Redmond all-stars send local girls home
July 9, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Facing elimination, the Issaquah/Sammamish 9/10 all-star softball team came into their July 5 game against Redmond ready to battle.
The team, comprised of 9- and 10-year-olds from Sammamish and Issaquah little leagues, fell short, though, losing to Redmond, 9-8, in what was a thrilling, back-and-forth finish.
“It was a tough loss, but we tried really hard and that’s all you can ask for,” Issaquah/Sammamish coach Amy Huryn said. “Just put your best foot forward.”
Issaquah/Sammamish was thrust into the loser’s bracket of the District 9 all-star tournament with its first-round loss to the same Redmond team. After battling back with wins against Eastlake and Bellevue, the girls were poised for the July 5 rematch.
The girls got off to a quick start, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Issaquah/Sammamish cleanup hitter Emma Huryn drove in Samantha Nemiroff. Redmond responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning.
The teams remained tied at 1-1 through the second inning, before Issaquah/Sammamish erupted for four runs in the third.
Summer Jones got things going with a leadoff walk, in an inning where the Redmond pitcher struggled with her command.
After scoring four runs in the third, Issaquah/Sammamish added two more in the top of the fourth, taking a comfortable 7-1 lead.
Redmond came roaring back in the fourth, though, making it a game again with a five-run inning. They eventually tied the game at 7 with a run in the fifth.
The season was on the line for both teams, as they went into the sixth and final inning, tied, 7-7. Issaquah/Sammamish took the lead, 8-7, in the top of the inning when Nemiroff scored her third run of the game.
Emma Huryn, who coaches described as the “team leader,” returned to the mound for the bottom of the sixth, with the dubious task of holding Redmond scoreless. She pitched in every inning, except for a portion of the fourth, when Madison Rockwell briefly spelled her.
“Mental wise, that was a lot of pressure, but she still hung in there and did what she could do,” coach Mary Gegus said.
After notching two quick outs, Issaquah/Sammamish looked poised to take the win, but Redmond’s next three hitters rallied to score two runs, ultimately securing victory.
There were a few tears as the girls realized their all-star season had come to an end, but they did receive an impressive postgame pep talk from legendary softball coach Teresa Wilson.
Wilson coached softball at several colleges, including the University of Washington and the University of Arizona.
“Her message to the girls was it’s OK to lose,” Issaquah/Sammamish manager Connie Bellas said. “You don’t appreciate a really good win until you’ve really lost, and then down the road, the win will be that much sweeter.”
The Issaquah/Sammamish team was the only softball all-star team that Issaquah Little League fielded at any level this year, a sign of the sport’s dwindling popularity.
“It’s died off, because unfortunately people think it’s all slowpitch-type stuff and that it’s not aggressive enough,” Bellas said. “We’re trying to really bring it back, and let those girls that like to be competitive know that they don’t have to go to soccer or lacrosse. There are other alternatives.”
The all-female coaching staff, a rarity in the sport, hopes that this summer experience will encourage their players to continue playing and to bring their friends along, too, coach Amy Huryn said.
“Even though we lost today, there are ups and downs, but I think there were more ups, and that’s exciting,” she said. “I think that’s going to make them want to come back and they’re going to talk to their friends about it.”