PORTLAND, Oregon — The Wenatchee Valley College softball team went into the Northwest Athletic Conference’s softball championship, held Thursday through Sunday, at the Delta Park-Owens Sports Complex in Portland, Oregon the No. 14 seed, drawing a tough opponent — No. 3 North Idaho College.
Being from the Eastern Conference, WVC (22-26) and NIC (38-9) had faced each other several times during the regular season. Thursday morning, in their first game of the tournament, WVC met a familiar end to the Cardinals, losing 9-0.
NIC was too difficult at the plate. The Cardinals scored five runs in the first inning. The first three were off of a home run — one in each of the four innings — and the last two came by a double and a triple. They never looked back.
NIC scored nine runs off of eight hits and WVC’s Macy Cordon and Kiley Heinz were solely responsible for all of the Knight’s two hits.
WVC, however, still had a chance to make the championship when they matched up with No. 11 Edmonds Community College later that day and they took full advantage.
It was a slugfest, and it initially appeared as though WVC would be sent home. ECC held a 13-2 lead after four innings but the Knights were blessed by the softball gods in the fifth inning.
They outscored ECC 12-2 by racking up singles to fill bases. Then Maya McGuire stepped to the plate and connected with a clutch home run to drive in three runs. Makayla Sanchez cracked a double and a couple of more singles polished off the inning. They were only down two runs, 14-12.
That momentum spilled over into the last two innings, outscoring ECC 5-1 to gain the lead and advance in the tournament, 19-6. WVC scored 19 runs off 14 hits and ECC scored 16 out of 19 hits.
Heinz led WVC with six RBIs and went 4-for-6. Ashlyn Alexander added four RBIs and went 1-for-3. McGuire had three RBIs off of her home run and went 4-for-6. Sanchez and Kaya Enriquez finished with two RBIs apiece and each went 2-for-4. Cordon finished with another RBI and went 1-for-2.
The Knights advanced to face the No. 12 Lower Columbia College Red Devils (Longview) Friday morning and WVC didn’t disappoint, beating LCC (25--22) by a healthy margin, 16-3.
WVC led with an early 6-1 lead after three innings but then the Knights put the game away in the fourth, connecting on countless singles and constantly filling the bases to add 10 runs in this inning alone. They added two more in the last inning.
WVC scored 18 runs off 18 hits and kept LCC to just three runs off four hits.
Taylor Files pitched a complete game for the Knights giving up four hits, three runs, and five walks but finished with two strikeouts after five innings.
McGuire led the offense with five RBIs and went 4-for-5. Cordon added three RBIs and went 3-for-3. Michael Shea had another three RBIs and went 3-for-4. Enriquez finished with two RBIs and went 2-for-3.
The Knights advanced to face one more team immediately following their win. They met the No. 10 Everett Community College Trojans (27-11) around midday. The Trojans finished second in the Northern Conference.
McGuire started WVC off on the right foot with a homer in the opening inning, giving the Knights a slim 1-0 lead. ECC tied it up in the second and added two more runs in the third to take the lead. WVC chipped at the deficit by outscoring ECC 2-1 in the fifth inning but after a 2-2 tie in the sixth, ECC sealed their one-run lead with another in the seventh inning, winning 7-5.
WVC scored five runs off of eight hits and did a good job holding ECC to seven runs off of 12 hits.
Megan Smit led WVC with two RBIs and went 1-for-4. McGuire, Cordon and Enriquez each added another RBI. Shea threw in two hits and Sanchez and Alexander each added a hit apiece.
The Knights were able to salvage a challenging season by showcasing their grit, resilience and determination in the NWAC softball championship, where the regular season is wiped clean and provides a fresh opportunity for talented teams. Teams like the WVC Knights who made it to the Elite 8 — not a bad way to end things.
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