The Arlington Eagles and senior pitcher Ronnie Ladines were barely challenged at the State 4A softball tournament, but they didn’t wither when the first challenge came.
Ladines struck out 15, including the last two batters to strand the potential tying run at second base, and Arlington (22-3) claimed its first fastpitch state title Saturday with a 2-1 win over Camas at Merkel Sports Complex.
Ladines also went 3 for 3 with two doubles and a run batted in to help the Eagles finish 4-0 and outscore opponents 24-1 at the two-day event.
“I’ve been looking for this for so long,” the Kent State recruit said. “Our seniors started together when we were 10-year-old Little League all-stars and we figured, ‘What the heck? Why not do it and finish it together?’”
Ladines struck out 17 and homered as Arlington began the day with a 6-0 win over Richland in the semifinals. She also pitched the Eagles to two shutout wins during Friday’s opening day.
Camas (20-5) made the title game with a 2-0 semifinal win over defending champ Woodinville.
Tahoma (25-5) defeated Woodinville (23-3) 7-4 in the game for third and fourth places when Bre West hit a one-out, three-run homer to left field in the eighth inning.
That extra-inning game pushed back the starting time for the championship by 1 hour, but Arlington and Camas made it worth the wait.
Camas coach Ken Nidick started pitcher Katie Schroeder, but the sophomore lasted three batters. Senior Hayley Fields led off the game with a double to right-center and scored on Ladines’ one-out double to a similar spot.
Junior Harli Hubbard relieved Schroeder and allowed five hits and struck out nine in 61/3 innings.
Ladines struck out six in the first two innings before facing a big challenge.
Amee Aarhus led off Camas’ third with an infield single and stole second base. Lena Richards tied the score at 1 with what appeared to be a triple, but the umpires called her out for missing second base. Erin Tauscher doubled with two outs, but Ladines struck out Hubbard to end the threat.
Eagles center fielder Marisa Rathert made the defensive gem of the game when she chased down Schroeder’s long fly in the fourth. Rathert knocked down the fence, tumbled over and held the ball.
Ladines’ one-out double in the fifth moved Katelyn McDonald to third base. Lynsey Amundson’s grounder to second base drove in the go-ahead run.
Camas pinch-hitter McKinley Johnson dropped a one-out double to right in the seventh, but Ladines struck out Aarhus and Richards.
“We didn’t have as many hits as we normally do, but we … kept fighting and didn’t give up,” Ladines said.
Central Valley (19-6) lost to Tahoma 5-1 to open its day and finished the tourney 2-2. The Bears went 3-2 last year.
The Bears, trailing 1-0, opened their first with Kaitlyn Richardson’s double to right-center, Kiara McCoy’s bunt single and Carissa Sdao’s RBI single. Tahoma pitcher Carley Nance scattered four singles the rest of the way.
CV loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, trailing 3-1, but Nance escaped the jam.
“I was licking my chops a little bit, especially with who we had coming up,” Bears coach Joe Stanton said. “I thought it was our time, to be quite honest.”
Delaney Nelson’s two-run homer to left in the seventh capped the scoring. Nelson hit a long foul to left earlier in the count.
“(The pitch on the homer) was just a little more toward the plate,” CV pitcher Carli Riordan (12-4) said. “Oh, well, they’re accidents.”
“Some people might not think it’s a big deal, but even getting to the second day at state is huge,” Bears senior center fielder Missy Hoffman said.