LACEY — In this season of firsts, why not finish first in the Class 3A state softball tournament?
Glacier Peak takes that mindset into the semifinals Saturday at the Regional Athletic Complex. After coming from behind Friday to beat both Prairie, 5-4 in eight innings, and Juanita, 5-2, the Grizzlies (17-8) are playing with no fear — even though their next opponent is unbeaten Enumclaw (27-0), ranked No. 20 nationally by MaxPreps.
“We want to win state,” senior pitcher Callie Bircher said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”
Attaining that goal seemed a bit unlikely when the Grizzlies — here for the first time in school history — trailed traditional-power Prairie 4-0 through five innings in their opening game, and didn’t have a hit. But they got on the board with three runs in the sixth, tied it in the seventh and won it in the eighth on Rebecca Willis’ run-scoring single.
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“We have a team full of fighters,” Bircher said. “We go out there and don’t give up.”
Glacier Peak certainly could have packed it in after starting the season 1-3 and 6-7. But it’s all about winning when it counts, and the Grizzlies ride a seven-game winning streak into the 9 a.m. showdown with Enumclaw.
“We’ve kind of caught our stride,” coach Caitlin Nies said. “We’ve been really emphasizing attitude, effort, focus and bringing that to every single pitch, every single game and not worry so much about the little things.”
In the quarterfinals, Aimee Richardson tagged Bircher for a two-run home run in the second inning, but Juanita was shut out the rest of the way. Aurora Ellison’s solo homer in the fourth broke a 2-2 tie and the Grizzlies added two insurance runs in the fifth.
Enumclaw got off to a bit of a shaky start, leading Holy Names just 5-4 in the fourth before pulling away for a 10-4 victory. Sophomore ace Quinn Breidenbach said she had trouble adjusting to a slick ball. All four Holy Names runs were earned — just one less than she had given up all season to that point.
But she made the Cougars pay with her bat, smashing a double and a three-run homer. She also cranked a three-run bomb in the 13-2 quarterfinal win over University of Spokane.
“I understand that I have to do my part in the (pitching) circle,” Breidenbach said, “but just coming back with my bat, I really want to make a difference there, too.”
Kamiakin (22-2) is still in pursuit of an unprecedented third straight title after wins over Liberty, 12-6, and Ferndale, 9-2. The Braves’ offense is as advertised as they pounded 28 hits (including three home runs) on the day. They will play Shadle Park of Spokane (18-9) in the other 9 a.m. semifinal. The championship game is set for 3:30 p.m.
Juanita (18-9), which beat Columbia River 5-2, bounced back from the Glacier Peak loss to eliminate Mountain View of Vancouver, 4-1, and still has a chance for a trophy.
And in the wildest game of the day, Holy Names stayed alive with a 14-13 victory over Ferndale on Claire McCarthy’s walkoff, two-run homer. The Cougars (20-7), who eliminated Meadowdale earlier, were down 10-0 after the first inning.
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