Juanita topped Everett 9-0 to win its fourth 3A state softball title.
For the Rebels, it’s not just about getting that state title, but proving themselves as the underdog that could go all the way. Juanita took second in the KingCo 3A league behind Lake Washington and placed fifth in the Sea-King district tournament.
“[Winning state] was definitely one of their goals, and they had challenges all year,” said Juanita coach Traci Odegard. “Some of the best teams here, they had to face, and they got hot at the right time that’s for sure.”
Rebels pitcher Lisa Nelson got the win, pitching a shutout and allowing just four hits in seven innings of work.
Nelson, who was dealing with health issues earlier in the season, only started pitching full games during the postseason games two weeks ago. The junior threw 26 scoreless innings in four state tournament games yesterday and today.
Juanita coach Traci Odegard said Nelson’s first state game, an upset over Enumclaw, was the best game Nelson has ever thrown. After winning the championship, Odegard said Nelson just got better and better.
Nelson, who is planning to commit to a college in July, got the Rebels offense rolling in the bottom of the second with a home run. She went 4-for-4 and scored twice.
“I’ve been kind of struggling at the plate for the last few weeks,” Nelson said. “I guess I was saving my hits for this game, the important one.”
Behind Nelson, the Juanita defense was perfect, committing no errors.
Center fielder Aimee Richardson, who drove in five RBI against Prairie in semifinals, had the play of the game in the sixth inning with a diving save that kept Everett off the base paths.
“That was so much adrenaline,” Richardson said. “I never dive in practice, but in games it’s just instinct.”
Until the sixth inning, Everett pitcher Sydney Taggart was an even match for Juanita. Taggart gave up just four hits going into the sixth, and Juanita led 1-0.
The Rebels scored eight unearned runs in the sixth to clinch their win. Everett committed six errors in the final two innings.
“We came in with the same approach,” Odegard said. “Had fun, played defense, that’s what we were really working towards, and it was like a domino effect. When one of them starts hitting, they all start hitting. It happened at the right time.”
Everett also placed second in the state tournament in 2012. Next year, the team graduates just two starters and Millar said the team would be back.
“The girls have grown more than I could have expected,” Millar said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. We’ll get back to work and give it another shot.”