Sydney Schultz powers Issaquah to win over Ballard

May 6, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

By Greg Farrar Winter Ridgeway, Issaquah High School junior, pitches April 30 during a tough third inning against Ballard. Ridgeway hit an RBI and pitched a complete game in the 5-3 win.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Winter Ridgeway, Issaquah High School junior, pitches April 30 during a tough third inning against Ballard. Ridgeway hit an RBI and pitched a complete game in the 5-3 win.

Issaquah High School sophomore Sydney Schultz’s first-inning homerun trot ended with a rather emphatic stomp on home plate.

Just a half-inning earlier, the Eagles watched as umpires erased a Ballard home run, after the hitter failed to touch home plate on her way back to the dugout.

“I was going to make sure that my home run counted for sure,” Schultz said after the Issaquah softball team’s 5-3 win over Ballard April 30.

Schultz, the Eagles’ leadoff hitter, sent the first pitch she saw over the fence, and continued to give Ballard fits the entire game.

The Beavers just didn’t have an answer for Schultz, who collected four hits, three RBIs and was just a triple short of hitting for the cycle.

“I’ve been seeing the ball really well lately and I’m just trying to pick my teammates up when they need it, trying to be clutch,” Schultz said.

Schultz’s home run set the tone early, jump-starting a productive first inning in which Issaquah scored two runs. Issaquah junior Winter Ridgeway accounted for the second one, bringing Justi Johnson home on an RBI single.

The Eagles added another run in the second inning when Jessica DeFelice scored on a passed ball.

Issaquah held a 3-0 lead through the second inning, before Ballard got the better of Ridgeway, the Eagles’ pitcher, in the third.

The Beavers’ three-run third inning made it a new ballgame, and the score remained tied until the Issaquah offense broke out in the sixth.

The Eagles’ bottom of the order started the sixth-inning rally by getting the first two runners on base. A DeFelice sacrifice bunt then set the stage for Schultz, who came to the plate with runners on second and third.

With a homerun, a single and a double already under her belt, a Schultz triple would have given her a cycle. Her focus, though, was driving in her teammates to take the lead.

Schultz slapped a hard grounder down the right field line, scoring both runners and giving the sophomore her second double of the game.

As she rounded second, Schultz admitted she took a long look at third, knowing she was a triple shy of the cycle. Issaquah coach Ron Hatlen gave her the stop sign, though, so she stayed.

“I was thinking about sending her, but it was too close of a game,” he said. “That run was more important than the cycle.”

Schultz echoed those sentiments, emphasizing the team win, rather than her own accomplishments.

“We had a tough beginning of the season, but we’re starting to build and we’re starting to play for each other instead of playing for ourselves, and it’s really showing in how clean our games have been lately,” Schultz said.

An April 23 win over Woodinville, one of the better teams in the league, gave his team a new confidence, Hatlen said.

It’s led to a renewed energy in practice and games, and comes at the perfect time as the Eagles prepare to wrap up the regular season and jockey for the top position in the KingCo 4A Crown Division.

“They just believe in themselves right now,” Hatlen said. “That’s what we’ve been preaching from day one, but with almost all freshmen and sophomores, it’s just taken a little bit for them to do it.”

After the 5-3 win, the Eagles mingled with Little League players for the team’s annual Issaquah Little League Day. It represents Hatlen’s effort to get young girls interested in one day playing for the high-school team.

“It’s important to get all these guys out here and get them excited to play, so we can keep recruiting and keep this program alive,” Schultz said.

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