KENMORE — Wearing the Woodinville softball uniform brings certain expectations.
Like winning, and expecting to win.
Coach Dani Weir had to remind her young players of that tradition at the beginning of the season, when there was barely a whisper about getting back to the Class 4A state tournament – where the Falcons have prospered the past three seasons.
They started to believe at just the right time.
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“Now we know we’re going to be that team,” freshman pitcher Olivia Riener said.
And they’re going back to state, clinching another berth with an 11-1 victory over Newport of Bellevue in the semifinals of the KingCo 4A tournament Monday at Inglemoor High.
Woodinville (17-4) plays Redmond (16-3) for the KingCo championship Thursday at Inglemoor at 7 p.m.
It was an 8-7 victory over Redmond to close out the regular season last Wednesday that gave the Falcons momentum going in the league tournament, where they’ve won both games by the 10-run mercy rule.
“That boosted our confidence,” Weir said.
That wasn’t shaken when Newport took a 1-0 lead Monday on freshman Ellie Stegman’s first career home run in the top of the third. Teammates told Riener not to worry — they’d have to score to win anyway.
Boy, did they, racking up six runs in the bottom of the third and four in the fourth. Riener helped herself with a pair of singles, driving in three runs as the Falcons earned their fifth consecutive trip to the title game.
Newport had just one other hit Monday, a bunt single, and committed four errors. The Knights (12-8) play a loser-out game Tuesday. Skyline (14-7) meets Issaquah in another elimination bout Tuesday. Issaquah survived Monday with a 14-9, nine-inning victory over Bothell at Woodinville.
Redmond 6, Skyline 1
The Mustangs have a mountain of young talent, but it was their two seniors who stood tall as they fulfilled a dream of qualifying for the state tournament that seemed highly unlikely two seasons ago — when Redmond won six games and finished well out of the playoffs.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” said third baseman Elaine Wang, who had a pair of run-scoring singles. “We never believed we could be here two years ago. It wasn’t even an option.”
Pitcher Emily Rockhill, the other senior, missed that season with a back injury, but helped them become contenders last year.
“We came out and made the playoffs, but we just didn’t finish as strong as we could,” she said. “This year, I just feel it.”
Rockhill was feeling it in the circle Monday as she scattered three hits and struck out seven.
The Mustangs bunched three of their six hits to take a 3-0 lead. Wang and junior Taty Forbes each had run-scoring singles, while sophomore Kaija Gibson smacked an RBI triple.