SPORTS: Forks 10U softball team captures regional championship

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The Forks 10U Babe Ruth softball team not only rewrote the history books, but tore up the old one and stomped on it.

Forks softball, which had never won a state championship before this year, now has a regional title to go along with its recently acquired state crown.

Two weeks, two championships and a perfect 12-0 record in the state and regional tournaments.

Forks outscored opponents 85-3 at state in Othello and 41-9 at regionals in Meridian, Idaho.

“It was a little more work at regionals,” Forks coach Tim Adams said by phone while his team was screaming with joy in the background right after the team won the regional title.

The North Olympic Peninsula team had to beat its nemesis, Hoquiam, twice at both state and regionals to win it all.

This is after Hoquiam was leading 3-1 in head-to-head competition in earlier tournaments.

At regionals, Forks pounded Hoquiam 8-2 in the championship game Saturday afternoon after beating its rival 7-4 earlier in the tourney.

“The girls battled hard against [Hoquiam],” Adams said.

Forks was fighting the weather as well as opposing teams at regionals.

It was 107 degrees on the field when Forks beat host team Meridian 6-2 on Friday afternoon, and 102 on the field when Forks defeated Hoquiam in the title game.

“We have fought the heat the whole time [in Meridian],” Adams said.

“We have gone through about 20 cases of water. We had to buy more just for the championship game.”

Catcher Rian Peters set the tone for Forks in the title game against Hoquiam. In the bottom of the first inning, she got on base via an error and then stole her way around all the bases to home for a 1-0 lead.

Hoquiam tied it in the top of the third, but Forks went ahead for good with four runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Jayden Olson and Peters opened the inning with singles and were brought home by a two-RBI single from Kierra Brandt.

Lanie Baker then singled to put two on base, and Madison Davis hit both Brandt and Baker in with a double to make the score 5-1.

Hoquiam never recovered.

Olson hit 2 for 3 in the game and scored two runs while Peters scored three runs.

Brandt was a perfect 3 for 3, Davis hit 2 for 3 and both Baker and Peters batted 1 for 3.

Chloe Leverington started for Forks on the mound, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out five in four innings.

Olson threw the final two innings. She threw only three pitches in the fifth inning as her defense backed her up by getting outs.

“That was huge for us,” Forks statistician Jack Brandt said.

Olson then struck out the first two batters in the sixth inning before Hoquiam had a small rally to score one run for a final 8-2 score.

“Hoquiam is tough, they don’t go down easily,” Brandt said.

Both Forks and Hoquiam dominated the other teams at regionals.

Forks went 4-0 in pool play to earn the No. 1 seed for bracket play while Hoquiam went 3-1 for the second seed.

“We’re getting good [offensive] production from everybody, our pitching is solid and our defense is good,” Brandt said.

Everybody got on base for Forks, and everyone but one player got a hit, the statistician said.

The North Olympic Peninsula team opened tourney play by blasting Kuna, the Idaho state champion, 10-0, and then turned around and beat Umpqua Valley, the Oregon state champion, 4-1 on Thursday.

Forks then held on to beat Hoquiam 7-4 after leading just 3-2 Friday morning before defeating host team Meridian, Idaho, 6-2 on Friday evening.

In the semifinals early Saturday morning, Forks beat Umpqua Valley 6-0 when the Oregon team had to forfeit for using an ineligible player.

Umpqua Valley was leading 6-3 with Forks coming up to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning when it was discovered that the Oregon pitcher was getting ready to throw in her 11th straight inning in two consecutive games.

She had pitched the entire six innings the day before in a win against Kuna.

Pitchers are allowed to throw just six innings in two consecutive games.

That’s one of the reasons why Forks performed so well at the state and regional tournaments.

Instead of having to rely on one ace pitcher, Forks had two stellar throwers who pitched three innings each in every regional game.

“Our pitching has been good,” Brandt said.

Olson and Leverington both pitched 11 innings each through pool play, with Olson striking out 20, walking eight, hitting two batters but allowing just two hits.

Leverington almost had the exact numbers with 19 strikeouts, just two walks, three hit batters while scattering seven hits.

In addition, Olson threw 99 strikes and only 68 balls while Leverington had an even more efficient with 95 strikes and only 51 balls.

The only difference between state and regionals is that the two girls were so efficient at state that they combined for zero hit batters.

The Idaho heat might have cut into the efficiency.

“Jayden and Chloe pitched as hard as they could in the heat,” Adams said.

The heat, though, did not slow down Forks’ bats, but it might have slowed down the base runners.

“We have been stranding a lot more runners on base at regionals,” Brandt said.

Forks stranded 10 runners in the 4-1 win over Umpqua Valley on Thursday.

Peters was carrying the hot bat at regionals as she batted .846 in the tourney, smacking three home runs while bringing six runners home and scoring 11 of her own runs.

Peters also was awesome on defense, throwing out 10 base runners during the tourney.

Kierra Brandt, the top hitter at state, batted .300 with seven RBI and two doubles at regionals, while Olson had three doubles and two singles, scored five runs and brought in two more.

Natalie Lausche hit .333 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Davis scored two runs and had an RBI.

Everybody contributed on offense, even the bottom of the lineup, Brandt said.

That showed especially in the Meridian game after the host team took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Forks bounced right back with four runs in the top of the second with the bottom of its lineup at bat.

Davis started the rally with a single, followed by a walk to Nicole Winger, a two-RBI single by Kray Horton, an RBI double by Olson, and then an RBI single by Peters.

In Forks’ first regional game against Kuna, a 10-0 win, Peters had a two-run homer and an RBI-double.

Olson and Leverington combined to pitch the shutout.

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