SPORTS UPDATE: North Olympic team loses, but still goes to World Series

LAMAR, Colo. — Wausau, Wis., scored six runs in the top of the sixth to come from behind and beat North Olympic 8-4 in 16U Babe Ruth softball World Series action this afternoon.

North Olympic led 3-0 and 4-1 but couldn’t hold on in the 97-degree heat.

Port Angeles advances to the World Series championship bracket after finishing pool play with a 2-2 record.

———-

Earlier report:

LAMAR, Colo. — Sarah Steinman had her second outstanding pitching performance in a row as the North Olympic 16U softball team edges closer to the Babe Ruth World Series championship bracket.

The Port Angeles team beat Lancaster, N.H., 6-3 on Sunday in pool play to improve to 2-1 and get within a win of the double-elimination bracket.

A victory today against Wausau, Wis., would give North Olympic first or second place in the National Division and a berth in the championship round.

The top three teams in the five-team divisions advance to double elimination.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” North Olympic head coach Warren Stevens said.

“The girls are playing good defense and are starting to hit the ball. We’re hoping it just keeps getting better.”

Wausau is 1-0 in pool play after beating Lancaster 1-0 on Saturday and having a bye on Sunday.

Port Angeles has won two consecutive games after opening World Series play with a heart-breaking 2-0 loss to Lodi, Calif., early Saturday.

North Olympic came from behind, though, in the nightcap to beat host Lamar 9-8 with a walk-off triple by Tori Kuch in the seventh inning.

Port Angeles split the two opening-day games despite playing in 113-degree playing-field temperature.

It cooled down to a mere 92 degrees, or 104 degrees on the field, for the start of Sunday’s game.

“We’re keeping the girls real hydrated,” Stevens said.

Losing a player to heat exhaustion or an injury would kill North Olympic because the team has only 11 players at the World Series.

Port Angeles High School incoming senior shortstop Mariah Frazier didn’t make the trip because of a medical issue in her family.

That also makes North Olympic the youngest team at the tournament with only three 16-year-olds.

But the inexperience isn’t hurting Port Angeles as the younger 14- and 15-year-old players are performing like veterans.

“Madison Hinrichs has been doing a good job for us at shortstop,” Stevens said.

The 15-year-old is doing well replacing Frazier.

In addition, 14-year-old Lois Harding is playing strong at first base, Stevens said.

“Lois has played good defense as well. She has dug some balls out of the dirt.”

Steinman, meanwhile, has had two powerful performances with complete-game pitching.

The 14-year-old struck out seven with a three-hitter in a heart-breaking 2-0 loss to Lodi in the first game, and then she came back Sunday with another three-hitter, giving up one earned run while fanning six in the 6-3 victory over Lancaster.

“Sarah has been outstanding,” Stevens said.

Port Angeles 6, Lancaster 3

Saturday night’s bottom-of-the-seventh mojo stayed in the North Olympic dugout through Sunday morning as the area girls pounded out nine hits and six runs behind Steinman’s lights-out pitching.

North Olympic scored right away in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Hinrichs benefitted from a misplayed fly ball to center field that allowed her to advance to second to open the game.

A sacrifice bunt by Raelyn Lucas, a walk to Tori Holcomb and a fly ball to right field by Steinman got runners on second and third, and then a passed ball by the Lancaster catcher opened the door for North Olympic to take an early 1-0 lead.

Lancaster came back in the bottom of the first with a run of its own, however, when the team squeaked out two singles off Steinman.

New Hampshire played small ball, laying down two bunts, then took advantage of a North Olympic fielding miscue to even the score at 1-1.

North Olympic would play add-on in the third, though, as they picked up a run off a two-out walk to Holcomb, who would come around to score on an RBI-single by Ralena Blackcrow, one of her three hits on the day, to make the score 2-1.

The fourth inning would start out inconspicuously for North Olympic, but would end up another productive frame for the team as Lauren Curtis led off by being hit with a pitch.

A perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Harding sent Curtis to second, and then McKayla Cox would drive her in with a sharp ground ball single back up through the middle, making the score 3-1.

Then it was Steinman’s work on the mound in innings two through six that kept Lancaster off balance and off the scoreboard.

She struck out five and allowed no hits during that stretch, retiring the side in order in three of the four innings.

The North Olympic offense would then add a three-spot of its own in the top of the seventh when Hinrichs singled to center, and was subsequently brought around by Raelyn Lucas’s double down the right-field line, just inside the first-base bag.

Lucas would then advance to third on Holcomb’s ground-out to third, and eventually score on yet another wild pitch by Lancaster pitchers.

North Olympic’s offensive onslaught would end finally, but not until after Blackcrow scored the third run of the inning via an error by the Lancaster shortstop, a single to right field by Kearsten Cox, then a hard-hit RBI-double down the left-field line by catcher Kuch.

Lancaster showed it had a little life left in it in the home half of the seventh when, with one out, the team managed to piece together a walk and two singles to score two runs to make it a final 6-3 score.

But that was all Steinman was willing to give up when she fittingly ended the game on a called third strike to Lancaster second baseman Kaitie Wood.

North Olympic 6, Lancaster, N.H., 3

N. Olympic 1 0 1 1 0 0 3 ­— 6 9 1

Lancaster 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 3 3 4

WP- Steinman (1-1 in World Series); LP- Bastian

Pitching Statistics

North Olympic: Steinman 7IP, 3R, 1ER, 3H, 2BB, 6K.

Lancaster: Bastian 7 IP, 9H, 6R, 4 ER, 6BB, 2K.

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