ELMA — Senior Taylor Wilson’s final home plate appearance was one that Elma softball followers will long remember.
Wilson’s three-run walk-off home run in the eighth inning — her first varsity HR — gave the Eagles a 7-4 victory over Montesano and a sweep of their critical Evergreen 1A League softball doubleheader Thursday at Eagle Field.
Brooke Goldsmith pitched and batted Elma to an 8-2 win over the opening game.
The sweep all but assured Elma (9-1, 12-2) its second consecutive league championship. While technically they wrapped up no worse than a share of the Evergreen crown, the Eagles will be heavily favored to earn no worse than a title-clinching split in their concluding league doubleheader Thursday at Tenino.
Montesano, which had entered the day tied for the league lead, slipped to 7-3 and 9-6.
Wilson delivered the game’s most dramatic blow while Goldsmith pitched all 15 innings and helped her own cause with four hits (including a homer in the first game) and four RBIs.
This, however, was a day in which virtually every Eagle made significant contributions.
Freshmen reserves Karli Smythe and Emily Anglin, in fact, played key roles in the come-from-behind triumph in the nightcap.
Stymied on one hit by Montesano pitcher Madison Didion through four innings, the Eagles scored three times in the fifth to tie it at 3-3. Karli Smythe ignited the rally with a pinch-hit single and her sister Sydney delivered an RBI triple later in the inning.
The Bulldogs regained the lead in the top of the seventh when Courtney Swan’s double — her third hit of the contest — scored Bobbi Fry from second base. The inning could have been bigger but LeeAnn Rhoden, who had seemingly beaten out a bunt following Fry’s leadoff single, was called out when the plate umpire dubiously ruled that the ball had hit her out of the batter’s box.
Anglin singled to open Elma’s half of the seventh. She advanced to second on Wilson’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Goldsmith’s wicked one-hopper bounced off the second baseman’s chest for an error.
After Goldsmith struck out the side (around a Pua Cavanah single) in the top of the eighth, Didion set down the first two Eagles in the bottom of the inning.
Karli Smythe, however, sliced a triple that bounced away from Fry in center field and Anglin kept the inning alive by drawing a walk.
Wilson, the ninth-place batter in the Elma lineup, then sent a towering drive over the left-field fence to touch off an Eagle celebration.
“I think we needed to believe we could win,” Eagle coach Janene Todd said once matters had calmed down slightly. “We’re not a team that’s come from behind very well. We needed to come out and prove to ourselves we could do that entering district play. I’m just so proud of the girls.”
Incredibly, the three-run eighth represented Elma’s only earned runs of the doubleheader. The Eagles made the Bulldogs pay heavily for eight errors in the two contests.
“Every time we make an error, the other team scores,” Monte coach Pat Pace said. “Whether it’s because we’re tensing up or just not being focused, the errors are killing us. That and taking too many third strikes.”
Swan lacked only a home run of hitting for the cycle. Fry had two hits and scored all four Montesano runs.
Eagles 8, Bulldogs 2
After struggling with her control early in the season, Goldsmith walked only one while striking out 10 in picking up the victory in this game.
“Brooke Goldsmith did a great job of mixing her pitches and keeping the hitters off-balance,” Pace saluted.
She also wasn’t shabby at the plate. Her three-run homer in the second inning, with Kayla Pacheco and Wilson aboard, snapped a 1-1 standoff and put the Eagles ahead to stay.
Sydney Smythe and Pacheco had two hits apiece for the Eagles.
Montesano’s Carli Cairone circled the bases on a triple-error combination in the fourth inning.
Six Elma seniors were saluted in Senior Day ceremonies.
The Bulldogs host Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls in a non-leaguer Saturday afternoon.
Elma 130 102 0 — 8 9 4 Monte 100 100 0 — 2 6 5
Goldsmith and Wollen; Schneider and Swan.
RBI: Elma — Goldsmith 3, Pacheco. Three hits: Elma — Goldsmith. Two hits: Elma — Pacheco, S. Smythe. Home runs: Elma — Goldsmith. Triples: Montesano — Cairone.
Winning pitcher — Goldsmith (walked one; struck out 10). Losing pitcher — Schneider (walked five; struck out three).
Monte 101 010 10 — 4 7 3 Elma 000 030 13 — 7 7 3
Didion and Swan; Goldsmith and Wollen.
RBI: Montesano — Swan 2, Rhoden, Choate. Elma — Wilson 3, Goldsmith, S. Smythe, Wollen. Three hits: Montesano — Swan. Two hits: Montesano — Fry. Elma — K. Smythe. Home runs: Elma — Wilson. Triples: Montesano — Swan. Elma — S. Smythe, K. Smythe. Doubles: Montesano — Swan.
Winning pitcher — Goldsmith (walked two; struck out six). Losing pitcher — Didion (walked one; struck out six).