Rainier forces Colton out of the playoffs
Rainier—Colton had lost its league playoff game to Blanchet Catholic 13-3 on Friday, May 18. The resulting shift in ranking landed the then 10-11 Lady Vikings in a matchup with Lewis & Clark League champions Rainier in the opening round of the 3A softball state tournament. Ranked 14th heading into the game, Colton looked to pull off the upset, but it was not to be. In five innings, the Lady Vikings were ousted from the bracket 10-0 on Wednesday, May 23.
"They made some excellent decision making," Colton head coach Jim Brochis said after the game. "We're the type of team that unfortunately we're still gelling. When we do make these little mistakes…when we play clean, we play decent and we're competitive. When we make the little mistakes that forces our pitcher to throw 10, 12 more pitches, it becomes a little more stressful for the pitcher."
It was a tough afternoon for freshman pitcher Katelyn Dutton who battled with Rainier's offense from the mound. Dutton would throw six, seven, sometimes eight pitches per batter. After the game though, she took the extra time on the mound as an opportunity to grow in her position.
"I think it just makes me a stronger pitcher being able to do that because it happens a lot in college," Dutton said. "I think that just makes me a stronger pitcher to get a hit and get them out, or strike them out when they've fouled so many."
Offensively, the Lady Vikings could not seem to find their rhythm. The team picked up no runs over the course of the game, and only registered two hits in the final four innings of the game. Defensively though the team showed moments of real composure and solid decision making.
In the bottom of the second inning, Rainier senior Aspen Norman hit a popfly into right field that was fielded by freshman Madelynne Pierce. Pierce then threw it over to catcher Courtney Weinberger who caught Rainier's lead runner between third and home. Weinberger tossed the ball off to senior Brooklyn Olsen who got the tag for the double play.
"I was kind of taking it one step at a time," Weinberger said. "I didn't even process it in my brain at first that she was not at third. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, she's not even at third,' and I threw it and it worked out and I was glad. We needed that at that point."
"I saw her running, and I knew the throw was going to be there," Brooklyn Olsen said. "I knew she was going to be out one way or another. I was mostly really excited that we made that play because we don't usually get the chance to practice them, and I've always wanted to execute it in a game, and finally we did and it was really exciting to get a good play like that in our final game."
The Lady Vikings kept Rainier scoreless in the second and fourth innings, but by the time the fifth inning was drawing to a close, the Columbians had seven runs on the board.
The final nail in the coffin came from Rainier freshman Reese Schimmel, who hit a home run with two runners on base to bring the score to 10 in the bottom of the fifth.
It was a tough end for the Lady Vikings. The team posted a 3-9 non-league record, but had the second best league record behind PacWest champion Scio with a 7-3 tally.
For lone senior Madison, the season ended in the exact spot that her first foray into the post season ended four years ago as a freshman. Colton was defeated by Rainier in the first round of the playoffs in the 2014-2015 season 11-0.
"It was weird to be back, but really exciting because I was hoping for a shot of redemption or improve our score which we did," Olsen said. "It was really fun, and I'm glad it came back around and I got to end things the way I started."
Brochis will have his work cut out finding someone to replace Olsen at third base. The senior was not only a leader on the field, but a hard worker in the classroom.
"One of my philosophies is that the third baseman has to be a valedictorian or a salutatorian, so she's a valedictorian," Brochis said. "I need to make sure that I get somebody that develops that same mentality of going for everything and being aggressive. We're going to miss her batting because she puts all she has into it."
Despite the loss, Brochis sees it as a learning experience for his team. The Lady Vikings were laden with freshmen, a lot of whom had little experience in the game before this year. Going forward, Brochis believes the lesson will serve them well down the road.
"I do have the eight freshman and only the one senior, so I think it was a really good learning moment," Brochis said.