Shelby Lott bunts as her juniors squad looks to pick up a win at the state tourney. Photo by Lisa Jensen
If Sequim weren't considered a hotbed of softball talent before the Little League state tournaments, it likely is now.
Two Sequim teams placed in the top four in their respective divisions as Washington State Little League softball playoff tournaments concluded last week.
Sequim's juniors and Sequim's 10- and 11-year-old all-stars both went 2-2 to earn fourth place.
"We're very pleased - we outdid our expectations," said Donny Sparks, manager of the 10- and 11-year-olds. "(It was) a team effort."
Dave Bentz, manager of the juniors squad, echoed the sentiment.
"You couldn't ask for a better group of kids and families, a supporting cast," he said. "Hopefully we can do it again next year."
After splitting their first two games in Vancouver, Wash., Sequim juniors (13- and 14-year-olds) topped Battle Ground 6-1 on July 19. Makayla Bentz pitched four solid innings and got good relief from Olivia Kirsch. The team got solid defensive plays from MaryLu Clift and Hannah Grubb.
The win helped Sequim advance to the consolation semifinals where they dropped a 9-3 decision to Northeast/District VIII (Snohomish/Woodinville area), the eventual state champ.
"Defensively throughout the whole tournament," Bentz said, "all three pitchers (Makayla Bentz, Olivia Kirsch, Melissa Lewis) did well. Our downfall was we got out-hit in the games we lost."
Alexas Besand was a star hitter for the juniors, going 12-for-14 in the four games. Bentz said the whole team played great defense, particularly Clift and catcher Bailey Rhodefer.
In the 10- and 11-year-olds tourney in Yacolt, Sequim's all-stars split their first two games, then posted a dramatic 8-7 win against Kent/Auburn on July 19 to advance in the consolation bracket.
Down 5-0 earlier in the game, Sequim chipped away to get within one (7-6) in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, Sequim got a two-run single from Allysen Montelius. Jordan Bentz scored the winning run after she was caught in a rundown between third base and home plate.
Sequim's 10s and 11s then had a chance for revenge as they played Everett, the team that topped Sequim 10-0 in the opening round. But Everett proved tough the second time around, too, eliminating Sequim by a 6-0 score.
"Team play helped us overcome some pretty big odds," Sparks said.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.