16 Slow-pitch teams gathered in Yakima for the 1st State Tournaments of the 2023-24 season. 8 battled for the 4A title and 8 for the 3A/2A Championship. In both cases there were two huge roadblocks to the big trophies as both tournaments featured 2-time defending Champions. And both rolled through the 1st day sending the message that neither were eager to let that trophy go.
In the 4A Chiawana came in with a 17-2 regular season record and was the #1 seed. Their only losses during the season were to 3A University and Walla Walla. University being the 2-time defending Champ of the 3A/2A tourney and Walla Walla a state placer. The Riverhawks were on a roll coming into the tournament and kept up that momentum rolling to huge wins in the 1st 2 games of 23-7 over Bothell and 30-1 over Woodinville in the semi-finals, scoring a total of 53 runs in 2 games.
The Union Titans from the Greater St Helens league came in as the #2 seed and had to battle but proved the seeding was correct as they got by a tough Central Valley in the opening round 9-3 and then defeated league rival Skyview in the semi-finals 11-1 to get to the title game.
On day 1 in the 3A/2A tournament, the 2-time defending champion University Titans made it clear to win the title you will have to beat them. The Titans offense pounded out 52 runs with 28 in their opener and 24 in the semi-final while surrendering only 6 runs.
#2 Mt Spokane had to work for their spot in the finals though as they held off #3 Walla Walla 20-17. The Wildcats had a chance to beat the Blue Devils with a 20-11 lead in the bottom of the 5th and the winning run on 2nd the Wildcats could not get in the 10th run to end the game. They then gave up 7 runs in the 6th and 7th but able to hold on for the win. The win set up an epic battle for the big trophy.
Overall, the selection committee did a great job with the #1 vs #2 seeds in both tournaments. In the 4A they were a bit off with the 5 seed taking on the 7 seed for 3rd place. The big upset was #3 Moses Lake not getting past the opening day with 2 tough losses to #6 Skyview 11-4 and to #7 Central Valley 25-17. The Central Valley win over the Mavericks would end up being the biggest upset if you want to call games big upsets in a final 8 with the 7 seed over the 3 seed.
In the 3A/2A tournament the committee again had it right with 1 vs 2 for the title. They almost hit the perfect top 4 with seeds 3 and 5 playing for 3rd. That would be the only misstep in the bracket as the 5 Columbia River over the 4 Lake Washington was the only “upset” of the whole tournament until the Championship game that saw #2 Mt Spokane knock off University.
In our view and when we rate the committees we don’t look for perfect 1-2-3-4 placings but rather if they got the right 4 teams in the final 4 and the final 8 when you are looking at 16 team tournaments. The 4A had 1 vs 2 for the title, 1, 2, 5 and 7 seeds in the final 4 and 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the final 6 we give them a solid B close to a B+. The 3A/2A had 1 vs 2 in the finals, 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the final 4 and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 in the final 6 for an A-. This is pretty dang good work by both committees.
Our coverage of the Championship game is below along with interviews, some highlights and lots of pictures. We’ll start with the 4A tournament coverage with the 3A/2A below plus at the bottom a huge photo gallery.
State 4A Tournament
State Championship Game
Chiawana (1) 21, Union (2) 0
The Chiawana Riverhawks were seeking their 3rd straight State Championship and rolled through Friday posting big wins over Bothell and Woodinville advancing to the Championship game against #2 seed Union. The Riverhawks simply didn’t allow the Titans to get in the game at any point shutting them out with a 21-0 resounding win.
The Titans had no reason to hang their heads as the Riverhawks are simply a machine that few can challenge at this point but have set the bar for all others to come after them next season. Chiawana rolled through the tournament scoring 74 runs in 3 games, just shy of a 25 run per game average and gave up just 8. Rounding it off they won each game on a 25-3 average.
The Chiawana seniors were Adriana Rodriguez, Leah North, Mikaylah Swanson, Amidie Ochoa, Kennedy McBride, Emma Wirt, Olivia Morales and Emma Dodson. The rest of the Riverhawks lien-up were Alyssa Melendez, Jessica Melendez, Chase Wirt, Samantha Melendez, Gabriella Garza who are all juniors and 2 sophomores Amelia Smith and Chloe Reid. Head Coach is Brian Thomas and assistant coaches Aaron Cantu and Eli Garza.
There were only 2 Union Titans seniors Ella Berfanger and Zena McKenzie on the team. The rest are all coming back and no doubt will be more ready with this experience under their belts to try and knock off the Riverhawks next year. The rest of the squad were juniors Reilly Files and Bailey Gleich. Sophomores included Megan Barrie, Mckenna Johnson, Addison Moe, Sophia Rickard, Victoria Ross, Sophia Tumelty and Madison Wirth and the lone freshman Kylie Haase. Head coach for the Titans is Rashell Teague and assisted by Timothy Hinds.
ESN talks with Chiawana Seniors Adriana Rodriguez and Kennedy McBride
ESN talks with Riverhawks Head Coach Brian Thomas
Chiawana clinches their 3rd straight Title
Bases Clearing Triple
Ground Rule Double
Chiawana gets started in the 1st
3rd/4th Place Game
Eastmont (5) 15, Central Valley (7) 11
It was one of the better games competitively as the Eastmont Wildcats held off the Central Valley Bears for 3rd place. Eastmont stubbed their toe in the opening game where they almost knocked off Woodinville for a chance at Chiawana in the semi-finals but came back to win 3 in a row and clinch the 3rd place trophy. The Wildcats beat Bothell in the loser out game on Friday 22-2, then advanced to the 3rd place game knocking off #6 Skyview 17-12 before beating #7 Central Valley. The seniors for Eastmont were Mia Aman, Evita Flores, Hallie Pierce, Kiana Sprugasci and Abigail Rice.
#7 Central Valley upset #3 Moses Lake in the loser out game on Friday advancing to Saturday morning where they eliminated #4 Woodinville before falling short to Eastmont. The seniors for the Bears were Grace Dierks, Jocelyn Nostrant, Lauren Huetti and Sofia Morales.
Eastmont scores their final run
The Wildcats clinch 3rd place with a great catch in centerfield
Consolation (Loser Out)
Central Valley (7) 19, Woodinville (4) 6
Eastmont (5) 17, Skyview (6) 12
Friday, Oct 27
Skyview (6) 11, Moses Lake (3) 4
Union (2) 9 Central Valley (7) 3
Woodinville (4) 18, Eastmont (5) 17
Chiawana (1) 23, Bothell (8) 7
Union (2) 11, Skyview (6) 1
Chiawana (1) 30, Woodinville (4) 1
Consolation (Loser out)
Central Valley (7) 25, Moses Lake (3) 17
Eastmont (5) 22, Bothell (8) 2
State 3A/2A Tournament
State Championship Game
Mt Spokane 18, University 17
This game simply may have been the best game of the entire weekend and it came down to deciding the 3A/2A State Champion. 2-time defending champions University were well acquainted with their opponent the Mt Spokane Wildcats. These two teams had faced off 3 times during the year, twice in regular and once in districts. The Wildcats had the defending Champs Titans number for their 1st 2 games with 8-5 and 12-6 wins But University got the Wildcats in Districts which likely with being the 2-time defending state champs is what got them the #1 seed. The selection committee was not fooled though and had no issue in making the #2 seed from the same league in Mt Spokane.
Mt Spokane won the coin toss and was the home team so University went first and got on the board with 1 run. Mt Spokane bounced right back with 5 runs. Going into the top of the 4th the Titans trailed 6-1 but came up with a 5-spot to tie the game going into the bottom of the inning where the Wildcats answered with 5 of their own and led 13-6.
Mt Spokane would stretch their lead to 18-11 going into the top of the 7th. University had to score 7 to keep their hopes alive while Mt Spokane and their fans are just trying to grind out 3 outs for the win. The Titans were not going to go quietly and had knocked 6 in and had the bases loaded with 2 outs. The 12th batter came to the plate on a 2-0 count popped up to the infield and Mt Spokane clinched the State Championship.
Congratulations to both teams in an amazing title game. Mt Spokane’s seniors were Ainsley Buchanan, Peyton Bischoff, Cassie Jay and Kali Koeller. The rest of the Wildcats are juniors Sloane Gardner and Lilly Main. The sophomores are Ivy Westermann, Kaydin Braydeen, Makenzie Morris, Addison Jay, Maddy Weltee, Quincy Schuerman and Riley Kinciad and 2 freshmen Emme Bond and Avery Fox. Head coach is Carl Adams and assisted by Trek Davis, Amber Helbling and Alex Schuerman.
The Titans seniors were Allysa Ward, Haley Walker, Jordan Bailey, Natalie Singer, Kaidyn Howard, Abby Watkins, Katie Travis, Tori Javier and Maliyah Mann. The rest of the University squad were juniors Ava Thompson and Anaya Nitschke, sophomores Ava Hubble, Kai Coursey, Claire Fulkerson and Hayden Wheeler and freshmen Grace Schneider and Ella Jensen. Head coach is Bill Plucker and assisted by Amy Korslund, Kysa Jausoro and Gricelda Justice.
ESN talks with the Wildcat Seniors Celebrating their State Championship
ESN talks with Mt Spokane Coach Carl Adams (I mistakenly refer to the Wildcats as the Maverick’s, this oddly is not mixing up Mt Spokane and Moses Lake but rather from covering Mt Spokane’s boys hoops team for the past several years and one of their stars Maverick Sanders. I apologize for the mix-up but the mix-up is Wildcat related.)
Mt Spokane builds thir lead in the bottom of 6
University makes a huge run in the top of 7
The Final Out
3rd/4th Place Game
Walla Walla 31, Columbia River 8
The Blue Devils were ready to finish off a strong tournament after dropping a tough loss to Mt Spokane in the Semi-finals. Walla Walla’s offense was consistent from the start and never let up. Walla Walla improved from last year’s finish of 4th by winning the 3rd place game this season. The senior’s for Walla Walla were Madison Worden, Nicole Bobadilla, Sara Justice, Kylee Garcia and Clarabelle Hall.
Columbia River walks away with their best finish ever taking home 4th place and with only 3 seniors the Rapids look to be a team to contend with next year. Those 3 seniors were Aurora Wiley, Harris Thorp-Haloney and Mia Yanez.
Walla Walla with a bases clearing double
The Blue Devils clinch the 3rd place trophy
11:30am Consolation (Loser Out)
Columbia River 31, Evergreen (Van) 10
Walla Walla 16, Lake Washington 5
Friday, Oct 27
10:00am Opening Round
Walla Walla 15, Juanita 5
Mt Spokane 16, Evergreen (Van) 6
Columbia River 13, Lake Washington 5
University 28, Roosevelt 1
Mt Spokane 20, Walla Walla 17
University 24, Columbia River 5
2:00pm Consolation (Loser out)
Evergreen (Van) 19, Juanita 15
Lake Washington 25, Roosevelt 4