COLLEGE PLACE — History was made here Thursday in South Central Athletic Conference district softball action.
College Place hosted its first-ever district playoff game, and topped that historic feat by winning its first ever-home district playoff game.
The Hawks exploded for seven third-inning runs, pounded out 11 hits, and dropped Granger into the consolation bracket as College Place prevailed, 11-1.
“Another first for our program,” Hawks coach Corey Davis said. “We’ve been to the district for three years, but this is the first time we’ve won our first game, which puts us in a better spot for Saturday.”
On Saturday, College Place continues district play in Connell, opening up against Royal in the double-elimination tournament.
It wasn’t a smooth start for the Hawks on Thursday.
The Spartans got a hit and drew a walk in the first, but Paris Orchard, in the circle for the Hawks, got out of the two-on, two-out jam with a strikeout.
After Paris Orchard, who won SCAC East Player of the Year honors, drew a leadoff walk and stole second and third, and then Jordan Holso drove her in with a sac fly to center for a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans were back at it in the second. A shot off the bat of Keely Guisinger nailed Paris Orchard in the leg and bounced away for an infield single.
“It was off her shin,” Davis said. “She is very tough and I knew she wasn’t coming out. You never know how a blow like that will affect her stride and pitching.”
An error and a bloop single followed to load the bases for the Spartans with two outs.
Holso made a back-handed catch of a looping Spartan drive at second base to end the Spartan threat.
Over the first two innings, the Spartans had collected three hits and left five baserunners on base.
“We sometimes have a sibling bond,” Paris Orchard’s sister and catcher, Natalie Orchard said. “I give her a look to say, ‘Paris, you can do this’ and I try to stay calm. As long as one of us remains calm, that will keep the other calm. I knew she would calm down and start hitting her spots.”
Paris Orchard worked — despite giving up a two-out triple to Celeste Almaguer — an efficient third inning and the Hawks came to bat in the home third leading 1-0.
Natalie Orchard got the bats rolling with a lead off double.
Ellie Christensen followed with a drive to the right-center fence and scampered all the way home for an inside the park home run and a 3-0 Hawks lead.
Before the Spartans got out of this one, Audrey Sanchez struck for an RBI double, Paris Orchard singled in one, and Natalie Orchard capped the seven-run Hawks uprising with her second hit of the inning, an RBI single.
“It usually takes us one time around to see the pitcher,” Natalie Orchard said. “Then the at-bats get easier. I try to stay in my strike zone and adjust to the pitcher and to the umpire’s strike zone.”
Ellie Christensen and Jenna Mendoza both added RBI singles to highlight a two-run Hawks fifth.
Paris Orchard knocked home Josie McMillan, who reached on an error, in the sixth to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule and advance the Hawks in the winner’s bracket with the 11-1 win.
Paris Orchard went the distance, giving up one run, seven hits, while striking out six Spartans.
“Paris settled in after taking the blow off the shin,” Davis said of his left-hander. “That was good to see.”
Natalie Orchard with three hits led the offense. Alondra Gutierrez-Velazco, Ellie Christensen and Paris Orchard each chipped in two in adding to the 11-hit Hawk offense.
“It’s different than a doubleheader, as you don’t have another game to adjust,” Davis said. “We hit it pretty well. Happy the way it turned out.”
The Hawks need one win before they lose two Saturday in Connell to earn their second Class 1A state tournament ticket in three years. The Hawks open Saturday against Royal, a 5-1 winner over Naches Valley Thursday.
“We beat Royal twice (in the regular season), so we have confidence going against them,” Davis said. “But they are playing well as Naches Valley was the No. 1 seed from the SCAC West. They owe us, since we beat them twice. We’ll have to be ready.”
Hawks 11, Spartans 1
Cardenas and Tallman; P. Orchard and N. Orchard.
HRs — CP: E. Christensen.
Hits — Granger: Vasquez, Tallman, K. Guisinger 2, Almaguer 2, Torres; CP: Gutierrez-Velazco 2, N. Orchard 3, E. Christensen 2, A. Sanchez, P. Orchard 2, Mendoza.