SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS: Quilcene Rangers qualify for state tournament

QUILCENE — It’s been six years, but the Quilcene Rangers softball rebuild is nearly finished.

The Rangers qualified for the state 1B tournament by beating Muckleshoot 14-4 on Tuesday to win the Sea-Tac 1B League title and the District 2 championship.

“After we made the state championship game in 2018, we started over,” said coach and athletic director Mark Thompson. “We’re on the cusp of that rebuild being done.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was especially tough on small schools, which wiped out the 1B state tournaments in both 2020 and 2021.

At the 1B level, not a lot of schools play softball. Quilcene was only able to play 11 games, but they went 9-2 in those games.

“It’s harder than it used to be. We used to be able to roll into North Kitsap and win,” Thompson said.

“Our players work really hard. They like each other. They play hard and are enthusiastic. They take practice seriously,” said Thompson. He said the team is a great hitting squad and its pitching and defense has been improving all season.

Thompson said sophomore lead pitcher Abby Ward has shown a lot of promise this year, as has eighth-grader Charlotte Fay, who is already hitting 50 mph on her pitches.

The team is still very young with only a couple of seniors. One of them, Savannah McBride, is the leadoff hitter. Thompson said she scores a lot of runs and steals a lot of bases for the Rangers. First baseman Ashley Jones is the senior captain.

Destiny Hack is one of the big sluggers on the team, with a batting average over .500. Thompson said that Sierra Graunke played her way into a starting position in left field with “big hits in big spots,” and that Jayden Talley has played a great shortstop for the Rangers all year.

The Rangers get a long break to the state tournament, which begins May 26 in Yakima. Thompson said he doesn’t mind the 10-day break and gives the team lots of time to practice.

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