FORKS — After a rousing 11-4 win in the first game of an afternoon softball twinbill with Raymond at Tillicum Park, Forks’ bats didn’t go quiet, but their voices fell silent in an 8-5 loss.
The Spartans are as loud in the dugout as any NCAA College World Series softball squad with a variety of chants and cheers designed for individual players, game-specific situations and even player numbers.
You’ll hear the team’s chant for leadoff hitter Kadie Woods; “No. 8 is a dominator for catcher Kyra Neel; and a “Niner, Niner, hit a line driver” ode for No. 9, Chloe Leverington.
The chants aren’t always original, but they are personalized, Neel said.
“When we play other teams, we hear them, and we will adopt them and change them for us,” Neel said.
The Spartans growl when a Forks batter fights off a pitch for a foul ball, and they anticipate a hitter earning a walk on three-ball counts to try and get into the head of the opposing pitcher.
And in Game One, there was plenty to be excited about. Forks pounded out 15 hits, led by Neel, who went 4 for 4 with a triple and three RBI. Kyrissa Duncan went 3 for 3 with a triple, and a 3-for-4 hitting performance by Leverington included a triple, a double and three RBIs.
Leverington also struck out nine Seagulls in four innings of work to earn the win.
Spartans coach Traci Kratzer said the first game was a better reflection of her young team’s capabilities.
“We played our normal game, and the second game we did not play our normal game. It was like a light switch [went off],” Kratzer said. “They are usually talkative, but for some reason it shut off. We will work it out tomorrow in practice.”
Forks wasn’t off at the plate in Game Two, totaling 13 hits, but some miscues behind the plate and some baserunning mistakes kept the team subdued.
“Normally, we like to talk a lot, and it helps us to stay hyped up, but when we are not hyped up, we don’t have the Spartan Way,” Neel said. “First game we had it, second game we lost it.”
Leverington struck out 12 but wasn’t as consistent with her command in the second game, and freshman catcher Keira Johnson had some early-inning troubles adjusting to balls in the dirt before Neel swapped positions with her.
“It was my bad,” Kratzer said. “I put in a younger catcher who isn’t used to her. We have to have her catch Chloe more in practice.”
A change in home plate umpires also meant a change in strike zones.
“Different ump; we lost the strike zone [from the first game],” Neel said.
Neel tripled again in game two, going 3 for 4 with an RBI. Leverington also had an RBI double down the third-base line, while Elizabeth Soto went 2 for 3 and drove in two runs for the Spartans.
Duncan continued her solid day, going 3 for 4.
“Kyrissa Duncan hit some really good balls today; her bat was on,” Kratzer said.
Soto opened the top of the seventh with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second base. After a strikeout, Neel singled with two outs, but Forks couldn’t pull off a two-out rally.
“I just wanted to win,” Neel said. “I tried to hype everybody up to get the second game, but we couldn’t rally.”
Kratzer said her team can produce even more than the 28 combined hits the Spartans amassed in Tuesday’s games.
“I’m not going to say today was as good as a hitting day as what we are capable of, even in the first game,” Kratzer said. “But like I told the girls, we can always take from what we have done and not done, and learn from that and be better players.”
Forks (5-1) is at Ocosta for a doubleheader today.
Forks 11, Raymond 4
R 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 — 4 4 3
F 3 3 2 3 0 0 x — 11 15 2
WP: C. Leverington LP: I. Silvernail
Raymond — I. Silvernail 6 IP, 11 R, 15 H, 3 BB, 5 H.
Forks — Leverington 4 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 9 K, 2 BB, HB; Wood 3 IP, 4 R, H, 4 BB, 4 K.
Forks — Neel 4-4, 3B, 3 RBI; C. Leverington 3-4, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI; Duncan 3-4, 3B; Wood 2-3, ROE, RBI; Rigby 1-3, RBI.
Raymond 8, Forks 5
F 0 1 1 0 3 0 0 — 5 13 2
R 1 1 0 5 1 1 x — 8 6 1
WP: Swogger LP: C. Leverington
Raymond — Swogger 7 IP, 5 R, 13 H, 3 BB, 4 K.
Forks — Leverington 6 IP, 8 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 12 K.
Forks — Neel 3-4, 3B, RBI; Duncan 3-4, Soto 2-3, 2 RBI; C. Leverington 1-4, 2B, RBI.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.