EJ softball girls sink Pirates, then stumble

By Brian MacKenzie And Ethan Riker
Posted 5/15/24



Offensive fireworks and defensive errors highlighted East Jefferson’s 31-21 fastpitch road win over Vashon Island on May 1.

Shaking off a late-season scoring slump, …

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EJ softball girls sink Pirates, then stumble




Offensive fireworks and defensive errors highlighted East Jefferson’s 31-21 fastpitch road win over Vashon Island on May 1.

Shaking off a late-season scoring slump, the Rivals’ bats came alive early in the game. Aggressive baserunning punished the Pirates for several throwing errors, enabling EJ to rack up 10 runs in the first two innings.

However, Vashon also hit well, and capitalized on errant Rivals throws to seize a commanding 17-10 lead by the end of the second inning.

“It was a game full of errors,” lamented Rivals third baseman Kaetyn Riley, a Chimacum sophomore.

“We felt rushed,” said shortstop Riley Jo Spainauer-Oas, also a Chimacum sophomore. “We have to work on making the throw first, then the play.”

Both teams tightened up their defenses during the scoreless third inning.

Back-to-back doubles by Breanne Huntingford and Makayla Matheson enabled EJ to add four more runs in the top of the fourth, but the Pirates responded with a homer and two more runs in the bottom of the inning to gain a 20-14 advantage.

Undaunted, the Rivals rallied in the top of the fifth. Designated hitter Azusa Kunii of Port Townsend doubled to drive in the first run. Then, Matheson and Riley each piled on with two-RBI doubles. When Matheson came up in the order again, the PTHS junior hit yet another RBI double–her third in a row.

On the strength of EJ’s epic 14-run rally, the Rivals seized a 28-20 lead, and held it by shutting out Vashon in the bottom of the fifth.

 In the top of the 6th, Chimacum freshman Gracie Smith homered, and Spainauer-Oas extended East Jefferson’s lead by belting a two-RBI double. The Rivals remained stingy in the bottom of the final inning, allowing just one run to seal a 31-21 win.

 EJ’s catcher Huntingford proved key to her team’s defensive recovery. Behind the plate, she stopped errant pitches before they could get past her, and her accurate arm kept Vashon’s confident baserunners at bay. The Chimacum freshman also led EJ in scoring with six runs in six at-bats.

 The Rivals recorded just their second win of the season without Head Coach Chad Witheridge. With Assistant Coach Emmanuel Abbott at the helm, “There was definitely a different energy with Coach E.,” said Riley.

 With the win, EJ (2-7) rose to fifth place in the seven-team Nisqually League, while dropping Vashon (1-6) to sixth place.

 Two days later, third-place Seattle Christian (5-2) blew out the Rivals in Port Townsend by a lopsided score of 27-3.

 “We weren’t mentally prepared for the game,” said Vailolo.

 Early in the game, “there were minor errors that got in people’s heads and it just continued to bring the team down,” said Huntingford. “Which then caused error after error.”

 For the second consecutive game, Smith hit a solo home run..

 On May 8th, the Rivals lost both games in a road doubleheader at Bellevue Christian.

 The first game proved reasonably close. “We were able to hit off them,” said Huntingford. “We just needed to run a little faster to get to the bases.” BC pulled away in the end to win, 5-1.

 Huntingford scored the Rivals’ only run on a single followed by three stolen bases.

 EJ’s offensive production picked up in the second half. “Almost everyone hit the ball or got on base.” said Huntingford. But “our pitching got off and we walked lots of girls. Again, small errors were turning into big ones that just continued to repeat.”

The three losses dropped EJ to 2-10, still in sixth place. BC improved to 3-9 and secured 4th place.