PORT ANGELES — Bouncing back from a disappointing loss the day before, the Port Angeles softball team used power and great pitching to beat Sequim 5-1 on Friday, winning outright another Olympic League championship.
The Roughriders needed the win to earn an undisputed league title. North Kitsap, after beating the Riders 11-10 on Thursday, still had a chance to tie for the league championship.
Port Angeles has won league softball titles in 2022, 2021, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015. There was no season in 2020.
It was a well-played game by both teams, with only one error in the entire contest, by Sequim. Both teams made great defensive plays to keep their opponents in check.
Port Angeles won because they simply hit a pair of balls the Sequim players couldn’t get to. Lily Halberg hit a home run and Natalie Robinson hit a huge three-run home run that was the difference in the game.
Teagan Clark allowed a run in the first inning on an RBI single by Mia Pozernik in the first inning. After that, she kept the Sequim hitters in check. She allowed a single to Christy Grubb in the third and a two-out double by Michaela Green in the fifth.
“I was proud of them. They put the ball in play, they just hit it right at people,” said Sequim coach Mike McFarlen. “[Pitcher] Angel [Wagner] kept us in it all game.”
The good news for Sequim is that Lainey Vig came in to pitch the sixth inning. It was her first game pitching since very early in the season when she was injured.
“I’m super-happy that she’s back,” McFarlen said. Vig came in with two outs and two runners on and one of the Port Angeles’ best hitters, Zoe Smithson at the plate with a chance to completely blow the game open. Vig got Smithson to hit a fly ball to right field to end the inning and the threat.
Port Angeles coach Randy Steinman was glad to see his team recover from the North Kitsap loss, especially since it was senior night.
“You never know how senior night is going to end up. They were focused. It was a clean game on both sides,” Steinman said. “Teagan pitched a gem,” Steinman said.
Sequim (8-6, 12-6), finished the season in fourth place in the Olympic League with an important 7-5 win Saturday over Olympic. McFarlen said Sequim was already going to bi-district before the win over Olympic, but that the victory helps the Wolves’ seeding. Port Angeles is assured a high seed and a possible No. 1 overall seed at the bi-district tournament that begins next Friday.
Robinson’s dinger blew open a close game. She said she simply got a perfect pitch to hit. “It felt really good to win. I felt like we were kind of revived,” Robinson said.
Clark, a senior, is looking forward to the bi-district tournament and the Riders first chance to qualify for the state tournament since 2019. There was no season at all in 2020 and no state tournament in 2021 due to the pandemic.
“I’m excited. I went [to state] as a freshman. I’m excited that the young kids get to experience it like I did.”
Port Angeles (12-2, 17-2) is ranked No. 3 in the state in Ratings Percentage Index. For much of the season, the Riders were ranked No. 1, but got knocked down a couple of spots after the North Kitsap loss. Steinman said the No. 1 ranking was probably a bigger deal for the parents than for the coaches and players. He doesn’t mind the No. 3 ranking.
“We don’t have that target on our backs now,” he said.
The entire Olympic League is ranked highly in RPI with five teams in the top 20. The league will likely get five teams in the bi-district. Port Angeles is No. 3, Olympic No. 10, North Kitsap No. 12, Sequim No. 14 and North Mason No. 20.