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Mavs bounce back from CBBN title loss, advance to state

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 23, 2023 1:20 AM

EAST WENATCHEE — Despite a 5-3 loss to Eastmont in the Columbia Basin Big-Nine district title game on Saturday, the Moses Lake Mavericks rallied with a 9-8 extra-innings win over West Valley (Yakima) later in the day to move on to the 4A state tournament.

“We’re super excited to have qualified for the tournament,” Moses Lake Head Coach Mike Hofheins said. “We feel like we underachieved last year, felt like we should have been there last year and didn’t make that happen. For us to make it happen this year was one of our goals that we have checked off.”

Moses Lake led 2-1 over Eastmont after the top of the second inning, scoring both runs off of bases-loaded walks. The lead was short-lived, as an Eastmont grand slam quickly gave the Wildcats a 5-2 lead that held for the remainder of the game.

“That home run (Eastmont’s Brittany Howe) hit was fair by inches – it’s a game of inches, and that one didn’t go our way,” Hofheins said. “That ball’s fouled, and it’s probably a different game.”

The Mavs added another run in the top of the seventh off an RBI double by junior Mikayla Schwartz but weren’t able to add any more runs and fell 5-3 to the Wildcats.

“(Eastmont pitcher Brittany Howe’s) a great player and she was pitching well,” Hofheins said. “You’re going to have chances, but they’re tough to catch. Nobody’s going to score a bunch of runs off her, so you’ve got to take advantage of chances when they come and we didn’t quite push enough across.”

The loss forced Moses Lake into a loser-out game against West Valley, who defeated Wenatchee 17-0 earlier on Saturday.

“It’s a tough situation because the team you’re playing is coming off a win,” Hofheins said. “I’m no sports psychologist, but they’re coming off a win and we’re coming off a hugely disappointing loss. You just have to flush it, rebound and get back on the horse. It’s not easy.”

After scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-4 lead, West Valley answered to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning. Once the bottom of the seventh and the entire eighth inning fell scoreless, the Rams scored twice in the top of the ninth to take an 8-6 lead.

Moses Lake got a run back on an RBI single by Schwartz, and three at-bats later, senior Jadelyn Balderas hit a ground ball that sent home freshman Caitlin Decubber and Schwartz for a walk-off 9-8 win.

“She’s (Balderas) overachieved all year, and to have a senior do it is super special,” Hofheins said. “I talked to her after the game, I think that’s her first ever walk-off hit. The girls are super excited for her. She’s played so well this whole season, so consistent. It was with two strikes, so for her to just not flinch with two strikes and keep battling was unbelievable.”

Senior Jazlynn Torres batted in five runs in the win over West Valley.

“If I was going to rank my clutch performers of all time in my coaching career, she’s definitely one of the top in my list,” Hofheins said.

Hofheins also credited junior catcher Trinity Nations for stepping into the lineup with ease for the previous three games.

“She’s played beyond expectations, I’m super proud of her for not blinking,” Hofheins said. “‘Okay, I’m in, let’s go.’ She’s played super well, super proud of her effort the last three games behind the dish.”

The Mavs were given the No. 13 seed in the 4A state tournament, where they will play against No. 4 Richland in the first round. Moses Lake played the Bombers earlier this season, an 11-9 loss on April 12.

“We’re going to have to grind it out, and we’re going to have to battle,” Hofheins said.

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

Box Score

Vs. Eastmont

ML: 0-2-0-0-0-0-1 3

EM: 1-4-0-0-0-0-X 5

Vs. West Valley

WV: 1-0-1-0-2-0-2-0-2 8

ML: 2-2-0-0-0-2-0-0-3 9

photo

Ian Bivona

Moses Lake junior Morgan Ross pitches against Eastmont in the Columbia Basin Big-Nine district title game.

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Ian Bivona

Moses Lake senior Jazlynn Torres batted in five runs in Saturday afternoon’s 9-8 win over West Valley (Yakima).