Eagles fall prey to Wolves’ six-run rally, lose 6-5

April 19, 2011

By Bob Taylor

Heather Benjamin, Issaquah High School catcher, slams the first home run of her career to clear the outfield fence in the fifth-inning that also scored pitcher Brielle Bray on April 15 against Eastlake High School. By Greg Farrar

The Issaquah High School softball team had one bad inning, but often that is all it takes to determine the outcome of a game.

Issaquah was sailing along with a 2-0 lead April 15 when everything that could go wrong did. Visiting Eastlake capitalized on errors by the Eagles to score six runs in the fourth inning, and that was just enough as the Wolves posted a 6-5 4A KingCo Conference victory.“After that one bad inning, the team fought back and got back into the game. They just fell a bit short,” Issaquah coach Jim Magnuson said.

Issaquah scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth and got a solo run in the bottom of the seventh. However, the Eagles couldn’t overcome the bad fourth inning.

“We must have had five or six errors in that inning,” Magnuson said. “We gave them eight outs.”

The contest had two of the league’s top pitchers in Eastlake’s Nicole Guptil and Issaquah’s Brielle Bray.

“Brielle pitched real well. It was just the one inning that cost us,” Magnuson said.

Issaquah catcher Heather Benjamin had two hits, both for extra bases. She had a double and a home run. Bray also had two hits.

The Eagles also fell to Redmond, 7-3, April 11. Benjamin had a pair of hits, both doubles.

Magnuson is counting heavily on Benjamin and Brielle, both returning starters. Benjamin, a sophomore, continues Issaquah’s strong tradition behind the plate.

“We’ve had some outstanding catchers since I’ve been here. Heather is a good hitter. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see her play at the NCAA Division I level one day,” Magnuson said.

Bray, a junior, also continues Issaquah’s strong tradition on the mound. Two years ago, she led the league in saves. Last year, she shared the mound duties with Mikenzie Voves, who now plays for the University of Pennsylvania.

Voves has pitched well in her freshman season at Pennsylvania. She has already recorded eight victories.

Voves was one of the big graduation losses from last season. In addition, the starting shortstop on last year’s team transferred to Bonney Lake.

When Issaquah began preseason workouts there were just six players on the varsity squad. Eventually, the Eagles got up to 13.

“We’re real young and inexperienced this season,” said Magnuson, in his ninth season as Issaquah coach.

One of the pleasant surprises thus far has been shortstop Sarah Hitchings.

“She is one of our newcomers and has played pretty well,” Magnuson said.

Issaquah entered this week with a 1-2 record.

“That’s all the games we had on the schedule, so that’s kind of gotten a little behind, too,” Magnuson said.

Issaquah’s victory came March 24 when the Eagles defeated rival Skyline, 9-3.

Spartans facing rebuilding, too

Skyline, 0-4 in league play, began the season with only four returning players on the roster, two who were starters in 2010.

Seniors Lindsey Nicholson, a shortstop, and Anya Kamber, a third baseman, will lead the team.

Last week, the Spartans lost to Newport, 4-0, April 11; Eastlake, 11-1, April 12; and Redmond, 9-3, April 15.

In the Eastlake game, Skyline stayed with the host Wolves until the fourth inning. Eastlake’s Sophie Pallenscar delivered a run-scoring single to break a 1-1 tie and the Wolves went on to score three more times to break open the contest.

Eastlake scored six more runs in the fifth. Winning pitcher Nicole Guptil had nine strikeouts. She also went 3-for-3 at the plate.

Patriots win twice

Liberty, off to promising start, won two of three games last week.

The Patriots defeated Interlake, 6-3, April 12 in a 3A/2A KingCo Conference contest.

Amber Smith was the winning pitcher for Liberty. Denise Blohowiak, one of the league’s top players, had three hits and drove in two runs; one of her hits was a home run. Marissa Jeffers and Liza Van Camp each had two hits for the Patriots.

Liberty fell to unbeaten Juanita, one of the state’s strongest teams, 10-0, April 13. The Patriots managed just two hits in the game.

The Patriots completed the week with an 8-4 nonleague victory April 16 against host Selah.

Blohowiak was the winning pitcher. She also had two hits and drove in two runs. Van Camp had two hits.

The victory against Selah gave Liberty a 4-3 season record. The Patriots entered this week with a 3-2 league record.

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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