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The IssaquahPress



Wednesday April 9, 2014

Spartans subdue Eagles in conference opener By Neil Pierson npierson@ The fastpitch rivalry between the Issaquah Eagles and Skyline Spartans always has intensity, and last week’s clash to open Class 4A KingCo Conference play was no different. Facing off against former teammates Winter Ridgeway and Tia Hedman, the Spartans used a fourth-inning surge and rallied past the Eagles, 5-3, on April 1 at Skyline High School. Caroline Bowman, one of six freshmen starters for Skyline, was superb in leading the comeback. She used her fastball and rise ball effectively to strike out 11 hitters, while limiting the Eagles to five hits and no walks. Spartans coach Ken Brooks said Bowman responded well after throwing one mistake pitch — a second-inning fastball that Ridgeway belted over the center-field fence for the game’s first run. “She did make a bad pitch to Winter, and she said it was her,” Brooks said. “I take credit for the bad ones if she hits her spot, and she takes credit for the ones that she doesn’t. “That’s pretty big in a kid that will do that, that accepts her role and knows that (mistakes) are going to happen … but owns up to it and moves on. She’s just quality. I can’t say enough good things about her.” Bowman, who has previous experience with a Seattle-based select team,

Photos by Greg Farrar

said she tried to bounce back after Ridgeway’s homer. “I started off pretty good, and I thought it was going good, and then I just left one right over the middle and she took it,” Bowman said. “But I came back the next inning, finished strong, I think.” Issaquah increased its lead to 2-0 in the third as Sydney Schultz scorched a leadoff double and scored on Julianna Bernado’s sacrifice bunt. But momentum took a 180-degree turn in the fourth as Skyline benefited from some poor Issaquah defense and got its first hits off Ridgeway, who also pitched well. The junior allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five. Ridgeway’s fielding error on a Lauren Lo grounder got the rally started. Bow-

At left, Caroline Bowman, Skyline High School freshman, retires three Issaquah batters in the seventh inning to round out her complete-game pitching effort April 1 in the Spartans’ 5-3 victory. Above, Lauren Lo (11), Skyline High School freshman shortstop, reaches home on a wild pitch as Issaquah pitcher Winter Ridgeway comes in to the plate in the bottom of the fourth. Senior batter Riley Davidson watches the run come in.

By Greg Farrar

Michelle Fowler, Issaquah High School junior, advances teammate Sydney Schultz (background) to third base on a sacrifice hit in the third inning. man doubled to deep right field, and a wild pitch scored Lo to trim the Spartans’ deficit to one. The Eagles threw out the tying run at the plate for the second out, but got a bit unlucky when Camille

Goo looped an infield hit between three players, tying the score at 2-2. Two more wild pitches followed and, suddenly, Skyline had a 4-2 lead. It was a frustrating series of events for Eagles

coach Ron Hatlen. “The teams were even, so you can’t really give them extra outs,” he said. Issaquah got one back in the sixth as Bernado singled and scored, thanks to a fielder’s choice groundout and two wild pitches. But Skyline restored its two-run lead in the bottom half of the inning. Riley Davidson drilled a leadoff single, moved up on Annika Hildebrand’s bunt, and scored on Goo’s sacrifice fly to center, barely beating a strong throw to the plate. Bowman wrapped things up by striking out Issaquah’s Kylie Bevell and Danya Vilhelmsen in the seventh. She said it was nice to see the Spartans adjust after falling behind early. “We just had to start talking, getting in the pitcher’s head, and it seemed to work,” she said.

“That one inning was big.” Brooks said the Spartans were excited play against Ridgeway and Hedman. “Facing two ex-teammates, it’s kind of a big deal,” he said, “and I think the girls wanted to make a statement, not to Issaquah, but just to the league, that everyone thinks just because we have a bunch of freshmen we’re not going to be any good.” Meanwhile, Hatlen wasn’t overly concerned with the loss and indicated it was part of the typical growing pains for a squad that features only two seniors. “We had one inning where we moved our runners like we needed to,” he said. “We did what we needed to win, we just didn’t win. We’re young, so we’ll take a learning experience off it.”

Liberty falls to Juanita, 6-5 Sloppy defense plagues Patriots By Christina Corrales-Toy As second-year Liberty High School fastpitch coach Zach Bartholomew analyzed the Patriots’ 6-5 loss to Juanita on April 2, he pointed to one inning. In a game of numbers, one sloppy inning is all it takes to seal the fate of a team, and it was the top of Liberty’s third inning that proved costly. “We had one inning cost us three runs on two errors, and then we made some base-running mistakes that cost us another two runs,” Bartholomew said. “If we can just cut that down, games like that, we walk away ahead four to five runs.” Take away the defensively clumsy third inning, and the Patriots would’ve earned the victory against one of the league’s tougher teams. Juanita jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, as Liberty pitcher Sydney Hopper shook off the rust, after battling an illness the week prior. Hopper rebounded nicely, notching six strikeouts over seven innings, and consistently getting the team out of bases-loaded jams. Only two of Juanita’s six runs were earned. Liberty tacked on two runs in the second that began with a double by Hopper. Both she and third baseman Olivia Kutzke scored in the inning. It tied the game, 2-2, before Juanita’s three-run third inning, marked by a sloppy

By Greg Farrar

Sydney Hopper, Liberty High School pitcher, battles during the sixth inning against Juanita on April 2, claiming six strikeouts during the game in a 6-5 loss. Liberty defense. “We’ve been practicing and preaching the same thing. You’ve got a pitcher out there battling, you’ve got to make the groundball, flyball outs,” Bartholomew said of the defensive miscues, most of which occurred in the infield. The Patriots’ offense got two of the runs back in the fourth inning, but it could’ve been more, Bartholomew said, as the runners missed some chances to advance on the Juanita catcher’s passed balls. “We just lost some aggressiveness on the bases,” he said. Juanita got the insurance run it needed in the top of the seventh, before squashing a Liberty rally in the bottom of the inning. The Patriots scored one run, and had the tying run on third at the end of the game, but ultimately fell

short. That display of perseverance showed some of the old-school toughness that Liberty sports teams often possess, Bartholomew said. He would know, too, since he was a member of the 2003 Liberty baseball team that won a 3A state title. “Us old-school Liberty people that have been around Liberty for a long time know that Liberty’s tough,” he said. “We preached that last year, and they’re starting to figure that out. They’re battling to the end.” Kutzke led the team in hitting, going 2-4 with a double, an RBI and a run. Maddy O’Connor came up with the big RBI double that brought the score within one in the bottom of the seventh. “It was a pretty solid effort, just two or three plays where we made mistakes,”

Bartholomew said. Field conditions It’s impossible not to notice the new soundtrack that greets visitors at Liberty’s softball field. While the Issaquah softball team has the sounds of gunfire, thanks to the nearby shooting range, Liberty athletes and fans are now treated to the sounds of construction from an adjacent housing development. Those familiar with Liberty’s field will remember that a forest of trees stood on the other side of the fence along the third base line. Those are gone, replaced by under-construction houses and streets. A new cement wall now juts out into the foul-ball territory in left field as part of the development’s construction. It makes Bartholomew feel uneasy, he said, worrying about his

By Greg Farrar

Hannah McMullin, Liberty High School batter, hits an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning against Juanita. girls’ safety. The Liberty softball field, in general, is in a state of disrepair. The wooden dugouts are marked with holes big enough to put a hand through, while the plastic banner bearing the team’s state, district and league accomplishments is so faint and worn, it’s almost as if those things never happened. A nonworking scoreboard sits in the same outfield where a makeshift outfield fence is all that separates the softball team from the javelin throwers in right field. “We’re juggling practice with watching out for jav-

elin. It’s just a nightmare,” Bartholomew said. What irks coaches even more is that just a stone’s throw away sits the Liberty baseball field, complete with its artificial turf and functioning scoreboard. The Liberty softball team is supposed to get turf, too, though when is anyone’s guess, as the project keeps getting delayed, Bartholomew said. “The biggest problem for me is safety stuff,” he said. “We’ve got a kid out right now with a concussion because of this temp fence that we have. She hit the fence and landed on her face.”