Ephrata softball eyes district championship in rubber match with East Valley

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Ephrata pitcher Rylee Peters delivers to the plate earlier in the season.

SELAH — The Ephrata softball program continues to make history.

Its first win over East Valley came two years ago. Last year, Othello went down. This year, three wins over 2A state tournament stalwart Selah checked off another box.

Now, a district championship and state tournament berth is on the line when the Tigers return to Carlon Park to face the top-seeded Red Devils.

“We’re going to go out and we’re going to play our game,” head coach Heather Wood said. “We need to make sure we’re doing everything that we’ve been training for all year in that game.”

Perhaps a team with one senior reaching the district championship should come as a surprise.

But Wood knows the work her group of underclassmen as put in since middle school.

“Most of the players that are on this year have played together for probably about four years so they’ve been working hard when they were 12 years old to be in this situation,” she said. “It’s great because they have played together, they know each other so well. That has helped a lot this season.”

Ephrata opened this season with nine straight wins, including a 3-0 decision against East Valley, before the Red Devils responded with an 11-1 win in the nightcap to hand the Tigers their first loss of the season. Both teams finished with identical 11-2 league records, but East Valley was one spot higher in the number draw to earn the No. 1 district seed.

For a win in the rubber match, Wood just wants her team to stick to the fundamentals.

“I think that if all my girls can make contact with the ball I think it’s going to be a good game,” she said. “I think if we field the ball the way that we do at practice then I think it’s going to be a great game. It just depends on if we show up ready to play or not.”

A win pushes Ephrata straight into the state tournament. A loss would mean a crossover game with a Great Northern League opponent on May 18.

“This team is ready to reach the goals they’ve set forth,” Wood said. “Every day we talk about them, every day we bring them back to a discussion and they’re ready. We talked about it today. We’re like you guys have 10 practices left. What are you going to do with those 10 practices? They’re ready. They’re ready for the challenges that they’re ready to face.”

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