Lady Falcons, top-ranked and undefeated on a mission

  • Written by Don Mann
Senior left-fielder Shelby Yasuda leaves her feet to snag a critical Eastlake line drive in the first inning of Woodinville’s 9-3 win to help capture the tournament championship for the Lady Falcons. Photo by Don Mann.
With a state tournament berth already in the bag, the top-ranked and undefeated Woodinville fastpitch team was relaxed.

But there was still work to do, and the Lady Falcons flexed its formidable muscles in a 9-3 beat-down of Eastlake in the KingCo tournament finale at Hartman Park in Redmond Thursday to up its record to 21-0.

Next stop Spokane, and bring on all comers. The juggernaut in green and blue now heads to Eastern Washington, with its eyes on the State Class 4A prize, to do damage.

After disposing the Wolves 5-2 three days earlier in the league title game, Woodinville went right back to work.

A leadoff walk to Sara Anderson was followed by a perfect bunt by Kayla O’Farrell. Makenna Weir walked and Katie Engelbrecht’s sacrifice fly to center put the Lady Falcs on the board. Lauren Burchak followed with a double to right-center and it was 2-zip Woodinville right out of the gate.

Eastlake didn’t run and hide: a leadoff single was followed by a base on balls. The Wolves’ No. 3 batter then laced a wicked line drive down the left-field line which was speared by Falcon senior left-fielder Shelby Yasuda, leaving her feet on a dead run, in a spectacular play that kept runners at bay. A game-changer.

"That was a great play," Woodinville coach Mark Leander said. "If she doesn’t catch that ball they score a couple runs and it changes things."

O’Farrell led off the third inning with a line-drive homer to dead center and one out later Engelbrecht launched a no-doubter to right-center to make it 4-zip.

"It was a fastball a little high and outside," the all-Everything senior catcher and captain said. "It just felt good."

Woodinville tacked on two more runs in the fourth and took a commanding 7-0 lead. The Wolves chipped away with a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to make it 7-3.

But in the sixth, the Lady Falcons pulled away for good. Yasuda got aboard on a beauty bunt to lead off the frame. After Anderson got aboard on an error and another sac by O’Farrell, Makenna Weir lined a ground-rule double through the fence in left-center to cut the Wolves’ heart out.

Woodinville starter Keelin Davis, the squad’s No. 2, went the distance for her eighth win of the season, permitting three runs on six hits.

"She’s a pitcher in the true sense of the word," coach Mark Leander said. "Don’t let that red hair and freckles fool you, she’s a bulldog."

Falcon No. 1 pitcher Madi Schreyer was sidelined in the contest after somehow slamming her right index finger — her pitching hand — in a door at home earlier in the week, and the digit was black and blue. But the sophomore will be back.

Engelbrecht, a three-year starter, stood tall and sturdy, and is headed to state for the first time in her stellar high school career. "Shelby (Yasuda) and I have been on this team for three years and the night we won KingCo we were so overcome with joy," she said. "It was one of the greatest feelings. I’m really excited to go to state and see the competition."

So, heading east to grab the bacon, is there pressure or confidence?

"There’s always pressure and pressure’s good," she said with a lovely smile. "But whoever we play we always play against ourselves, to play against our potential, and that’s the level we aim for. I’ve played with these girls since we were little and we’ve just gotten better and better. I’ve known half of these girls since kindergarten and it’s awesome because we’re so tight. And that’s the reason we look so good out there — we’ve been working together forever."

Leander, after discussing travel plans with parents and the athletic director, spoke with this reporter.

"We’re ready to go," he said. "We’ll get Madi back from that little ding. There’s not a lot of teams that have two good pitchers so our pitching depth will help us and we have good depth on our bench.But in these tournaments anything can happen so who knows? We scored a lot of runs this year but what I’ve liked is these last couple games we’ve been bunting, we hit and run tonight and played a little more small ball which will serve us well in the (state) tournament. There are gonna be some good teams out there."

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