WALLA WALLA — After dropping the first game of a softball doubleheader with Columbia Basin College, 6-3, the message from Walla Walla Community College head coach Mark Michaud to his Warriors was simple: execute and capitalize.
“In game one, we missed on a couple opportunities where we had runners in scoring position and we just weren’t able to capitalize on it,” Michaud said. “They were able to capitalize and they made routine plays. Whereas we made routine plays, but we weren’t able to capitalize on our offensive opportunities.”
Michaud’s message resonated in game two, as the Warriors clipped the Hawks, 8-4.
The win gives WWCC (10-11 overall, 8-5 in NWAACC East) a half-game advantage in the loss column over CBC (9-11, 8-6).
“We’re tied with Columbia Basin, so the team wants that so much more,” pitcher Jamie Moe said. “I think you can tell it by the bats in the second game, our team really came alive at the box.”
Moe, who took the complete-game loss in the opener, came back to secure the win in game two. Moe entered the game in the fourth inning of the nightcap, after starter Hanna DeBaugh ran into trouble.
After the Hawks loaded the bases with just one out, CBC’s leadoff hitter Bailey Walthers cut the Warriors’ lead to four with a one-run single. DeBaugh then walked Hannah Sams, which brought in another Hawks’ run.
With WWCC’s six-run lead suddenly trimmed to three, Michaud called down the dugout to his game-one starter, Moe.
“That’s the challenge of softball, in this game you might have been a pitcher who wasn’t having success in game one, but you’ve got to come right back and be able to possibly pitch and be in the heat of the game again,” Michaud said.
Moe, who said she didn’t expect to pitch in game two, responded by striking out the next batter and inducing a ground-ball out to end the inning without allowing another run.
“Coming in for the second game, I think I threw way harder and way better in the second game,” Moe said. “That kind of gave me a boost for the second game.”
Moe went the distance from there, as she allowed just two hits and no runs over the remaining three innings en route to the win.
“When you’re pitching, it’s all about your team,” she said. “If they can hit the ball, that just gives you more confidence. Especially when you’re up, you know if you have a runner on base — you’re fine. You just have to get outs so you don’t have all that pressure on you.”
The Warriors’ offense, which clubbed 10 hits but left eight runners stranded in game one, found various ways to score runs in the nightcap.
It started from the jump, as Brook Simpson opened the game with a double in the bottom of the first.
After Marisa Gonzalez reached on a walk, the WWCC duo executed a double steal.
But instead of stopping at third, Simpson swiped home after the Hawks threw down to second in hopes of tagging out Gonzalez.
The Warriors then took the lead in the bottom of the second, as Courtni Verity, who was hit by a pitch, and Sam Robillard, who walked, came in on an error by Columbia Basin’s Justine Nuckols.
With a 3-1 lead, the Warriors tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the third from a rather unexpected source.
After DeBaugh helped herself with a two-run single, it was Verity who blasted a two-run home run over the left-field fence to give WWCC a 7-1 lead.
“That was her first home run of the season and she would be the first to tell you she’s not necessarily considered a home run hitter,” Michaud said. “She got a good swing and got the barrel on the ball and got it up in the air. It was awesome.”
After a disappointing ending to game one, Michaud described his team’s performance in the nightcap as tough and gritty.
“They very easily could’ve just rolled over and we didn’t,” he said. “We came back and played a cleaner game and went up there and were relaxed.”
The Warriors open the NWAACC Crossover tournament in Yakima against Chemeketa on Saturday.
Article by Alex Field of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin