The North Whidbey Little League baseball team took the first step to Williamsport by winning the District 11 title this weekend.
North Whidbey beat Sedro-Woolley 14-5 Friday, July 7, in the semifinals in Langley, then thumped Anacortes 12-2 Sunday in the title game.
Now it is on to Federal Way for the state tournament. North Whidbey gets a first-round bye and then opens state play at 9 a.m. Sunday, July 16, against the winner between the District 2 (Bainbridge Island) and District 10 (South King County) champions.
“Realistically, when we take a step back and look at our successes on this undefeated championship run, I don’t think any of us are surprised,” coach Shane Hoffmire said. “In fact, I think this is what we expected and certainly worked for.
“(We) told the boys all along that in baseball, much as in life, you can really only control two things: effort and attitude. When it comes to effort and attitude, I’ve never coached a better bunch of young men.”
North Whidbey 14, Sedro-Woolley 5
North Whidbey led 4-3 going into the bottom of the third inning, then scored six runs to take control. Nate Moore got things going with a home run, and Nathan Ginnings added a double during the uprising. Walks to Gunnar Lutz and Tyler Abbott and a couple of errors helped produce the big inning.
North Whidbey secured the win with a four-run sixth. Like the third, it was ignited by a home run, this one from Christian Gisvold. Brady Towsley and Parker Anderson helped the rally along with base hits.
The Wildcat offense was busy all game, starting with a run in the first and three in the second.
Singles by Alex Jenkins and Towsley aided in the scoring of the opening run.
In the second, singles by Holden Jesus and Jenkins and a double by Gisvold spurred the three-run effort.
Towsley pitched most of the game with relief from Taryn Hardy and Ginnings.
North Whidbey 12, Anacortes 2 (five innings)
Heroics weren’t necessary this time.
Earlier in the tournament, North Whidbey had to score six runs with two outs in the final inning to beat Anacortes 10-9.
North Whidbey pounded Anacortes Sunday, including the pitcher that shut them down in the first meeting.
North Whidbey jumped on Anacortes for a first-inning run. Gisvold walked and scored on Towsley’s single.
The ‘Cats demoralized Anacortes with an eight-run third.
Abbott singled and Gisvold doubled, then Jenkins, Towsley and Moore followed with run-scoring singles. Singles by Chris Shashaty, Anderson and Gisvold finished the scoring.
Singles by Abbott, Gisvold and Moore and a double by Towsley led to three runs in the fifth.
Hardy pitched all but one out, tossing a five-hitter (three came when Anacortes scored both its runs in the bottom of the third) and striking out eight. Ginnings picked up the final out with a “K.”
“This is the hardest working and most passionate bunch of players and coaches you’ll ever see,” Hoffmire said. “There will always be doubters in this world, but when you put in the work you shouldn’t ever be surprised by success, you should expect it. I am so proud of these boys and I am so heartened to know that they’ll always remember this championship and these lessons they continue to learn.”