player of the year, and Nissen and Wright received first team honors.
The last time softball went to state was in 2009.
Miller thanked the community and parents for their support, not just this season but for the last four years. Graduating seniors include Nissen, Wright, Brooklyn Henderson and Alyssa Bacon, who broke her hand at districts and missed the end of the season. Miller said this year’s team was a special group and that he couldn’t have asked for more tenacity, heart and grit.
“I was surprised,” he said about Blaine’s season overall. “I wasn’t surprised that we were competing at a high level but I was surprised how long the team sustained that high level. I can’t be more proud of these kids’ accomplishments, because it’s been a long time coming. And a lot of them have worked really hard to get here.”
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