CATHLAMET – It was a classic win-win situation off of Ocean Beach Highway.
Naselle toppled Wahkiakum in a 21-8 win in non-league softball action on Friday, but when the Mules had just eight players available, the Comets also loaned a player to their hosts in order to complete the roster in a proper display of the cross. – the sportsmanship of the county line.
The problem arose when a Wahkiakum player had to leave school unexpectedly around noon. That mark on the attendance board left the Mules shorthanded, but since WIAA rules allow eight players to take the field, the Comets swore they would still make the trip east to Cathlamet.
After a brief pre-game chat between Wahkiakum coach Garrett Miller and Naselle coach Rebekah Wirkkala, the neighbor arrangement was made for a comet to head towards the visiting dugout each innings to play the field. center and the ninth bat for the Mules.
“Coach (Wirkkala) came in, we talked about it, and we just made an agreement that instead of playing with eight, we’ll put one of their kids there,” Miller said.
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The deal helped an already green Wahkiakum team avoid the daunting task of playing without a full roster. But comets also saw benefits.
“We have a lot of them, so we’ll just give them one player each round,” Wirkkala said of his thought process. “And it gives my girls more playing time.”
Sometimes they changed after a round. Sometimes they stayed several rounds at a time. In both cases, they helped get the job done.
The odd arrangement ended up creating some memorable moments, like when Naselle’s Avalon Sullivan chased a batted ball into the gap and made a catch, helping to keep two points for his own team off the board and drawing cheers from the two sides.
Courtney Paul added to the curiosity by driving a run for the Mules later in the game.
Aside from the unique setup, the Comets squad dominated much of the game.
Naselle took the lead with a three-run first inning, highlighted by a home run inside the park of Peyton Dalton’s bat.
“Our girls were aggressive at home plate, which was good,” Wirkkala said. “They swing aggressively and they like to punch, which I love.”
But the Mules responded with three of their own in the home half of the first. Reigha Niemeyer kicked things off with a first single and, after two stolen bases, came on to score.
The Comets responded with five runs in the second set, then took control in the third quarter as they hit the seven-run limit to take a 15-3 lead.
Paul’s RBI for the Mules came in fourth and Wahkiakum wasted four runs in the fifth inning to keep the game alive, but a four-run sixth for Naselle ended the game early under the runs rule.
“It was so nice to bring the young players in and I like to leave some of the more experienced players and they are like coaches on the pitch,” Wirkkala said. “It’s really good to have these anchors, these girls who love the game.”
Brynn Tarabochia was perfect at the plate for the Comets, going 5-for-5 with four RBIs and four runs scored to lead the Comets offense. Mia Watson started for the Comets and had a solid day at the plate, going 3 for 5 with two RBIs. Watson also found herself behind the plate at receiver for the first time after a last-minute substitution from Wirkkala.
“She’s never been caught in a game or even in a scrum, she’s my center player,” Wirkkala said. “But she’s just this (kind of) athlete and she’s so strong. She’s the one praising this game because she’s going to be in pain tomorrow.
Taroabochia also did the majority of the work for the Comets in the circle, throwing 4 2/3 innings and four hits while striking out seven.
Niemeyer led the Mules from the box, finishing 4-4 with two runs scored for Wahkiakum.
After the game, Miller was pleased with the continued improvement in his youthful (and sparse) roster.
“I think we’re making a lot of progress every game,” Miller said. Our pitchers stayed in the area for most of the day.
Naselle (2-0) is out until April 11, when they hit the road for a game at Taholah after having a spring break break.
“Honestly, I think a lot of these girls need a little rest, so I don’t even have practice until Thursday, Friday (and) Saturday,” Wirkkala said of Naselle’s plans during the season. pause. “Most of these girls go from volleyball to softball to basketball without a break and an overlap for basketball. I think this break will miss it and they will come back happy and ready to go.
Wahkiakum (0-2, 0-1 league) is also out until April 11 when they will be on the road at Raymond.