Sports roundup: Ten Borderites qualify for track & field state tournament, softball loses in districts, multiple athletes named to All-NWC



Sometimes, the other team gets hot.

In two consecutive games at the District 1A Tournament on May 16 in Lynden, that’s just what happened to the Blaine softball team.

After a stellar season that saw the Borderites finish near the top of the Northwest Conference standings and enter the tournament with the second seed, the Borderites lost its first game in a back-and-forth battle against Lynden Christian, 4-3, and couldn’t finish a comeback against Nooksack Valley in the loser-out game, losing 13-8.

“The thing with softball, the best team doesn’t always win,” coach Riley Miller said. “It’s just a matter of who shows up.”

The first game featured multiple lead changes, and Jordyn Vezzetti’s fifth-inning RBI triple to score Shaylie Daniels tied the game up late, but the Lyncs answered with a RBI triple of its own to knock the Borderites into the losers’ bracket.

The elimination game against Nooksack Valley (a doubleheader immediately following the loss to Lynden Christian) went to extra innings after Blaine rallied for a miraculous five-run bottom of the sixth inning. But Nooksack Valley answered in the top of the eighth with another five runs, and the Borderites couldn’t get another rally going.

“That game [against Nooksack Valley] showed what kind of character my girls had and how much fight they had,” Miller said. “I got every last drop out of them effort-wise. They left it out there and it was one of those things where you lose two and you’re done, and that’s unfortunately what we did.”

Miller said after the double-header was over, Bakker had pitched 15 innings and “almost 300 pitches” through two games – something the team is rarely forced to ask of the young pitcher.

Jordyn Vezzetti and senior first baseman Teya Zaddack each drove in three runs on the game, but it wasn’t enough to put the Borderites through to the next round and into state contention.

Miller said she has been coaching the upperclassmen on the team since they were in middle school, and seeing what they have accomplished over the last four years has been a dream come true.

Jordyn and Isabella Vezzetti, Bakker, Zaddack and Millie Berkeley will graduate and depart the program after multiple winning seasons and a deep state playoff run in 2023.

“They are just so, so special and I know whatever they do going forward, they are going to do amazing things,” Miller said of the senior class. “It makes me super emotional because I was 18 when I started with them and now they’re my age when I met them. I have no words for them,

they’re just a really good group of kids that are super bonded.”

Bakker finished with a 14-7 record, 124 innings pitched, 79 hits allowed, 35 earned runs allowed, 218 strikeouts to 82 walks, and held a league-leading 1.98 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

Daniels slugged 25 RBI, five doubles, a triple and three home runs and finished the season with an outstanding .516 average, .610 on base percentage, and .774 slugging percentage.

Miller said seniors Berkeley, Zaddack and sophomore Aaliyah Bowman, all contributed immensely to the team while flying below the radar.

Although it wasn’t the end to the season the program wanted, Bakker and Daniels get the consolation prize of being named to the All-NWC team, with Bakker named first-team pitcher and Daniels second-team catcher. The Borderites finished the year with a 14-7 record, going 11-4 in NWC play.

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Boys Golf

In a nasty, blustery day at Riverside Golf Club in Chehalis on May 21, Blaine’s Uno Nevarez and Ellis Griffin couldn’t make the cut for round two of the 1A State Championship, ending their season one day shy of when they hoped.

Head coach Rick Shockey said the goal at the beginning of this spring was to play at state. That goal was reached, but Nevarez and Griffin both wanted to lift hardware and emerge victorious out of the massive, 60-golfer field.

“They knew they could shoot better than what they did,” Shockey said. “But you can tell your kids and your grandkids, ‘I made it to state in golf.’”

Shockey said he was impressed with how many talented athletes joined the team this year, with the program boasting 17 golfers, all of whom Shockey said improved over the course of the season. As a league policy, any golfer who shoots a 115 two games in a row is demoted to junior varsity – it never happened this year, a testament to the depth of talent on the team, Shockey said.

“I’m really proud of all 17 kids,” Shockey said. “The success that they had, they worked hard for. They were excited, and the camaraderie between the varsity and JV teams was something you dream about.”

Shockey finished his final season as head coach of Blaine boys golf after over 15 years heading the program.

Looking back over years of talented golfers who grew up in this community, Shockey said coaching not only great golfers, but great student-athletes has been an honor.

“They’re student-athletes,” Shockey said with an emphasis on student. “Not only are they

working hard on their golf game and their athletics, but they’re also working hard in the classroom, and they’re not just one-sport athletes. In a small community like this, the kids can’t do just one sport, the school won’t survive.”

Track and Field

10 Blaine track and field athletes across seven different events are headed to Yakima for the 1B/2B/1A State Championship on May 23.

At the 1A District 1/2 Championships in Granite Falls on May 16, both 4x100-meter relay teams finished top-five to qualify for state. Jaiden Paez, Dylan Johnson, Justin Minjarez and Beckum Bleazard ran a 44.61 time for fifth place in the boys final, and Cheyenne Parker, Brietta Sandell, Kaitlyn Ritter Von Trautmann, and Juliana Zuzarte placed third with a time of 51.0.

Parker, a freshman, also qualified for the 100- and 200-meter events at state, leading the program by earning a spot in three different races. She ran a fifth place time of 13.16 in the 100-meter dash, and finished second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.28.

Sandell, another member of the girls relay team, will compete in the 100-meter hurdles after running a fifth-place time of 17.1.

Freshman Teia Dube was one of four state qualifiers in the high jump to record a 4-8.0 jump, tying for second place. Jayden Winslow rounded out the Borderite field team for the state championship with a PR, fourth place finish in shot put, throwing 43-8.0.

All told, the Borderite contingent headed to Yakima is relatively young, with only one senior – relay sprinter Justin Minjarez – on the state roster. Of the 10 players headed to the state tournament, half are underclassmen, with three freshmen – Parker, Ritter Von Trautmann and Dube, filling out the squad.

The 1B/2B/1A State Championship will begin with field events on Thursday, May 23 at 3:40 p.m. at Zaepfel Stadium at Eisenhower High School, S 40th Avenue, Yakima.

The event will continue throughout the weekend and conclude May 25.

Boys Soccer

Four Blaine boys soccer players were named to the 1A All-Northwest Conference team after great individual performances throughout a season that saw the Borderites finish with a 9-5-2 (4-3-1 NWC) record.

Juniors Isaiah Zuch and Blake Koreski were named all-conference as forwards, junior Dmitriy Yuryev was named as a midfielder, and sophomore Maxim Yuryev earned the honor on defense.

Eighth Grade Baseball

The Blaine middle school 8th grade baseball team was crowned Northwest Conference Champions after finishing the season with a stellar 8-2 record.

Head coach Brian Van Winkle said the season came down to a final game against Lynden, with the Blaine boys coming back from a 5-2 deficit and winning on a walk-off to clinch the conference championship.

Van Winkle said the team is excited to make the jump to the next level and play for Blaine high school, especially after attending high school varsity games and practices throughout the season. Some high school coaches even attended the 8th grade team’s final games, Van Winkle said.

“The boys were extra fired up about them being there and performing and showing out for their future coaches, hopefully,” Van Winkle said. “I’m sure that there’s going to be several boys from this team that will play possibly next year on the varsity team.”

Every team, every season, is different. Not every team will win its conference, let alone have multiple players continue on to compete at the next level. Knowing that, Van Winkle said he was happy to honor their middle school careers with a championship.

“It was a complete honor for me to get in with this group of guys and be able to work with them for two years,” Van Winkle said. “They’re good people, they’re good young men, and they’re great ball players. And absolutely the best group of parents, very supportive.”


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