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Warden fastpitch falls in 2B state tournament

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 29, 2022 3:12 PM

YAKIMA – After dominating opponents all season and entering the state tournament with a 24-1 record and the No. 2 seed, Warden fastpitch had state title aspirations at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima this past weekend.

The Lady Cougars soon would have their championship dreams ended by the No. 10 Rainier Mountaineers, losing 16-2 in the second round of the 2B state tournament.

“I think they went in a little nervous today,” Warden fastpitch head coach Randy Wright said. “We have a lot of youth on the team, a lot of young ones.”

Nothing seemed amiss for Warden in the first inning. Sophomore Briannalee Martinez scored on a bunt, and Aliza Leinweber’s RBI single gave the Lady Cougars a quick 2-0 lead. Rainier Azlyn Taylor answered in the second with an RBI triple to cut into the lead, making it a 2-1 ballgame entering the fourth inning.

In the top of the fourth, the Lady Mountaineer became hot. The hits began with a single by Taylor, who was then brought home by teammate Madison Mounts to tie the game. An RBI single by Raychel Hansen, a run scored on a passed ball and a 2 RBI single by Alyssa Lofgren quickly gave Rainier a 6-2 lead.

“I just felt like we needed to dig in and score some runs,” Wright said of his feeling in the dugout during the fourth inning.

The fourth inning wasn’t over when Taylor came up to bat once again. With the bases loaded, Taylor hit a deep shot to the outfield and over the wall for a grand slam. The lead was now 10-2, and the game was blown wide open.

“She was having some control problems, I was just telling her to get on her legs a little more,” Wright said of his trip to the circle to visit with pitcher Kiana Rios in the fourth.

The bats cooled off in the fifth and sixth inning, the lone hit being one of Warden’s Kaylee Erickson. However, a triple by Lofgren and an RBI triple by Brooklynn Swenson were the final at bats for Rios. She was pulled and Alexsus Leinweber took command of the circle, before she too allowed five more runs.

“I was hoping our bats would turn on again, and they never did,” Wright said. “We were just overswinging.”

The run rule was enacted in the bottom of the sixth inning, ending the hopes of a 2B state title for the Lady Cougars. Wright said that despite the loss, the team still had a chance to place third in the state in the consolation bracket.

“I just want them to forget about this game,” Wright said. “That’s the best thing we can do. If you’re not confident you don’t do well, so they gotta get their confidence back.”

Warden fell 5-2 to No. 11 seed Toledo in the first round of the consolation bracket.

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Ian Bivona/Columbia Basin Herald

Warden senior Kiana Rios moves forward for a pitch in the second round of the 2B state tournament on May 27, 2022.

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Ian Bivona/Columbia Basin Herald

Warden sophomore Aliza Leinweber waits on second base during the 2B state tournament on May 27, 2022.

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Ian Bivona/Columbia Basin Herald

Warden junior Kaylee Erickson catches a fly ball in the infield during the 2B state tournament on May 27, 2022.

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Ian Bivona/Columbia Basin Herald

Warden freshman Genesis Ozuna swings at a pitch in the sixth inning of Warden’s 16-2 loss to Rainier on May 27, 2022.

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