RICHLAND — As a final gift for their departing seniors and coaches, Elma’s Eagles made school softball history.
Brooke Goldsmith pitched a two-hitter as Elma captured its first state softball title with a 6-1 victory over Mount Baker in the Class 1A championship game Saturday at Richland’s Columbia Playfields.
Much of the final-day drama came hours earlier. Izzy Cristelli slugged a game-tying two-run home run in the seventh and Goldsmith added a walk-off RBI triple in the eighth as the Eagles came from three runs down in the seventh to edge defending three-time state champion Connell, 6-5, in one semifinal.
Mount Baker overcame a four-run deficit to nip Hoquiam, 7-6, in the other semi.
Hoquiam bounced back to claim a fourth-place trophy, crushing Okanogan, 15-1 in five innings before dropping a 9-4 decision to Woodland in the game to decide third and fourth places.
The state championship marked the swan song not only for Elma’s five seniors but also for its coaching staff. Head coach Janene Todd and her husband, assistant coach Mitchell Todd, are stepping down, Janene confirmed Saturday.
“We have a lot of seniors and this is our coaches’ last year, so we had a lot of motivation,” senior outfielder Sydney Smythe reflected. “We put our hearts on the field and never let up.”
Elma’s 14-9 season record was deceptive. The Eagles returned several key components from a team that had captured Evergreen 1A League championships the previous two years, but the club was slow to jell this season.
In Janene Todd’s estimation, they played their best four games of the season at state.
“It was a different team and we had to get chemistry,” the Elma coach said. “We peaked at the right time. We didn’t overwork Brooke (as a pitcher during the regular season). She was healthy and here 100 percent and our bats backed her up.”
“I think everyone peaked at the right time,” Goldsmith agreed.
Goldsmith turned in a spectacular state performance. The senior right-hander won all four state contests and didn’t allow an earned run in three of them. She also established what was undoubtedly a state record of some sort by hitting four consecutive triples.
“She was the league MVP (an honor she actually shared with Montesano’s Madison Didion) and she’s the MVP of this tournament,” Todd maintained. “And I don’t think anybody here doubts it.”
Goldsmith received solid support from her teammate. Cristelli homered in each of the last two games and Smythe, Shayla Shumate, Peyton Elliott and Ashley Cooper were among also making important contributions.
“We definitely went through a lot of bumps and bruises,” a tearful Smythe summed up, “(but) we got to hold up No. 1.”
Elma 6, Mount Baker 1
After the dramatic semifinal, the title game was almost an anti-climax. Goldsmith appropriately jump-started the Eagle attack by hitting Aleks Toivola’s fist pitch of the game into the right-centerfield gap for her fourth straight triple over two contests. Two pitches later, Smythe grounded a single into left field to give the Eagles a lead they never relinquished.
Smythe advanced to third on Shumate’s single to right and scored on Elliott’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Conquerors of both Hoquiam and Montesano in the tourney, Mount Baker got one back in its half of the first when Lacey Postlewait reached on a leadoff error and came in on Emma Lallas’ two-run single.
The Mountaineers, however, were unable to catch up consistently with Goldsmith’s rising fastball. The Eagle ace struck out 11 and retired the last 12 batters she faced.
After walking six and hitting a batter in the semifinal, she did not issue a free pass in the title game — a trick she attributed to not thinking about her control.
Cooper, meanwhile, delivered an RBI single in the third. The Eagles added an unearned run in the fifth, Goldsmith doubled home Annie Cristelli, who had a pinch-hit single, in the sixth and Izzy Cristelli provided the coup de grace with a solo homer in the seventh.
Goldsmith, Smythe and Cooper had two hits apiece in the title game.
Elma 6, Connell 5
Until the dramatic climax, this was a game of frustration for the Eagles.
They squandered a bases-loaded, no-out situation midway through the contest and had Karli Smythe’s apparent RBI single nullified when Mitchell Todd, coaching first base, was ruled to have illegally made contact with Smythe while she was running the bases.
Connell, whose mascot is also the Eagles, had taken command with a three-run fourth and owned a 5-2 lead through 6 1/2 frames.
With the formidable top of their batting order due up, Elma’s Eagles remained confident.
“We knew we could hit and the pitcher was hittable,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith’s lead-off triple and Sydney Smythe’s RBI double narrowed the deficit to two.
Then Izzy Cristelli unloaded a game-tying blast just to the left of the 223-foot marker in left-center.
Shumate followed with a single and, following a fielder’s choice in which all hands were safe and a sacrifice bunt, Elma had the winning run on third with one out. But Connell pitcher McKenna Mathis worked out of the jam.
After Goldsmith set down the side in order in the eighth, Elma wasted little time ending it.
Karli Smythe worked Mathis for a four-pitch walk and Goldsmith followed with a line drive into left field. When the Connell left fielder was unable to prevent the ball from scooting to the fence, Smythe came around to easily score the deciding run.
That was the last of Goldsmith’s three straight triples in this game.
Sydney Smythe also had three hits, while Smythe doubled twice among her three hits.
Mount Baker 7, Hoquiam 6
The Grizzlies were poised for a fourth meeting this season with Elma in the state championship game before disaster struck in the fifth inning.
Ellie Quercia and Kayla Hilliard had each tripled in a three-run third inning and the Grizzlies added an unearned marker in the top of the fifth to lead 4-0. With Bailee Bradley working on a one-hitter through four, that advantage seemed money in the bank.
Following a leadoff walk in their half of the fifth, however, the Mountaineers strung together five singles in a six-batter sequence.
Emily Yost’s two-run single tied it. A wild pitch and Emily Brandland’s safety squeeze bunt completed the six-run frame that stunningly gave the Mounties a 6-4 edge.
That’s the way it stayed until the Hoquiam seventh. Ashlynn Wakefield’s lead-off walk and Quercia’s one-out single, sandwiched around a fielder’s choice and an infield out, put runners on second and third with two outs. Hilliard’s routine grounder rolled through the second baseman’s legs, bringing home both runners to tie it.
Hoquiam’s celebration, however, was exceedingly short-lived. Lallas reached on an infield error to open the Mount Baker seventh. Yost followed with a double into the right-centerfield gap and Lallas scored easily to end it.
Quercia and Bradley had two hits each for the Grizzlies.
Hoquiam 15, Okanogan 1
To their credit, the Grizzlies quickly hit the reset button to clinch a state trophy with their second rout of Okanogan in the tournament.
Quercia, Bradley and Hannah Hliboki each doubled in a six-run first inning. Hoquiam added five more in the second, with Bradley and Kylie Stewart each delivering RBI singles and Katelynn Paladin delivered a two-run single. Okanogan was also guilty of three errors in that frame.
Hliboki was the winning pitcher.
Woodland 9, Hoquiam 4
The Beavers, whose title hopes were dashed by a walk-off grand slam by Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls in the opening round, finished the tournament convincingly with five straight wins — dispatching the likes of Montesano and Connell as well as the Grizzlies.
Woodland collected 13 hits against Hoquiam.
Bradley provided the Grizzly highlight with a grand slam homer in the sixth. Quercia concluded a fine tournament with two hits.
The Grizzlies returned home with a 20-7 record and a state trophy, which coach Keith Reynvaan admitted was bittersweet.
“It’s great to get state hardware,” Reynvaan said with a smile. “To have a 4-0 lead and you’re cruising and you have one bad inning (is tough). But I was very proud of the girls the way they bounced back against Okanogan.”
Brendan Carl of the Vidette contributed to this report.
Elma 201 011 1 — 6 9 1 Mt. Baker 100 000 0 — 1 2 3
Goldsmith and Elliott; Toivola and Ortloff.
RBI: Elma — S. Smythe, I. Cristelli, Shumate, Elliott, Goldsmith, Cooper. Mt. Baker — Lallas. Two hits: Elma — Goldsmith, S. Smythe, Cooper. Home run: Elma — I. Cristelli. Triples: Elma — Goldsmith. Doubles: Elma — Goldsmith.
Winning pitcher — Goldsmith (walked none; struck out 11). Losing pitcher — Toivola (walked one; struck out one).
Connell 100 300 10 — 5 7 1 Elma 001 100 31 — 6 11 0
Mathis and Olberding; Goldsmith and Elliott.
RBI: Connell — Egbert 3, Hawkins. Elma — S. Smythe 3, I. Cristelli 2, Goldsmith. Three hits: Connell — Mathis. Elma — Goldsmith, S. Smythe. Two hits: Connell — Egbert. Elma — Shumate, K. Smythe. Home runs: Elma — I. Cristelli. Triples: Connell — Hawkins. Elma — Goldsmith 3. Doubles: Connell — Mathis. Elma — S. Smythe 2, K. Smythe.
Winning pitcher — Goldsmith (walked six; struck out six). Losing pitcher — Mathis (walked one; struck out four).
Hoquiam 003 010 2 — 6 8 2 Mt. Baker 000 060 1 — 7 9 3
Bradley and Stewart; Toivola and Ortloff.
RBI: Hoquiam — LaLonde, Hilliard, Bradley. Mount Baker — Yost 3, Toivola, Brandland. Two hits: Hoquiam — Quercia, Bradley. Mount Baker — Toivola, Yost, Miles. Triples: Hoquiam — Quercia, Hilliard. Doubles: Hoquiam — Bradley. Mount Baker — Yost.
Winning pitcher — Toivola (walked one; struck out one). Losing pitcher — Bradley (walked three; struck out three).
Summaries of Hoquiam-Okanogan and Woodland-Hoquiam were unavailable