SPORTS: A juggernaut named Forks softball headed to regionals
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Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News
Forks 10U pitcher Jayden Olson covers home to tag out a Hoquiam runner during pool play earlier in the state tournament in Othello. Forks beat Hoquiam 12-2 this time and then defeated Hoquiam 3-0 in the championship game Sunday.

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By Brad LaBrie

Peninsula Daily News

OTHELLO — The Forks 10U Babe Ruth softball team should have a hurricane named after it.

Forks didn't just win state, but it completely tore through the competition, outscoring opponents 85-3 while earning a perfect 6-0 record at the North Washington Babe Ruth tournament this past week.

The team doesn't have much time to savor the first-ever state championship for Forks softball as it hits the road today for the regional tournament in Meridian, Idaho.

Opening ceremonies are at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Settler's Park in Meridian with regional pool play starting Thursday and ending Friday. The semifinals and regional championship game are Saturday.

Forks earned the right to represent North Washington by shutting out nemesis Hoquiam 3-0 Sunday in the state championship game.

That's as close as any team got to beating Forks at state.

Earlier in the tourney, Forks stomped Hoquiam 12-2 in pool play but don't let that score fool you because these two teams are even-steven at 3-3 in head-to-head competition this summer.

“We beat them when it counted,” Forks head coach Tim Adams said.

Hoquiam had beaten Forks earlier in ASA tournaments in Kelso and Chehalis.

Forks had captured second and third at those earlier tournaments.

Experience and head-to-head games with Hoquiam probably toughened up Forks for state, which few observers expected to run roughshod over the other best teams in northern Washington.

Forks has been playing in the same tournaments that the Port Angeles Impact softball teams have been playing, Adams said.

“We have a lot of experience,” Adams added.

“We have been running hard, just like the Port Angeles Impact teams.”

It all came together for Forks at state as every aspect of the team's game came together.

Everybody on the team hit well in the tourney, Adams said.

The three runs in the state title game was the lowest run total for Forks during the week.

There were games that Forks scored 23, 19, 18 and 12 runs.

“The whole team overall hit really well,” Adams said.

“We had lots and lots of hits, and lots of RBIs.”

Kierra Brandt led the hit parade by getting on base safely in 20 of the 22 times she was at bat.

Brandt had eight singles and four doubles as she batted .857 for the tourney.

Catcher Rian Peters hit .667 with eight singles and two doubles while Lanie Baker hit .466 with seven timely singles.

Baker had three RBI in the 3-0 win over Hoquiam in the state title game.

She knocked in Brandt early in the game, and then in the top of the sixth she had a two-RBI single with two outs, bringing home both Peters and Brandt to break the game open.

Also hitting well in the tourney were Emily Adams, who batted .444; Madison Davis with a .375 batting average; and pitcher Jayden Olson, who hit .357 with a double.

“Everybody on the team scored at least two runs in the tournament,” Jack Brandt, who compiles and keeps the stats for the team, said.

“The whole lineup hit and scored. We crushed people.”

In addition, the pitching was stellar as the top two pitchers combined to allow just the three runs in six games.

Olson and Chloe Leverington shared the throwing duties during the tourney.

Against Hoquiam in the championship game, the two combined for the two-hit shutout.

Leverington started the game, going the first four innings, while Olson — who had pitched six innings the day before against host Othello — shut Hoquiam down in the final two innings.

For the tourney, Olson struck out 21 while walking five and allowing just five hits in 11 innings.

Leverington was even more impressive, striking out 32 while walking just two and spreading out six hits in 15 innings.

“Our two pitchers did not hit a batter in the entire tournament,” Brandt said.

“That is pitching with great command.”

Defense was strong, too, for the week-long tourney.

“We did not have too many errors,” Adams said. “And when runners got on base, our catcher [Rian Peters] has a cannon [for an arm].”

Forks is four-deep in the pitching staff with Emily Adams and Natalie Lausche at the No. 3 and 4 positions.

“Emily and Natalie are our younger pitchers,” Adams said. “We didn't need them at state, but we thought we would use them when Jayden got hurt right before the Othello game.”

Olson, though, recovered and ended up going the distance in the semifinal game, giving up just one run.

It helped that Forks had a large fan base at state.

“We did have a lot of fans at the tournament, so did Port Angeles,” Adams said.

Longtime North Olympic and Babe Ruth official James Lunt of Port Angeles had this to say about his observation of Forks' state championship game:

“Forks took an early 1-0 lead, but everyone knew that wouldn't be the final score, and the question was when perennial powerhouse Hoquiam would come alive.

“It never happened.

“Forks scored two more in the top of the sixth, and when Hoquiam went down peacefully in the bottom of the sixth, the [Forks] stands exploded.

“For Forks, which had never even witnessed a championship presentation in Babe Ruth play, let alone been part of one, it was a pretty good ending to a tournament.”

Next up for Forks 10U is to try to keep the miracle alive by placing in the regional championships, which would be another first for Forks summer softball.

Last modified: July 15. 2013 6:41PM
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