The Blaine fastpitch team had been down a brief gopher hole of poor play, no hitting and roughed up pitching of late. Coming off lopsided losses to 3A power Sedro-Woolley and Anacortes, the Borderites faced the defending 2A state champion Burlington-Edison May 13 at Pipeline Fields.
Blaine coach Tim Esposito preached to his troops the importance of the game. Neither team’s seeding in the upcoming district tournament would be affected, but Esposito was adamant that his girls not take their foot off the gas pedal going into the playoffs.
His players heeded his words, jumping off to an early lead, getting superlative pitching, playing sell-out defense and adding on runs late in the game to beat Burlington-Edison 5-1.
Caitlin Dudley, coming off consecutive bad losses, was brilliant pitching a no-hitter through six innings before yielding three hits in the top of the seventh inning for the Tigers’ lone run. Dudley hurled nine strikeouts against only one walk.
“I do feel a lot more comfortable at home,” Dudley said as she reflected on the two previous losses. Blaine opened the scoring in the first inning putting up three runs on five hits. A single by disruptive lead off hitter Amanda Moore was followed by a sac bunt by Samantha Wallace.
Moore took third on a wild pitch and then scored on an aggressive play at the plate on a ground ball by Stefawn Perrin.
Hits by Dudley, Natalie Sellers and RBI singles by Kailynn Aiken and Suzie Pianki expanded the lead to 3-0. Blaine put the game in motion often getting caught stealing twice but also scoring on the hit and run by Perrin and on a double steal in the sixth inning.
Burlington-Edison starter Brie Lopez, in for Tigers ace Lindsey Dawson, settled down though and didn’t allow a base runner against Blaine until a passed ball on a strike out in the fifth inning.
The scoring swoon caused Esposito to remind his players once again about complacency against the defending state champions, causing the Borderites to react in the seventh. Sellers reached base after being hit with a pitch and Aikin lofted a bloop double down the right field line that went out of play.
One batter later, Brittney Denson hit an RBI single to score Sellers, before the Borderites executed on the double steal for their final run.
“We’re feeling a little better about ourselves,” said Esposito, “but we had to go through a little drama first.”