Tumwater routs top-ranked Othello for third softball title in school history

·4 min read
Steve Bloom/sbloom@theolympian.com

When Zoe Fields raced home on a passed ball, Tumwater’s dugout paused. They had taken a 13-3 lead in the sixth inning of Saturday’s 2A title game, but were unsure whether the ten-run rule was in effect.

Once the home plate umpire made the game-ending signal, players stormed Fields at home plate. Tumwater had just captured their first state title since 2006. And they routed top-seeded Othello at Carlon Park in Selah to do it.

“It’s for Tumwater,” said coach Ashley Andrews. “Our high school (talks) about pride, tradition and courage... this win was about Tumwater. And we’re really proud of that.”

Ace pitcher Ella Ferguson tossed a complete game — in all four of Tumwater’s state wins, to boot — and mashed a three-run homer in the win. She surrendered a single run in three separate frames, but avoided the “big inning” to keep the T-Birds in front.

“She threw strikes,” Andrews said. “And that’s huge. We (say to) throw strikes and let your defense work, and she did that. The Othello fan base was just loud and crazy and awesome for them, but we talked about just staying focused on to the next pitch.”

Tumwater jumped to an early 3-0 lead behind freshman catcher Jaime Haase’s three-run blast in the first inning. Ferguson’s three-run home run came in the fifth. Aly Waltermeyer, one of five Tumwater seniors, swatted another pair of homers.

Othello’s Natalie Martinez led off the fifth with a homer, which cut the Husky deficit to three, 5-2.

Tumwater plated a run in the bottom of the frame before Ferguson’s three-run blast gave the T-Birds a 9-2 lead.

A four-run sixth capped by Fields’ game-winning scamper home on a passed ball ended the contest.

Just seven miles away, Tumwater’s baseball team took home the 2A championship at County Stadium in Yakima in a 1-0 win over Columbia River. The school’s softball team made sure to attend, mere hours after securing their own title.

“I mean, what a cool day for Tumwater High School,” Andrews said.

Tumwater last appeared in the state title game in 2012, but lost to W.F. West in a rout, 15-3. The Bearcats, an Evergreen Conference-rival and perennial contender, lost in the 2019 title game and hoped to return as this season’s second seed.

The T-Birds played spoiler. The conference hierarchy shifted.

Tumwater sought revenge on their familiar foes, and won in eight innings in Saturday’s state semifinals, 5-3. The schools met previously for three regular season contests — Tumwater took two of three — and the Bearcats took home the district title over the T-Birds on May 20, 4-2.

Tumwater’s semifinal win clinched the five-game season series, 3-2. It’s the best high school rivalry Andrews has ever seen.

“They’re an awesome team,” she said. “But to get that win over them, when it really mattered, was huge. (It was) such a confidence boost.”

Tumwater “felt disrespected” entering the state tournament. They wanted to belong among the best. Othello had yet to meet the T-Birds this season, which Andrews considered an advantage.

“We can hit the ball,“ Andrews said, “and they hadn’t seen a pitcher like ours, I don’t think. Really, ever.”

As for the five seniors on Tumwater’s squad, Saturday marked their second and last chance to make a title run. In 2019, the T-Birds secured a state berth but fell quickly in the first round. The pandemic prevented statewide competition for each of the next two seasons, leaving this weekend as their final shot.

“When you put together a team, you want to be peaking at the end,” Andrews said. “And that’s what the seniors really talked about. We’ve worked really hard, but now’s the time to go out and just have fun. Find joy in the game. Because we did that ... the win was just that much more sweet.”

Tumwater’s (22-2, 15-1) season ends with the 2A EvCo crown, plus second-place honors in the District 4 tournament. Saturday’s state title marked the third in school history.

“We felt really disrespected all year by so many people, and we went into the state tournament with a little chip on our shoulder,” Andrews said. “We wanted to show 2A state that we know how to play ball.”

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