Last year the University Titans softball team finished third in the East Regional and came home with the first-place trophy at the State 4A tournament.
This year the Titans softball team finished tied for third in the East Regional and …
“The big thing is we get to escort the trophy back,” U-Hi coach Jon Schuh said. “I didn’t want to give it to Mead or LC and say ‘hey, will you take this back for us.’ You’re getting an opportunity to defend.”
Today is the last day the Titans (21-4) get the opportunity to say they are the defending champions. Starting Friday, they and the Mead Panthers – and 14 other 4A schools – will be on equal footing when the take SERA Field in Tacoma.
Ironically enough, U-Hi will be facing a Skyview team the Titans defeated 3-1 in last year’s semifinal. The Storm (20-3) also feature one of the state’s best hitters and pitchers in Whitney Baker.
Baker twisted her knee in the first inning of the West-Central District title game with Olympia on Monday, and her status for Friday’s opener is unknown. But the Storm’s backup, Kayla Kuretich, tossed a five-hitter at the Bears before losing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh.
With a healthy Baker, Skyview can be considered one of the favorites.
“We had a tough draw last year,” Schuh said. “It really doesn’t matter. I don’t think there are too many slouches in the state tournament.
“(Skyview was) a young team when we beat them last year, and we were senior dominated. Bottom line is when you get to the state tournament, you have to play good defense and then, offensively, you put the bat on the ball and, hopefully, teams are going to make mistakes.”
Another team with a question mark in the circle is Mead (22-2-1).
Junior right-hander Kim Watson suffered a broken bone in her pitching thumb trying to bunt in a 4-3 10-inning win over Pasco on Monday.
Senior third baseman Lacey Parry is ticketed to fill in for Watson, the top winner in the GSL and the only Panther to pitch this year until the regional final, a 21-2 four-inning loss to Richland (24-1).
“She worked out yesterday,” Mead coach John Barrington said of Parry. “She throws off and on, nothing ever real serious. She’s always been a girl who can throw batting practice every once in a while. She throws strikes.”
Despite the loss of Watson, who is also one of the GSL’s leading hitters, Barrington thinks his team will play like the league champions they are.
“They’re ready,” he said. “We met yesterday instead of practicing and the seniors took control. If we go without Kim, she’s going, but if she can’t throw, we are still going to show up and compete. That’s their expectation, nothing less.”
In Sumner, the Panthers are getting a team that finished third in its division of the South Puget Sound League. But the Spartans (21-7) are hot, going undefeated in winning the league tournament before finishing fourth in the West-Central District.