YAKIMA — The Moses Lake slowpitch softball team fell short of its ultimate goal at the State Tournament over the weekend in Yakima, but still walked away with hardware as they took fourth place on Saturday.
The Chiefs opened up their State run on Friday against Lewis & Clark. Moses Lake fought back late in the game to come away with the 5-4 win to advance to the semifinals against Central Valley.
Moses Lake head coach Michael Hofheins said the Chiefs simply couldn’t get the sticks or the gloves going in the game, as they fell 11-1 to the eventual State Champions.
Returning to the field on Saturday, the Chiefs met Chiawana in their first game, a team they’d faced in the regular season. The Riverhawks gave Moses Lake plenty of a fight, leading 5-3 after three innings.
The Chiefs were able to respond, as a big fifth inning helped Moses Lake eventually pull away for the 17-7 win to advance to the consolation final against the team they faced to open the tournament, Lewis & Clark.
Moses Lake was able to keep the bats going early, with a three-run inning to start the game. Lewis & Clark responded, however, with three runs of their own. Another pair of three-run innings built a lead as the Chiefs were unable to generate runs late as Moses Lake fell in their final game of the tournament 10-4.
Some of the offensive strengths the Chiefs carried in the regular season didn’t carry over, with a team that knocked countless home runs in the regular season facing deeper fences in Yakima.
“Our game is a power game, this park is not conducive to our style of play,” Hofheins said. “That’s not an excuse, we didn’t adjust. We just couldn’t get those clutch hits in the last half of the game.”
Hofheins said after the game on Saturday that he feels there’s still a lot to be proud of for what his team was able to accomplish this year.
“They’re a fun group of girls to go to battle with every day, fun group of girls to coach,” Hofheins said. “That’s what it’s all about. Teams here are good. You’ve gotta have your A-game every game or you’re gonna get caught.”
Senior Gina Skinner said the success of the regular season helped the team come into the weekend with the confidence they could compete.
“The season built up really well, we got lots of wins, and to come here confident, knowing that we’re good, is really nice to have,” Skinner said. “But, then it’s about pursuing being better than we were and not doubting ourselves. And we need to work on that, and I’m sure in the years to come we’ll do that.”
In their third season even having a slow pitch program, Skinner said the program has continued to build since their first year, and that she feels in the near future they’ll really hit a stride.
Senior Hadleigh Cranston said getting more and more players from the fastpitch team in the spring to come out in the fall has really helped to build the program and make them more competitive.
Cranston added that the slow pitch season has been a fun experience, with less of an edge, giving her and her teammates a lot of time to bond with the spring season still ahead.
Moving forward, Hofheins said he’s going to work to see some of the competition they’ve faced in the State tournament earlier in the season to help prepare his team for what’s ahead of them.
“We need to see competition, it’s a similar problem to what we have in the spring, if we can find a way to see these teams and be in games,” Hofheins said. “You don’t really get sharp when you’re wining 18-1. We can create closeness with scrimmages in our own place, but you can’t replace a game.”
With another postseason trip under their belts in their short tenure as a slowpitch program, Hofheins said the experience will only help his group moving forward.
“Any time you’re put in the fire, it makes your kids better,” Hofheins said. “So our seniors have established this program as one of the top programs in the state and, obviously we finish in the top four. And, next year, we’’ll try and be number one.”