Bailee Noland pitched a four-hitter, and her defense backed her with stellar play, but Hermiston could not make up for the lack of of production at the plate as Southridge escaped with a 4-2 victory on Wednesday in the District 8 championship game in Kennewick.
“They played great defense, but two runs is not enough,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said. “Bailey threw great; she had two earned runs. Earned run for earned run, it was an even game.”
The Bulldogs’ season is not over. They will play the winner of the Shadle Park-Kennewick game at 5 p.m. Friday, with the winner advancing to the 3A state tournament. Both games will be at Rocky Heights Elementary.
With the win, the Suns advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
“It has been a while,” Southridge coach Eric Weisgerber said. “We have had some good players and good teams, but for whatever reason it has not gone our way. The girls did a fabulous job (last) Friday to get us past Mt. Spokane.”
Southridge starter Bailey Rose struck out 14 and limited the Bulldogs to three hits — all by Noland — but Hermiston managed to put a run on the board in the first inning.
With two out, Ashley Cameron drew a full-count walk, then scored on a Noland single to deep center. Cameron just beat the throw to home plate for the game’s first run.
The Bulldogs played solid defense the first two innings, allowing just one base runner.
In the third, the Suns came to life. Rylee Vasquez drew a walk, Raelynn Nesary reached base on an error, McKenna Crum flew out, and Rose singled, driving in Vasquez to tie the score.
Catcher Emmee Ball then blasted an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left-center to give Southridge a 4-1 lead.
“You just know when it comes off the bat,” Ball said of her first homer this season.
The Suns would only get two more base runners the rest of the game, but the damage had been done.
The Bulldogs got a solo home run from Janelle Almaguer in the top of the seventh — her first of the year — but that would be it.
“It was really nerve-racking when they got that first run,” Ball said. “Once our hits came along, our defense backed us up. Their pitcher can hit, and their shortstop (Sydney Stefani) is amazing.”