As Carli Riordan stepped up to the plate on a seriously windy Friday night, she quickly worked out the mathematics of the situation and an idea blew through her mind.
“I just figured it’d be better to take care of it all at once,” the sophomore Central Valley pitcher said.
And so, with the bases loaded, Riordan took a hard swing at the first pitch she saw and blasted a game-tying grand slam to left-center field and the Bears went on to defeat Marysville-Pilchuck 13-12 in a back-and-forth elimination game at the State 4A softball tournament at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.
After losing their tournament opener 7-4 to Jefferson, the Bears needed nine innings to dispatch Kentlake 4-3 in another elimination game prior to the evening game against Marysville-Pilchuck.
By then, Riordan admits she was tired. But it certainly didn’t show at the plate.
“I didn’t even feel it, it was crazy,” Riordan, who pitched the first two games of the day, said of her grand slam. “But right when I hit it I knew it was gone. It’s one of those things. You can’t feel it, you just know.”
Riordan was forced into action after the Bears gave up five runs in the first inning.
“Everyone kind of had their heads down and looked defeated,” CV coach Joe Stanton said. “I told them, ‘You know what? Don’t quit. If you quit, there’s no point in even walking back onto that field. If you keep fighting, you’re going to look up and see that scoreboard a lot closer.’ ”
That seemed to do the trick, but it seemed the Tomahawks, who refused to quit, were given the same speech from their coach.
The Bears built an 11-5 lead with four runs in the third and six more in the fourth. But Marysville-Pilchuck responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and another four in the fifth to take a 12-11 lead and put the pressure back on the Bears heading into the sixth.
“We needed to dig deep once more in that situation,” Stanton said.
With two outs, junior third baseman Tia Pau smacked a two-run double to center field, scoring Christina Hoffman and Kaitlyn Richardson to take the final lead.
“We had some timely hits and I tip my hat to Carissa Sdao,” Stanton said of the junior, who relieved Riordan in the second and pitched through the fifth inning. “She was our game plan and we knew they could hit and she moved the ball fabulously.”
In their opener against Jefferson, the Bears forged a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the fourth, but the Raiders scored five runs in the fifth to break the game open. Despite a small rally in the sixth, CV wasn’t able to catch up.
“They did exactly what they’re supposed to do, we just didn’t execute,” Stanton said. “We had our opportunities.”
The Bears, who were forced into survival mode early in the day, tightened things up in their win over Kentlake. Tied 2-2 after seven innings, CV finally wore Kentlake down and scored twice in the top of the ninth before holding off the Falcons, who scored one and put the tying run on base in the bottom of the inning.
“We were hitting the ball well and in that game I just knew it was only a matter of time before we got it done,” Stanton said. “I just had a feeling.”
Normally division championships are celebrated with champagne showers in the locker room. The Spokane Indians settled for cheering and high fives on a crowded bus.
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