By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
The Baker junior girls state champion softball team bowed out of the divisional tournament in Mount Vernon, Wash., Wednesday with a 4-3, eight-inning loss to Everett, Wash.
But what a thrill the ride was.
A lot of these girls played 60 games this season, and at one point they lost 11 in a row, said assistant coach Bob Moon. But they never gave up. They worked hard to get where they did. They played with class the whole time, and thats the reason (manager) Brad (Payton) and I were so proud of them.
Tied at 2 going into extra innings, the Baker team pushed a run across in the top of the eighth. Sarah Wittich bunted her way aboard and went to second on Annie Hilderbrands base hit. Wittich then stole third and scored on Maggie Lindleys groundout.
We felt good at that point, Moon said, as the girls took the field in the bottom of the eighth. Things looked great.
Marissa Hanley, a control specialist who had pitched masterfully all tournament and hurled the entire game for Baker, took the circle for the bottom half of the eighth to try to earn a trip to the tournaments championship game again against Everett, which was unbeaten.
But thats when the wheels fell off for the Baker squad.
Everett scored the tying run with two outs on a double and an RBI single. Another base hit put runners on first and third, and a wild pitch scored the winning run.
They were disappointed, but they never hung their heads afterward, Moon said. They were upset with their mistakes, but their teammates were very supportive of them. After the game, the umpires commented on the girls great attitude.
Baker got on the scoreboard in the first inning. Jamie Moon led off the game with a bunt single and stole second. Amber Uriarte drove her home with a single.
Baker upped its lead to 2-0 in the second inning. Tara Wilson singled and Elizabeth Payton walked. Both players advanced on a passed ball, and Hanley drove Wilson home with a ground ball.
Hanley had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning. In the sixth, Everett touched her for two runs, which both scored as the result of an error.
Hanleys final pitching line: 8 innings, 5 hits, 3 walks. Not one of the Everett players hit the ball hard, Moon said: most of the hits were bloop singles.
She did a great job again, Moon said. She kept them off-balance and frustrated. She pitched a bunch of innings in a row of shutout ball throughout the tournament.
Moon said the disappointment felt by players and coaches was tempered by the fact that everyone was returning home Wednesday night.
The experience, he said, was well worth the time and expense.
This is a team that for Brad and I turned into our 11 daughters, he said. Theres no question theyre an awesome group.
Baker 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
Everett 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 4
Hanley and Wittich. Humphrey and Benoenti. WP Humphrey. LP Hanley
Baker hits Moon, Wittich, Uriarte 2, Hilderbrand, Wilson.