CENTRALIA — Aberdeen clawed and fought its way back from an early deficit against Chehalis, but a familiar script played out in the end on Friday afternoon.
After trailing 4-0 in the first inning, the Bobcats battled back to grab a 7-6 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning against the Bearcats. With the last at-bats, the reigning state 2A title holders and current Evergreen 2A champions scored twice to walk off with an 8-7 victory in the District IV 2A softball championship game at Borst Park in Centralia.
Chehalis (17-2) will take the district title and a No. 1 seed, while Aberdeen (14-9) will be a No. 2 seed, into next week’s state 2A softball tournament at Carlon Park in Selah. R.A. Long secured the district’s third and final berth with a 15-8 win over Centralia in the winner-to-state game.
The finish to this contest was eerily similar to Aberdeen’s seventh-inning loss to Chehalis in last week’s district baseball tournament. The difference, however, is that the Bobcats are still playing in softball and this game will give them confidence entering the state tourney.
“I’m proud of the girls, the way they fought back,” AHS head coach Jeff Timmons said. “Chehalis, they won the league, they’re the defending state champs and we’ve played them tough three out of four games this year. They’re a tough team. We’re excited about state next week. We played with Chehalis and I believe we can put on a great performance at state.”
Aberdeen came into the seventh inning three outs from its first-ever district softball title. This was remarkable in that the Bobcats trailed the Bearcats for most of the game until a five-run sixth inning flipped the lead.
Chehalis didn’t waste time in the seventh. Lead-off hitter Marissa Reynolds worked a full-count on AHS pitcher Grace Utto-Galarneau before slugging a solo home run to left-center field to tie the game.
Caitlin Reynolds followed the big fly with a triple down the left-field line, giving her a single shy of the cycle in the contest. After an infield conference with Coach Timmons, the Bobcats walked the bases loaded and brought the infield and outfield in to hold off the winning run.
Tessa Wollan, who homered twice to lead Chehalis to a state berth-clinching win over Centralia on Thursday, smashed a single into the right-center field gap to bring home Reynolds for the game-winning walk-off run.
A four-run first inning started the game off right for the league-champion Bearcats. All four runs came on bloop hits that found empty spaces and knocked out AHS starter Mo Donovan after only one-third of an inning. Utto-Galarneau came in in relief, got Aberdeen out of the inning without further damage and held Chehalis at bay to aid the Bobcats’ comeback.
“It is difficult at first, but once I got my mojo going, with the energy I got from the girls, it just pumped me up,” Utto-Galarneau said. “I really wanted to win today. That was my mindset today. We’re still going to state, though.”
Shannon Chesterman got Aberdeen on the board with a two-out, two-run double to center field in the fifth inning at 4-2. Chehalis moved back to a four-run lead on Reynolds’ two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth.
The five-run sixth inning brought the Bobcats back into the game and into the lead. However, the big hit came from Stephanie Boone, whose walk-off infield single against R.A. Long on Thursday gave Aberdeen its state berth.
With one out and Alexxi Timmons and Utto-Galarneau on base, Boone slugged a 1-0 pitch to left-center field. The ball hit the top of the fence and bounced over for a three-run home run.
“District time is Boone’s time,” Timmons said. “Two days in a row. She delivered a home run last year against Centralia to give us a state berth. This is what she lives for.”
Ericka Manwell’s double to left field one pitch after Boone’s home run knocked Chehalis starter Ali Graham out of the game. The Bobcats added three more hits off reliever Mattie Boucher, including a tying RBI double by Heather Dublanko and a go-ahead RBI single by Chesterman, for the lead.
Boucher survived the inning with Aberdeen stranding the bases loaded, setting up the dramatic finish.
Abe 000 025 0 — 7 12 0 Che 400 020 2 — 8 11 2
Donovan, Utto-Galarneau (1) and Timmons; Graham, Boucher (6) and Reynolds.
RBI: Aberdeen — Chesterman 3, Boone 3, Dublanko. Chehalis — M. Reynolds, C. Reynolds 3, Lewis, Grandorff, Wollan 2. Three hits: Aberdeen — Chesterman. Chehalis — C. Reynolds. Two hits: Aberdeen — Utto-Galarneau. Chehalis — M. Reynolds, Lewis, Wollan. Home runs: Aberdeen — Boone. Chehalis — M. Reynolds, C. Reynolds. Triple: Chehalis — C. Reynolds. Doubles: Aberdeen — Utto-Galarneau, Chesterman, Manwell, Dublanko 2. Chehalis — C. Reynolds.
Winning pitcher — Boucher (two strikeouts). Losing pitcher — Utto-Galarneau (three strikeouts, seven walks).