The surprising late-season run by the Coupeville High School softball team came to an end at the state 1A tournament in Richland Friday, May 30.
The Wolves, returning to state for the first time since 2002 and for only the second time ever, lost to Warden 8-1 and to Okanogan 5-2.
"All of the work they put in throughout the season and playing in a mainly 2A league helped us even though the record (8-20) didn't show it," co-coach David King said. "We really put everything together in districts and the tri-districts and had everything clicking at the same time. The trip to state was earned and something these players will not forget. Amy (King, co-coach) and I are very proud of the players."
Against Warden (19-4), pitcher Aaliyah Enriquez limited the Wolves to three hits and six walks while striking out 15.
The 6-2 hurler "threw hard, and her length helped her fastball get on our hitters quicker than they were used to," David King said. "She had a good rise ball and we were swinging under early on and just missing."
Three base-running mistakes also hurt the offense, King said.
Coupeville didn't produce a base runner until two outs in the fourth inning when Hailey Hammer walked. McKayla Bailey followed with the first hit, then Maddi Strasburg walked to load the bases, but a strikeout ended the threat.
In the sixth, Hammer singled and scored on Haley Sherman's double.
Warden scored an unearned run in the first on an error and two singles.
Back-to-back home runs in the third pushed the lead to 3-0, then the Cougars put the game away with a five-run fourth.
Okanogan (24-5) scored four runs in the second inning on four hits and an error and then hung on for the win.
From there, Coupeville pitcher Bailey retired 15 of the next 17 hitters.
In the seventh, two hits and a sacrifice fly scored the Bulldogs' final run.
Coupeville finished with seven hits but could not bunch them together to plate runs. The Wolves left eight runners on base, six in scoring position.
Coupeville scored its first run in the third. Madi Roberts walked and scored when Bree Messner laced a double. Hammer followed with a bloop single, but Messner had to hold at second to see if the ball was going to be caught. That bit of bad luck cost the Wolves a run when Bailey hit a similar single and Messner had to stop at third. Two strike outs snuffed the rally.
Messner walked in the fifth and was forced at second by Hammer. Hammer then scored on Bailey's triple for Coupeville's other run.
Singles by Roberts and Messner put two on with one out in the seventh, but the season ended with two ground outs.
Strasburg also hit a double for Coupeville.
Catcher Messner provided the defensive play of the tournament by diving to catch a popped-up bunt in the sixth inning, King said.
The game ended the career for seniors Roberts, Messner and Sherman.
Sherman hurt her ankle in the tri-district tournament but "gutted it out with the sprained ankle," King said. "With her in left it really made us a better team defensively."
"Overall, this year this team struggled at times, played well at times, but more importantly they played as a team and never quit," said King. "We had a big gap between the returning varsity players and their experience and skill level compared to the incoming players. The veteran players showed patience and they were willing to help the younger players along.
"We started with an unsure team and ended with one that believed when they took the field they could compete and beat anyone if we played our game."