Malia Wash’s first pitch was pounded for a triple.
Hannah Wafstet’s first time on base was erased when she was called out for interference.
But as Wash, Wafstet and their North Central teammates have said all year: “It’s hard to beat a team that doesn’t give up.”
Wash (16-4) struck out five, walked none and allowed no earned runs, and Wafstet had a pair of two-run doubles Tuesday as the Indians (18-4) defeated Hanford 9-2 in 3A regional play at Whitworth University.
“NC hasn’t come this far in a ball sport in a long time,” Wafstet said. “This is exciting. It means a lot to our team and our school.”
“You know what? This is a big thing, and the girls are playing like it,” NC coach Rob Kuehn said.
NC joins a strong Greater Spokane League contingent for Saturday’s state-qualifying round in Richland. At noon, University meets Kamiakin in a winner-to-state game and NC plays Shadle Park in a loser-out. The U-Hi/Kamiakin loser and NC/SP winner will play at 2 p.m. for the second and final state bid.
GSL 4A teams will follow the same format, at the same time and site. Central Valley (16-3) and Walla Walla are in the winner-to-state bracket while Mead (14-6) and Richland are in the loser-out slot.
Kadi Patterson of Hanford (7-14) jumped on Wash’s first offering and knocked it over the head of center fielder Tamiya Tisdale for a triple. Wash’s one-out throwing error to first base on Miranda Foraker’s comebacker allowed Patterson to score, and Foraker scored on Molly Bishop’s two-out single to center.
Wash followed with six scoreless innings, scattering six singles.
“I was kind of worried because it … was like, ‘Oh man, this is not a good start,’ ” Wash said. “But I just had to rely on my team to hit after that and come back.”
NC did just that, collecting three hits during its one-run first, three during its three-run second and six during its five-run fourth.
“In the second, when we got those three runs, it was kind of smooth sailing from there,” Wash said.
NC’s first inning might have been bigger, but Wafstet was called out for interfering with second baseman Emma Garcia as she fielded Lauren Hare’s grounder.
“I was in the base line and I should have been there, but I knew for my team that I couldn’t take that to heart,” Wafstet said. “I had to just let it go.”
Wafstet gave NC a 4-2 lead with a two-out, two-run double over the head of right fielder Alaine Wilkerson in the second. The play before, center fielder Jessica Rush dropped Emily Ebaugh’s shallow popup.
“I had a plan to go to right field, because that would score runs and we needed it,” Wafstet said. “So I just followed through with my plan – what I’ve been working on all year.”
With a hit that landed about 1 foot fair, Wafstet added a two-run double to left in the fourth for a 6-2 lead. Hare and Jessica Huffman also had RBI doubles in the big inning.
Tisdale, Ebaugh, Wafstet were a combined 7 for 11 with six runs.
“All of the facets of our game are on,” Kuehn said. “Malia Wash and Emily Ebaugh (at catcher) were on it again, and they are game after game. We get timely hits with runners on, and that’s the name of the game.”
University 23, Kennewick 1 (5): Brittany Hecker (16-4) went 4 for 4 and pitched a two-hitter and Taylor Morales went 3 for 4 with a homer and five RBIs as the Titans (17-5) pounded the visiting Lions. Ryelynn Mendoza singled, doubled, tripled and had three RBIs for the Titans, and Karly Schuh went 3 for 4.
Shadle Park 4, Southridge 3: Brittney Gately pitched a two-hitter, striking out seven and allowing one earned run, as the Highlanders (11-12) edged the Suns at Kennewick. Gately also singled and scored as Shadle made the most of four hits.
Kamiakin 8, Mt. Spokane 4: Emily Benson went 4 for 4 with three runs as the defending state-champion Braves eliminated the visiting Wildcats (11-11). Mt. Spokane’s Alexa Adams struck out four, tripled in the second and scored twice.
District 7 2B
NW Christian 4, Colfax 0: Hannah Hustad (17-4) pitched a four-hitter, striking out 10 and walking one, as the Crusaders blanked the Bulldogs in the title game at Merkel Field. NWC’s Hanna Chaffin had a two-run single in the sixth for a 3-0 lead. The 11 a.m. matchups for Saturday’s 7/9 2B regional at Merkel are: NWC vs. Asotin; Colfax vs. Dayton; Liberty vs. DeSales; and Springdale vs. Waitsburg-Prescott.
Liberty 12, Springdale 2 (5): Jordyn Soliday scattered four hits and the Lancers beat the Chargers with an 11-run fourth.
District 9 1B
Colton 4, Garfield-Palouse 3: Kaitlyn Druffel doubled to lead off the bottom of the seventh and scored on Hannah Kramer’s single as the Wildcats eliminated the visiting Vikings. Gar-Pal’s Lexie Rodriguez singled and scored in the first and added a two-run double in the fourth. Colton will meet Touchet or Liberty Christian at 5 p.m. Thursday for seeding to Saturday’s 7/9 1B regional at Medical Lake.