Mariners match last season's 2-2 record at state

SELAH – Sehome softball’s bid for a state trophy fell one win short for the second-straight year as the Mariners were eliminated in an 8-6 loss to Tumwater on Saturday at the 2A state championships at Carlon Park on Saturday.

Sehome (18-6) tied for fifth place for the second consecutive year, this time with Lynden, as the Mariners went 2-2 at the state tourney Friday and Saturday.

“For this crew, what we were expecting and what we ended up with were two different things; not totally, but they were different,” Sehome coach Jim Emerson said. “These kids were so resilient that it was fun; it was fun to get there. It’s always hard when you’re losing some kids that are important to your program, but that’s part of the cycle.”

Savannah Smith 2

Sehome senior Savannah Smith pitching against Selah in the 2A state championships on Friday in Selah, Washington. (Eric Trent/Lynden Tribune)

The Mariners won the district title over Lakewood a week ago and had hopes of winning their first state title in program history. It looked like a real possibility after the Mariners edged Tumwater 7-6 in the opener on Friday, then took down Selah 6-2 later that day to advance to the semifinals.

Then they ran into a buzzsaw, also known as Olivia Grey, Woodland’s star pitcher and Portland State University signee. Grey struck out 65 batters in just 26 innings and four games at state.

Grey struckout 19 Sehome batters and allowed just two hits in the Mariners’ 5-0 semifinal loss. Woodland would go on to win back-to-back championships later that day, while Sehome had to face Tumwater in a rematch.

Natalie Zender

Sehome senior Natalie Zender lays down a bunt against Woodland on Saturday in the 2A state semifinals on Saturday in Selah, Washington. (Eric Trent/Lynden Tribune)

A win would have guaranteed the Mariners a top-4 finish and a trophy, but Tumwater was out for revenge. The Thunderbirds homered on just the second pitch of the game. Then it was a back and forth battle.

Sehome tied it up at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, then Tumwater retook the lead in the third inning at 3-1. The Mariners tied it up at 3-3 in the fourth, then regained the lead with two more runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to make it 6-4. The Thunderbirds tied it back up in the sixth, then retook the lead for good with two runs in the top of the seventh and held on for the win.

“It’s pretty good with kind of a ragtag bunch of kids who didn’t know when to quit,” Emerson said. “The kids had bought into the whole system and they came through. We just ran out of bullets at the end.”

Four Sehome seniors played their final game for the Mariners: Savannah Smith, Parker McAtee, Megan Hall and Natalie Zender.

Maryellen Burfiend

Sehome's Maryellen Burfiend swings against Selah in the 2A state championships on Friday. (Eric Trent/Lynden Tribune)

“They’ve been a huge, huge part of the program the last four years,” Emerson said. “They’re good kids. With any group you have your ups and down, but when it counted they came together and took us on a really fun ride the past two weeks. It’s heartbreaking at the end to go out this way but a good ride.”

Their time battling together on the field the past four years helped the group of seniors form friendships off the field, as well, Smith said.

“We’ve been together for so long and we’ve been playing select together,” Smith said. “The camaraderie of especially the upperclassmen, I’m going to miss them a lot. We’ve been together so long. We know each other so well.” 

This group of seniors led Sehome to state three consecutive years. The Mariners were undefeated in postseason play entering the state playoffs this season, outscoring opponents 47-6. Sehome was on a six-game win streak before losing their final two contests this season.

Eric Trent covers sports for the Lynden Tribune.