It may not have happened as early in the day as coach Janene Todd wanted, but the Elma High School softball team bonded on May 15.
After going into the doubleheader against Tenino needing just one win secure a spot in the District IV tournament, the Eagles found themselves with their backs against the wall in the nightcap after dropping the first game, 11-10, and Elma responded with an 11-1 win.
In the first game, Elma committed numerous fielding errors that allowed the Beavers to grab a 7-1 lead after five innings, but the Eagles would come back to cut the lead to five runs going into the seventh inning with the score 11-6.
The first three Eagles to the plate in the seventh hit their way on base and Elma had cut the lead to 11-8, when senior Brooke Goldsmith came to the plate. Tenino tried to intentionally walk Goldsmith, but the fourth ball was a little too close to the plate and the senior slapped the ball to right field to score two runners. A groundout on the next pitch would leave the tying run on third base.
In between games, Todd was blunt with her team.
“I told them if we didn’t win this game then we probably wouldn’t be going to districts, and they didn’t deserve to go, either. I was getting worried if we didn’t win the second one and something happened with the Forks and Hoquiam game it would have come down to a tie-breaker, but thank goodness we can come together when we need to.”
While the Elma bats took a few innings to warm up in the first game, they were warm from the start of the nightcap as the Eagles scored six runs in the first two innings, two of which came off a home run from freshman catcher Peyton Elliott.
“That was her first home run,” Todd said. “She is a freshman. She has been working her butt off behind the plate all year long. She has done great.”
Elma scored two more runs in the fourth and added another three to end the game in the sixth inning.
“I think putting it out on the line what was going to happen put a little fire under them because they were scared,” Todd said. “They needed that fear. They had to come together. They talked more in the dugout. They were more into the game the second game and that hasn’t happened all year so that was a focus for them.”
Elma began the district tournament against La Center on Wednesday in Centralia.