It is a big trophy, but it felt light for the Elma Eagles softball team Saturday as they hoisted the Class 1A state championship trophy for the first time in school history.
The Eagles defeated Mt. Baker, 6-1, in the championship game, completing a four-game run to the title.
“We showed up today,” coach Janene Todd said. “This tournament was different for us. We had a different mindset. Nobody thought we were going to be here.”
Elma started the year losing four of its first five games. But as the season progressed, the Eagles continued to improve and Elma found a new level in the postseason. The Eagles started the state tournament with an 8-0 win over Zillah in the first round and demolished Seattle Christian, 14-0, in five innings to earn a spot in the semifinals for the first time since 2005.
“I think everyone just peaked at the right time for state,” senior Brooke Goldsmith said. “We all brought our A game for state, and that is what we needed to do.”
The Eagles faced their toughest test of the tournament in the semifinal game against Connell. Elma fell behind, 4-1, in the fourth inning, and going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Elma trailed, 5-2. With a shot at the state championship on the line, the Eagles responded with an offensive spurt when they needed it most. Goldsmith led off the inning with a triple and senior Sydney Smythe drove her in with a double. Then up came junior Izzy Cristelli.
“I went up to Izzy and said, ‘Izzy, you are the mathematician. Right now, odds are you are getting a hit.’ And she said, ‘Yes, I am,’” Todd said.
Cristelli wouldn’t just get a hit, but a home run to tie the game at 5 and send the contest into an extra inning. Goldsmith shut down Connell in the top of the eighth inning and followed her performance in the circle up by driving in the winning run. Freshman Karli Smythe earned a walk to lead off the inning, and Goldsmith followed with her third triple of the game to send Elma to the championship.
The championship would be a much easier contest than the Connell game as the Eagles grabbed the lead in the first inning on a single by Sydney Smythe to drive in Goldsmith. Elma would never trail as Goldsmith shut down Mt. Baker, not allowing a walk and striking out 11 Mountaineers.
“We have a lot of seniors and it is our coaches’ last year, so we have a lot of motivation to win and we put our hearts on the field every single game and didn’t let down,” Sydney Smythe said. “It is too unreal. At the beginning of the season, I said we are going all the way. We definitely went through a lot of bumps and bruises and finally got to hold up the No. 1.”
While Goldsmith had an MVP weekend as the winning pitcher in all four games and 11 hits over the four games, six for extra bases and two home runs, one of which was inside the park, all of the Eagles seemed to have some of their best games of the season, contributing on offense and defense. Overall, it was a total team effort that helped Elma win the title.
“It just clicked,” third baseman Shayla Shumate said. “We felt the fire and felt that urge that we needed it. (The trophy is) not very heavy, but it sure feels good.”
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