The route back to the Class 4 State Tournament for Washington softball could require once again getting past the same teams as last year.
After locking down the Class 4 District 4 championship Friday, the Lady Jays (20-8) will play the sectional round at Marquette (25-3), the same team Washington knocked off 2-1 to earn a trip to the quarterfinals last season.
Should the Lady Jays win there, they would once again face the winner of the game between Seckman and Cor Jesu. Washington beat Seckman in extra innings to advance last season.
Marquette captured its third consecutive district championship Saturday. The Lady Mustangs were the state runner-up in 2015.
The Lady Jays hitters will likely be tasked with facing junior pitcher Annah Junge, who has posted a 15-2 record with a 1.15 ERA this year. Junge went a perfect 16-0 last season.
When Washington knocked off Marquette in this round last season, they did so against Eileen McGinnis rather than Junge.
In that game and throughout the postseason run last season, the Lady Jays relied heavily on Taylor Hendrix in the circle. Hendrix gave up one run to the 2016 Lady Mustangs in the first inning before shutting them down the rest of the way.
This season, the Lady Jays have turned to sophomore Ellie Quaethem to pitch a complete game in both rounds of the district tournament, but Head Coach Philip King is confident in both his hurlers at this stage of the season.
Whoever is in the circle will face a tough test with four Lady Mustangs batting over .400 this season and two above the .500 mark.
One of those is catcher Kelsey Lenox, who has smashed 15 home runs this season to go along with a .511 batting average and 53 runs batted in.
Trying to set the table for Lenox will be pesky leadoff hitter Lillie Knesel, who is batting .577 with 27 stolen bases on the year.
Despite the impressive numbers, both were members of the 2016 team that the Lady Jays eliminated. Knesel went 2-3 with a pair of stolen bases and scored Marquette’s only run in that contest. Lenox was held hitless at 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout.