The Woodinville Falcons scored the most runs of any KingCo 4A team this season. With a 17-3 record, they were feared across the league as a juggernaut. But as they arrived for the league tournament championship game last Wednesday, Caroline Bowman awaited them.
Bowman, the Skyline ace, overpowered the Falcons with a brilliant performance, leading her Spartans to a 3-2 win over Woodinville.
“Caroline was fantastic, she was lights out,” Woodinville coach Dani Weir said. “The second she stepped onto the mound you could see it in her eyes. She was going to throw a great game. Everybody felt that from her. That is what is going to make her successful at State and in the rest of her career. Big hats off to her, really proud of her.”
Skyline jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, when Lauren Lo drilled a home run to left field. Lo struck again in the third, driving in Emma Patterson with an RBI single to make it 2-0. Skyline extended that lead to 3-0 in the 4th inning, when Taylor Juenke tripled to drive in Caroline Bowman.
Woodinville’s Katie Kelly prevented further damage in the 5th, when she made a spectacular catch up against the fence in deep left-center.
Through the first five innings, Woodinville struggled to get around on the hard-throwing Bowman. When the Lady Falcons did make contact, it usually produced foul balls or manageable grounders.
“She started off with a lot of drop balls and then mixed it up a little bit,” Woodinville’s Lauryn Rhinehart said of her pitching counterpart. “She threw a lot of curve-and-rise balls toward the end of the game. We were all anxious to hit and really tensing up and it took us a little while to settle in and relax in the box. And stop being so jittery. We were all having that problem.”
As game’s end drew nigh, the Falcons clawed and scratched for survival. In the bottom of the 5th, Mikaelie Sullivan hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Erin McGrath who was pinch running for Skylar Hein. In the bottom of the 7th, Paige Grover scored on a RBI single by McGrath to pull within 3-2. But it proved too little, too late.
As Skyline celebrated their tourney title around home plate, Woodinville held a post-game team meeting in left field. Weir gave an impassioned speech, with emphasis on their May 21st home game against Skyview of Vancouver. If Woodinville were to win, they would move on to State. If they were to lose, the season would end.
“She was telling us to keep our heads up and that we’re not done,” Rhinehart said. “[Skyline hasn’t] taken anything from us, we’re still in this and still have a long ways to go. We obviously don’t like to lose, so we need to put this behind us and show the type of game we can play.”
“I was here in my sophomore year in this exact same position,” senior captain Katie Kelly said. “We lost to Redmond in this same game. We’ve experienced this. We’ve lost games before so we know how to deal with it. I want to wear this jersey as long as I can. We just have to take care of business on Saturday and get back to Spokane.”