The W.F. West Bearcats started their season with just three girls who had played in a varsity game. They ended it with a district championship.
The Bearcats used a five-run second inning, fueled by senior Alisha Anderson’s grand slam, to vault to a 9-1 victory over league rival Rochester and claim the 2B District 4 title Thursday at Recreation Park in Chehalis.
It was a rewarding end to a season that almost never began due to the pandemic, one year removed from losing the entire 2020 season because of it.
“Just to be here is a little surreal,” W.F. West coach Caty Lieseke said. “It’s been our goal the whole season but we did it, we ran the table.”
W.F. West did it with a team loaded with underclassmen, including eight sophomores, and only two seniors. The average age of the Bearcats is 15.7 years old.
“To bring some young kids in and say, ‘This is how we play, this is Bearcat fastpitch,’ it’s fantastic,” Lieseke said.
W.F. West ended its season with a flawless 16-0 record, and while its semifinal match was a tight 4-2 victory over Greater Saint Helens League champion Ridgefield, the title game against Rochester was never in question.
The Bearcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, starting with sophomore shortstop Saige Brindle’s two-run double. Brindle drove in another run in the top of the second with a sac-fly to score leadoff hitter Lena Fragner to make it 4-1.
Then Anderson smoked a fastball over the center field fence for a grand salami that put W.F. West up 8-1 and stole any momentum the Warriors previously had.
Anderson scored one more insurance run in the top of the seventh to close out the scoring.
“It feels great,” said W.F. West junior ace Kamy Dacus, who finished with nine strikeouts against Rochester. “We didn’t get to play last year, so to get it this year is really good… our first two innings, we came out really hard, firing on offense and defense.”
It marks the first district title for the Bearcats since 2018. They finished second in state in 2019.
Rochester ends its season 12-5 overall after finishing second in the 2A Evergreen Conference.
“My expectations were so high,” Rochester coach Tiffany Garcia said. “They’re ridiculously high, especially for the team we have. It’s tough.”
The Warriors took a 14-0 win over Black Hills and a wild, exciting 6-5 walk-off victory over Tumwater in the 2A EvCo playoffs to advance to the district semifinals.
There, Rochester easily handled GSHL champion Ridgefield, taking an 11-3 victory to advance to the title game against W.F. West.
Five seniors played their final game for the Warriors: Faith Kennedy, Kiyah Kennedy, Sam Moceri, Madi Bates and Liz Phelps.
“It’s been a tough year for the seniors, all around,” Garcia said. “I’ll remember them for trying to make everything work. It’s going to be tough not having them around.”
W.F. West is sending two seniors out on top in Alisha Anderson and Anahbelle Lopez.
“We’re lucky we got to play a whole season,” Lieseke said. “We’re lucky we got to be out here. To play at the highest level on the last day is always what you want to do.”
W.F. West 4, Columbia River 2
Alisha Anderson hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, and W.F. West held on in the seventh frame to beat Columbia River, 4-2, in the district semifinals.
Kamy Dacus struck out 12 for the Bearcats, scattering seven hits and holding the Chieftains scoreless until the sixth inning. Columbia River used a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly to take its 2-0 lead in the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, however, Brielle Etter tripled and scored on a ground ball from Dacus that turned into an error. Saige Brindle also reached on an error, and two batters later Anderson launched a shot to center field to put the Bearcats up 4-2.
Dacus then got a pop fly to the Chieftains’ first batter of the seventh inning and struck out the next two to end the game.
Anderson finished 2 for 3 and Dacus added a double for the Bearcats.