Kentwood softball comes up short against Skyview in 4A bi-district championship

They were given options.

For better or worse, the Kentwood softball team didn’t hesitate in its choice. The Conquerors determined to make Saturday its moment over the alternative even as the skies opened up and tried to rain on 4A bi-district championship parade.

For four innings, it appeared Kentwood had definitely chosen correctly. The Conquerors led Skyview by two runs heading into the top of the fifth.

“When we met at the plate (with the umpires), they threw out the option of rescheduling,” Kentwood coach Sydney Eacret said. “I told them, with all due respect I’ve got to go talk to my girls. So we came in here and it was cute. There was this moment where all the girls came rushing down the dugout, all the parents were here crowded around, and I said, ‘Okay, ladies. Here’s our two options.’ Before I could even get that second option, they were all like, we’re playing, we’re playing.”

Fast-forward to the fifth inning, when the Storm scored two runs on four base hits to tie the game at 3-3. Firmly back in the game, Skyview coach Kim Anthony went to her ace on the mound – Maddie Millhorn – to begin the bottom of the fifth.

Two seasons ago, it was Millhorn and Kentwood’s Sarah Wright both starting on the mound for their respective schools in this same game. That afternoon, Wright outdueled Millhorn (the pair are club teammates), including hitting a home run as the Conquerors won the district title.

On Saturday, neither started the championship game. But Millhorn pitched three scoreless innings to close things out while her teammates scored five times in the sixth and three more times in the seventh to take the championship for 2024, 11-4, at Kent Service Fields.

“It does mean something,” Kentwood center fielder Juliana Ursino said. “Just having the district title is something you can look back on. Overall, it’s not that big for stats. But as a team, it’s important to have a memory of it together.”

Option Two would have been to reschedule the title game, probably for Monday. But that likely would have taken place at another venue, somewhere between Vancouver (where Skyview is from) and Kent, instead of Service Fields, which is right in the Conquerors backyard.

The third and fourth place game participants took an entirely different option. They didn’t play, choosing not to dodge the raindrops, but also did not reschedule. Instead, the captains from Olympia and Emerald Ridge played rock-paper-scissors to determine the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds from district to the state tournament that will be played next Friday and Saturday at Columbia Playfields in Richland.

Olympia, by the way, won that competition to claim the third seed. Emerald Ridge is fourth. Battle Ground and Sumner each won winner-to-state, loser-out games to claim fifth before Puyallup outlasted Decatur, 6-4, to earn the seventh and final seed to state.

“I’ve seen coin flips done before,” Olympia coach Drew Wellner said. “Due to time constraints and the like. I’ve never seen Rochambeau before.”

While it rained off and on throughout the championship game, Kentwood and Skyview played a competitive contest for the second time in three years – mostly. Wright, who started at shortstop instead of in the circle, scored from second on an RBI single by Sofia Mottern Salinas in the bottom of the first inning for a 1-0 Conqueror lead.

Addy Harmier doubled and scored in the second to tie things for the Storm at 1-1. Kentwood scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to go up 3-1, and Skyview scored twice a half-inning later to tie it again.

Then, in the top of the sixth, the Storm sent nine players to the plate. Skyview had five hits and took advantage of two Kentwood errors to put up five runs and take an 8-3 lead.

Though that was more than enough for Millhorn, who did allow a meaningless run with two outs in the seventh on Ursino’s RBI single, as the junior struck out seven Conquerors in her three innings of relief work to earn the win.