A tournament of highs and lows ended on a definite high note as Meadowdale defeated Prairie 13-9 to take home a third-place state softball tournament trophy for the second time in three years Saturday afternoon at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
The Mavericks trailed 6-2 in the fourth inning and then were behind 9-7 in the sixth before scoring six unanswered runs in the bottom of inning to seize the lead. Prairie stunned Meadowdale in Friday’s quarterfinals with a game-winning, walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“The loss that we had against them yesterday with the walk-off home run really just drove us to want to beat them,” said senior shortstop Hailey Costello. “It just drove us to want to beat them and show them that we can do it.”
Senior second baseman Ciarra Hart agreed that the Mavericks drew motivation from the loss.
“We’re a very tenacious group of girls,” Hart said. “We don’t give up easily.”
This was the team’s fourth straight appearance at state. Meadowdale also took third in 2013. Costello realizes how lucky she was to be a part of four state tournament teams.
“It is amazing. Not a lot of people get to be down here four times in a row and to be able to hold a trophy two out of those four times is probably one of the best feelings,” Costello said.
Meadowdale coach Dennis Hopkins noted that the seniors – Costello, Hart and Haili Taylor – finished with an overall record of 93 wins and only 22 losses.
“That’s a pretty good record,” he said.
Another record that may or may not last a long time is Meadowdale’s 56 home runs this season, an astounding number.
“I have never had a team from T-ball on up … that hit probably more than 15 or 20 a season,” Hopkins said.
Emma Helm and Samantha Gregoryk each hit two-run home runs against Prairie.
“We know how good of a hitting team we are,” Costello said. “We talk about the number of home runs we have and every game that pumps us up. We just have a lot of confidence in our bats.”
Gregoryk and Helm also homered in Meadowdale’s first game on Saturday, a 10-0 victory over Central Kitsap in six innings. Meadowdale’s Lauren Dent struck out seven to earn her second victory of the tournament. Costello was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBI.
The Mavericks then beat Kamiakin 10-0 in five innings. Helm smacked a three-run home run to get the offense rolling.
“Nobody was out there trying to hit home runs,” Hopkins said. “They’re all trying to hit base hits. They just swing the bats really well.”
Hart noted that four years ago, Kamiakin beat Meadowdale, so everyone was glad to have the opportunity to face the Braves again.
Hopkins made sure that all three seniors finished their high school careers out in the field together. Costello and Hart were playing shortstop and second base and with two outs, when the Meadowdale coach sent a hobbled Taylor in to play third base. Taylor injured her knee in the first game of the day.
“I said, ‘You’re a senior,’ it’s up to her if she wants to go in,” Hopkins said. “She goes, ‘Well, put me in the outfield.’ I said, ‘Third base is your position. Why don’t you go stand there.’”
The Mavericks will look to make it five straight state tournament appearances next with all three pitchers – Helm, Gregoryk and Julia Reuble – back.
“I think we have a shot,” Hopkins said. “The young ones want to get back here and the old ones … they want to be the ones who went four years (to state) also. This is the first group that has actually, all four years, been here.”
By David Pan