Wildcat softball gets postseason ticket

It was a tough start for the Mount Si softball team, as they fell once again to Sammamish and Totem pitching ace, Sarah Minice.

Kelsey Hasselblad went 4-for-4 with a leadoff triple, and Minice shut down the Wildcat bats as the Totems won, 4-0. Kali Walker went 2-for-2 to lead Mount Si.

The Wildcats returned home to play Liberty last Wednesday. In a game that was an absolute classic, Mount Si rallied to win in nine innings, 3-2 and clinched a postseason berth.

"This really puts us in a good spot for the run next week and getting set up for league. I'm really proud of the girls," said Mount Si coach Larry White. "This does separate the also-rans and the teams that can contend and have a shot at going on and I think this is the win that catapults us and gets us going for the rest of the year," he added.

It was a bit of a rough start for Wildcat pitcher Kandis Clesson. On the first pitch of the game, Patriot Hannah Sherwood singled after a sacrifice bunt and stolen base; she made it to third. Fortunately, Sherwood was not able to score as Liberty pitcher Michelle Ruby struck out for the final out of the inning.

From that point until the late innings, it was a duel between the established senior, Clesson, and her freshman opponent, Ruby. Ruby had a no-hitter goinginto the fourth inning when Clesson and Katie Brett each singled with two out.

Mount Si broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Katie Morgan walked to lead off the inning, then Katie Shaw's sacrifice bunted Morgan to second. A passed ball and a throwing error by Liberty catcher Jesi Siemons allowed Morgan to make it the rest of the way and cross home plate with the first Wildcat run.

It looked as if things were going to be in Mount Si's favor. Ruby, though, had other ideas. To lead off the seventh, Ruby hit the first home run at the new Mount Si field, tying the game 1-1. Walker, playing left field, summed up the feelings of many of the Wildcat partisans. "When I saw it go over the fence, my heart sank," Walker said. Clesson then gave up a double to Siemons and walked Michelle Torre. It looked bleak, but the Idaho State-bound star went to work and retired the next three hitters without giving up another run.

In the ninth inning, under the international tiebreaker rules, the Patriots loaded the bases after Clesson walked Ruby and hit Siemons. Kaylin Takata, the last out of the eighth inning, started at second under the tiebreaker and advanced to third on Siemons' hit by pitch. She then scored on a Torre single to give Liberty the lead, 2-1. Clesson then put the fire out again, retiring the next three hitters without giving up more runs.

To open the ninth inning for Mount Si under the tiebreaker, Lacey Blais pinch-ran at second base for Melissa Webster, who had been the final out of the eighth. The leadoff hitter in the ninth, Kyleen Sweepe, then stole the show. The sophomore singled to right field, scoring Blais to tie the game 2-2. Lynnae McKiernan then sacrifice-bunted Sweepe to second. Walker followed up with a single. Traci Barclay then flew out to foul territory behind first base. Sweepe, at third base, ran for home and barely crossed the plate ahead of the tag from Siemons, giving the Wildcats the victory.

The win sealed a berth in the 2006 Kingco tournament for Mount Si, their fourth straight postseason trip.

"We were just so excited to come out here and get a win, and when we finally did it, it felt so good," Walker said.

In a game moved up a day to last Thursday due to a school function for Mount Si players, the Wildcats went to Interlake and took care of the Saints, 8-0. Shaw led the way, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Walker had another strong day, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Mount Si wraps up their home season with Mercer Island this Friday at 4 p.m. The Wildcats come into this week ahead of Issaquah for second place in league. If Mount Si holds that second-place position, they would receive an automatic berth in the SeaKing District Tournament.

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