Spartans subdue Eagles in conference opener
April 8, 2014
By Neil Pierson
The fastpitch rivalry between the Issaquah Eagles and Skyline Spartans always has intensity, and last week’s clash to open Class 4A KingCo Conference play was no different.
Facing off against former teammates Winter Ridgeway and Tia Hedman, the Spartans used a fourth-inning surge and rallied past the Eagles, 5-3, on April 1 at Skyline High School.
Caroline Bowman, one of six freshmen starters for Skyline, was superb in leading the comeback. She used her fastball and rise ball effectively to strike out 11 hitters, while limiting the Eagles to five hits and no walks.
Spartans coach Ken Brooks said Bowman responded well after throwing one mistake pitch — a second-inning fastball that Ridgeway belted over the center-field fence for the game’s first run.
“She did make a bad pitch to Winter, and she said it was her,” Brooks said. “I take credit for the bad ones if she hits her spot, and she takes credit for the ones that she doesn’t.
“That’s pretty big in a kid that will do that, that accepts her role and knows that (mistakes) are going to happen … but owns up to it and moves on. She’s just quality. I can’t say enough good things about her.”
Bowman, who has previous experience with a Seattle-based select team, said she tried to bounce back after Ridgeway’s homer.
“I started off pretty good, and I thought it was going good, and then I just left one right over the middle and she took it,” Bowman said. “But I came back the next inning, finished strong, I think.”
Issaquah increased its lead to 2-0 in the third as Sydney Schultz scorched a leadoff double and scored on Julianna Bernado’s sacrifice bunt.
But momentum took a 180-degree turn in the fourth as Skyline benefited from some poor Issaquah defense and got its first hits off Ridgeway, who also pitched well. The junior allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five.
Ridgeway’s fielding error on a Lauren Lo grounder got the rally started. Bowman doubled to deep right field, and a wild pitch scored Lo to trim the Spartans’ deficit to one.
The Eagles threw out the tying run at the plate for the second out, but got a bit unlucky when Camille Goo looped an infield hit between three players, tying the score at 2-2.
Two more wild pitches followed and, suddenly, Skyline had a 4-2 lead.
It was a frustrating series of events for Eagles coach Ron Hatlen.
“The teams were even, so you can’t really give them extra outs,” he said.
Issaquah got one back in the sixth as Bernado singled and scored, thanks to a fielder’s choice groundout and two wild pitches.
But Skyline restored its two-run lead in the bottom half of the inning. Riley Davidson drilled a leadoff single, moved up on Annika Hildebrand’s bunt, and scored on Goo’s sacrifice fly to center, barely beating a strong throw to the plate.
Bowman wrapped things up by striking out Issaquah’s Kylie Bevell and Danya Vilhelmsen in the seventh. She said it was nice to see the Spartans adjust after falling behind early.
“We just had to start talking, getting in the pitcher’s head, and it seemed to work,” she said. “That one inning was big.”
Brooks said the Spartans were excited play against Ridgeway and Hedman.
“Facing two ex-teammates, it’s kind of a big deal,” he said, “and I think the girls wanted to make a statement, not to Issaquah, but just to the league, that everyone thinks just because we have a bunch of freshmen we’re not going to be any good.”
Meanwhile, Hatlen wasn’t overly concerned with the loss and indicated it was part of the typical growing pains for a squad that features only two seniors.
“We had one inning where we moved our runners like we needed to,” he said. “We did what we needed to win, we just didn’t win. We’re young, so we’ll take a learning experience off it.”