Though it gave both higher-seeded teams a larger test than its seed, the No. 15 Centralia Community College softball team fell in both of its NWAC contests May 19 to No. 2 Walla Wall, 14-12, and No. 10 Chemeketa, 13-7, to end its season.
The Trailblazers, seeded second to last, nearly completed an upset in the first round of the tournament over the Warriors, grabbing an early lead after feeling slighted that the Warriors sent out their No. 2 pitcher against them to start.
“I think that immediately lit a fire under us,” Blazers coach Payton Pocklington said. “I don’t think they expected that from us at all, being the 15-seed. We played a very tough back and forth game.”
The teams traded leads until the sixth, when the Blazers put six on the board and the Warriors responded with four to tie it at 12-12 heading into the final frame. After putting up a goose egg in the top half of the inning, Walla Walla’s Kylie Bennett homered for the second time in the game to walk it off, 14-12.
Kiyah Kennedy got the start in the circle for the Blazers, pitching 4 ⅓ innings and allowing five earned runs. Sydney Yates went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs, and Emma Eko also added a solo shot home run.
In the second game in the consolation round, Centralia just didn’t come out with the same energy it did in the first game, falling to Chemeketa 13-7.
“We came out flat,” Pocklington said. “I don’t think we were completely over the previous game’s outcome. It was a tough loss.”
The Blazers made uncharacteristic mistakes and the wheels fell off starting in the fifth inning, when the Storm separated. Centralia walked nine batters and had eight errors in the loss.
“We were done,” Pocklington said. “The girls were tired and did not have any fight left in them. The girls gave up a little and it was very disappointing.”
Yates again hit a home run for the Blazers with three RBIs, and Casey Wentz went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, but it wasn’t enough to keep the season going for CC.
“Not at all the way we wanted to end the season, but it was an okay year for us,” Pocklington said. “We surprised a lot of people and we played very well at times. I am excited to continue to grow the program and take our team further into NWAC’s next year.”