DISTRICT SOFTBALL UPDATE: Port Angeles seals state berth with blowout win; Sequim wins opener, loses second game

SPANAWAY — Power pitching and ferocious hitting in its Class 2A West Central District pushed Port Angeles to a 10-0 win over Steilacoom in five innings and the program’s fifth consecutive trip to the state softball tournament.

They will face Orting at 11:15 a.m. Saturday at Sprinker Recreation Center for a spot in the district championship.

The Roughriders allowed two base runners all game long, one on a walk by Nizhoni Wheeler and the other an error by Hope O’Conner in relief, but were otherwise perfect in smashing past the Sentinels.

“You expect some nerves in the first game at districts, but we really came to play,” coach Randy Steinman said.

“Nizhoni was great, I don’t think they got a hit off her, and we were able to rest her for an inning.”

Wheeler fanned seven in her four innings of work, allowing no hits, and just the one walk.

Hope O’Conner closed out the game, picking up a strikeout and some district tournament experience.

Port Angeles took care of business early, plating six runs in the bottom of the first.

“We were aggressive at the plate and we did a good job, all through the lineup of putting the bat on the ball,” Steinman said.

Natalie Steinman opened the big inning by crushing a two-run home run deep down the left-field line for her ninth homer of the season. She finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs for the game, missing out on a second homer to deep center by inches in the bottom of the third but driving in the team’s 10th run to set up the early ending.

Brennan Gray poked an RBI single just over shortstop to make it 3-0. Gray moved to second on a well-hit single to right center by Ashley Howell. Howell stole second and a Taylar Clark walk loaded the bases with two outs.

Howell finished 2 for 3.

Nikaila Price popped up a full-count pitch to second base but Steilacoom failed to field the ball and three runners scored to make it 6-0.

Nizhoni Wheeler’s sacrifice fly drove in pinch runner and younger sister Cheyenne Wheeler, who was pinch running after Lauren Lunt singled in the second inning.

Price added an RBI single in the third, Sierra Robinson drove in a run with another single and Steinman’s double closed out the Riders’ scoring.

Sequim splits pair

SPANAWAY —Sequim won its district playoff opener 2-1 over Fife, but fell into the consolation bracket with a 9-1 loss to Eatonville Friday afternoon. The Wolves faced River Ridge in a loser-out contest Friday evening.

Sequim 2, Fife 1

Shelby Jones scattered five hits and one walk while striking out six as Sequim opened the Class 2A West Central District Softball Tournament with a 2-1 win over Fife.

Sequim (11-9) advanced to face Eatonville later Friday afternoon. The winner of that contest earns a state tournament berth.

“She had a real good game against Archbishop Murphy earlier this season,” Wolves coach Tim Lusk said.

“Shelby said this week that she thought she could feel an Archbishop Murphy-type game coming on.”

Jones helped herself with three putouts defensively and was aided by the error-free defense of her teammates, particularly some nifty nabs on hard-hit balls to infielders Jordan Bentz, Chloie Sparks and Bobbie Sparks.

“When we play error-free ball defensively and put the barrel on the ball offensively we are pretty tough,” Lusk said.

Left fielder Maddison Nute also made a good catch on a pop fly early in the conteest. Nute was celebrating her birthday Friday.

The Wolves struck first in the top of the opening innning, when both Sparkssingled and Bentz lined an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.

Sequim stranded base runners at second and third with one out in the top of the fourth. Latisha Robideau struck out and Adrienne Haggerrty missed out on a two-run single by inches when she lined out to second base.

The Wolves manufactured an insurance run in the top of the sixth when Jones singled to right, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by RaeLynn Opdyke and scored on a roped singled to right-center field.

Fife answered back in the bottom of the sixth when Nicole Burns singled to right field, advanced to third on two wild pitches and scored when Sequim threw to first base on a dropped third strike.

Jones got out of the inning and set the Trojands down in order in their final at-bat.

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