Preparing for the postseason, the Washington softball Lady Jays picked up local bragging rights over Union Monday with a 5-3 win at Wildcat Ballpark.
“They played well today,” Washington Head Coach Philip King said. “The sun was our enemy a little bit, but that’s OK. We’re not going to deal with that on Thursday and Friday. Other than that, we’re pitching, hitting and fielding well.”
Union Head Coach Tiffany Poggas said her team had chances.
“We were a hit away from tying the ballgame and taking it,” Poggas said. “They came back and fought until the end. I think we’re pretty evenly matched teams. They got the timely hits and we didn’t. That’s the difference in the game.”
Washington (18-8) heads into Class 4 District 4 action at home Thursday against Northwest with a 4:15 p.m. start at Lakeview Park. Washington is seeded second and Northwest is third. The winner of that game advances to the championship Friday at Eureka at 4:15 p.m.
Union is the second seed in the Class 3 District 4 Tournament at Borgia. The Lady ’Cats also play Thursday at 4:15 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between No. 3 Pacific and sixth-seeded St. Clair.
Both coaches felt playing a quality opponent before the start of the district tournament will help in the postseason.
“That’s one of my favorite things about playing a competitive team,” Poggas said. “We aren’t going into the district playing a poor team. We had to play good ball to be competitive and prepare for the district.”
Taylor Hendrix stood out for the Lady Jays in Monday’s win. Her two-run home run in the third inning tied the game. She then smacked a ground rule double in the fifth to start Washington’s winning three-run rally. She drove in one and her courtesy runner, Sophia Olszowka, scored the go-ahead run.
She had two hits in the game with one run and three RBIs.
Hendrix then pitched the final two innings to earn the save, allowing an unearned run on three hits. She struck out two.
“Taylor does a phenomenal job,” King said. “She’s been our best power hitter pretty much all year. Pitching, she comes in and is able to shut it down. It’s nice because her and Ellie (Quaethem) are throwing incredibly well. To be able to switch them about the fourth time through the lineup, the hitters have to see a different spin off the ball. They complement each other very well.”
Quaethem was the winning pitcher for the Lady Jays. Over five innings, she allowed two runs on five hits and one walk. She struck out four.
Union took the lead on a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning by Lauren Boyd.
“It was exciting to see us come out with that energy and take the lead,” Poggas said. “Then we hit that lull.”
Union’s other run came when Angelina Thompson went all the way around the bases from first as a pinch runner in the bottom of the sixth.
“That was nice,” Poggas said. “I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to go. Angelina is so quick, but she’s so young. She made it work.”
Washington came through in the clutch in the seventh inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Hendrix struck out Union’s batter and catcher Peyton Dubberke threw out a runner trying to steal second to end the game.
“What a great throw by Peyton,” King said. “When a girl swings, that’s always going to slow you down a little bit. Their runner has good speed. Bezo (Sarah Becszlko) coming in to second to make the tag was great. You don’t see that too often, but I’ll take it.”
Also for Washington, Becszlko, Jessica Huxol and Emma Piar-Shaw recorded singles.
Becszlko also walked twice and stole two bases. Jena Monehan, Huxol, Dubberke and Emma Vodnansky also walked.
Becszlko scored two runs. Monehan, Hendrix and Olszowka each scored once. Huxol added two RBIs.
“The team looked really great,” King said.
Kelsie Hardester pitched for Union and went the distance, allowing five runs on five hits and six walks. She struck out nine.
Boyd had two hits, including a home run. Sydney Eads doubled.
Georgie Bray, Amanda Downing, Victoria Suerig, Elisabeth Scharfenberg and Kaylee Bunch singled.
Adrianna Trenholm sacrificed. Boyd stole a base. Eads walked.
Bray, Boyd and Thompson scored the runs. Boyd drove in two.
The Lady Jays played shorthanded with two normal starters out. Center fielder Nichole Brinker was playing in the Class 2 sectional golf meet. Caitlyn Vodnansky, the normal shortstop, was ill.