State Softball: Tumwater obliterates Aberdeen to reach 2A semifinals


SELAH – When the Class 2A state softball tournament bracket was released last weekend, the Evergreen Conference was potentially getting a head-to-head matchup.

Tumwater and Aberdeen were on a collision course for a fifth meeting this spring. The former won the first two contests, the latter grabbed the last two.

“We were so excited,” T-Birds catcher Jaime Haase said. “We knew that if we played them again, we would win.”

Friday turned into a one-sided affair.

Home runs by Megan Paull and two by Haase plus a shutout from Ella Ferguson, sixth-seeded Tumwater thrashed the third-seeded Bobcats 11-0 in six innings to clinch its spot in the semifinals at Carlon Park.

“We just wanted to come out and put a lot of runs on the board,” Thunderbirds head coach Ashley Lupinski said. “We’re just hot right now.”

It sets up a date against North Kitsap on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., a battle between the last two state champions. Tumwater met the Vikings in the opening round of state two years ago, an 18-0 clinic.

North Kitsap has had to claw its way to the semis, winning two games by a combined five runs.

“We’re out for it,” Ferguson stated. “We don’t care about their rank, we don’t care who they’ve played and who they've beat. They have to face us, they have to beat us and that's what's going to be a problem for them.”

Paull broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth, taking a Lilly Camp pitch over the fence for a three-run home run. Haase launched a two-run shot in the fifth and Zoe Fields ripped a double that plated two.

Erica Schock put the finishing touches on the rout with a two-run bomb to make it an 11-run lead.

“We’re doing everything right,” Haase said. “Especially against Anika (Hollingsworth), we laid off the high pitches. We swung at strikes and hit the ball hard every time.”

Paull hit a grand slam in the T-Birds 14-0 victory over 11th-seeded Ephrata in the opening round and Haase deposited two balls over the fence. Lupinski referred to Paull as their “Miss May.”

Since the calendar flipped, she’s notched at least a hit in over half of their contests.

Add in Haase being red hot at the dish and their offense has reached a new level. Marissa LaPraim recorded two hits for Tumwater.

“It is a game-changer for us,” Lupinski said. “We’ve hit (Camp and Hollingsworth) well, but not that well. When you play a team five times, the fifth time you should be hitting them better.”

Ferguson settled into her groove and dazzled by tossing a complete game, one-hitter and notching nine strikeouts. The junior and University of Nevada commit threw under 80 pitches for the second time in as many games.

She fired a no-hitter versus the Tigers.

“They expect me to throw outside. I have to give diversity, I have to use every single trick in my bag,” Ferguson said. “Getting the inside corner, getting the up, getting the out.”

Despite Tumwater (20-5) losing four times over the last month-plus, its players and coaches have not been all that pleased. It escaped against Centralia twice, were blanked in the league game by W.F. West and lost two nail-biters to Aberdeen.

Missing state for the second year in a row was not an option for a group that was hungry to get back to Selah.

“We’ve always been the team to beat,” Ferguson said. “We are Tumwater and we’re going as far as we can.”

Now, Tumwater is two wins away from a second state title in three years. It is brimming with confidence that the trophy will return to Thurston County.

“After league (play), we were ready ,” Haase stated. “I think we’ll come out on top.”