Grays Harbor College made it a hat trick by taking care of business against Green River on Wednesday afternoon.
Under a bright sunny sky at the Bishop Athletic Complex, the Chokers secured their third consecutive NWAACC Tournament berth by sweeping a Western Division doubleheader, 6-3 and 7-6, over the Gators.
Grays Harbor (9-9, 9-21) will finish the regular season at the Bishop on Friday with a doubleheader against Highline. On May 16, the Chokers will begin play in the NWAACC Championship Tournament in Portland, Ore.
“It has been a battle this season to find ourselves; we’ve lacked some confidence at times,” GHC head coach Tom Sutera said. “The league season was good for us to come together and find out who we are. Our non-league schedule was brutal. Every team we played in the non-league was against a tournament caliber team. So, it is nice to end the season on a good note and to move on to the (NWAACC) tournament.”
Chokers 6, Gators 3
A five-run first inning was the best start GHC could have asked for in the opening game.
Green River notched the game’s first run when Aris Califano stroked a lead-off double to right-center field, then moved around to score on two infield groundouts for a 1-0 Gator lead.
The Chokers brought all nine of their batters to the plate in the bottom of the frame and scored five runs on only two hits. Gators starter Rachel Barcena struggled, walking two of the first three GHC batters. Lead-off batter Chelsy Stewart scored the first run on an infield throwing error at third base.
Catcher Sam King scored on a passed ball, third baseman Amanda Anderson came in on Ratana Griffith’s bases-loaded walk and Nicole Kilmer scored on an infield groundout. A wild pitch pushed Sierra Smith across for the 5-1 lead.
Shannon Glenn added another run in the fourth inning with an RBI single for a 6-1 lead. GHC could have had more against Barcena and the Gators — it stranded the bases loaded in the second, fifth and sixth innings. Barcena also walked 10 batters in the contest.
GHC ace pitcher Jenny Benn took the lead confidently, limiting Green River to two scattered hits before a two-run fifth inning. The Gators’ Taylor Woods striked a two-run double to left-center field at 6-3.
Benn pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh inning to end the game, setting up the nightcap.
“Jenny has pitched for us in every league game, except for one inning,” Sutera added. “She’s had to do it all for us, coming off ACL surgery in July and being cleared to rehab and play in November. Hats off to her for working so hard to come back. She’s taken a beating this season, but she’s so mentally strong, she never asked out of any game.”
Kilmer led the Chokers with three hits, with Stewart adding two hits and two runs scored. Stewart also made a running catch deep in center field for a key out in the seventh inning that prevented two runs from scoring.
Benn picked up the win with three strikeouts and one walk.
Chokers 7, Gators 6
In the nightcap, Benn scattered 12 hits and only gave up one walk to pick up the victory for GHC.
Anderson led the Chokers with three hits and three RBI, with Glenn, Kilmer, Smith and Janet Carillo knocking in one run each. Stewart, Glenn and Kilmer added two hits each, with Glenn and Kilmer smacking doubles.
“We got lucky to win every game this way — 3-2, 6-4, 6-3 and now 7-6,” Sutera said. “They had base runners all over the place and so did we. Every game was close with them. It was nice to hit the ball and play good enough defense to win.”
Kencia McClellan took the loss in the circle for Green River.
Green Rvr 100 020 0 — 3 6 2 GHC500 100 x — 6 7 2
Barcena and Myton; Benn and King.
RBI: Green River — Woods 3. Grays Harbor — Glenn, Griffith, Carrillo. Three hits: Grays Harbor — Kilmer. Two hits: Green River — Califano, Woods. Grays Harbor — Stewart. Doubles: Green River — Woods, Califano.
Winning pitcher — Benn (three strikeouts, one walk). Losing pitcher — Barcena (six strikeouts, 10 walks).
Green Rvr 201 030 0 — 6 12 2 GHC 221 101 x — 7 11 2
McClellan and Myton; Benn and King.
RBI: Green River — Speelmon 3, Woods 2, Barcena. Grays Harbor — Anderson 3, Glenn, Kilmer, Smith, Carrillo. Three hits: Green River — Speelmon. Grays Harbor — Anderson. Two hits: Green River — Califano, Woods, McClellan, Barcena. Grays Harbor — Stewart, Glenn, Kilmer. Doubles: Green River — Woods, Speelmon. Grays Harbor — Glenn, Kilmer.
Winning pitcher — Benn (one walk). Losing pitcher — McClellan (three strikeouts, three walks).