Kentlake fends off KW in furious finish

The powers haven’t shifted on the South Puget Sound League North Division softball diamond.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Monday, June 2, 2008 12:21pm
  • Sports

The powers haven’t shifted on the South Puget Sound League North Division softball diamond.

But perennial power Kentlake certainly received its stiffest league challenge in two years on Wednesday afternoon against rival Kentwood.

The Falcons rallied back from deficits of 4-0 and 11-9, eventually thwarting Kentwood’s upset bid in eight innings, 12-11.

“It was unreal. Epic,” Kentlake coach Greg Kaas said. “We were hanging on by a thread two or three different times.”

Kentlake (5-0 in league, 9-0 overall) hasn’t lost an SPSL North game since April 4, 2006, when it fell 8-3 to Kentwood. The Falcons now have ripped off 24 straight wins since.

But Wednesday, that streak was in serious jeopardy.

With the bases loaded and down 11-10 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kentlake’s Sarah King was hit by a pitch, plating Juliann Hartnett to tie the game. Kentlake ace Felecia Harris then worked a perfect top of the eighth, setting the stage for the Falcons’ improbable finish.

Kaihla Koroshes singled to lead off Kentlake’s half of the eighth. Carolyn Lanza, who came in to run for Koroshes, then was sacrificed to second. Kentwood pitcher Kirsten Shreve nearly wiggled off the hook, striking out Kentlake’s Jessie Richardson for the second out of the inning. Kentlake’s Hartnett then sent a drive into center field that Kentwood’s Brianna Standlee could not hang on to, pushing Lanza home with the winning run.

“I told the kids we’re not going to let this define the season,” Kentwood coach Jason Wisor said. “(Standlee) catches that ball 9 times out of 10.

“Things like that don’t happen very often.”

Nor does Kentlake usually trail. Or, for that matter, allow 11 runs in a game. The Falcons came into the contest having allowed just eight runs in their previous eight games combined.

But early on, Kentwood wouldn’t be denied, using small-ball tactics to take a 1-0 advantage. Liane DeHart worked a walk to open the game, stole second, then was sacrificed to third before scoring on a Jessica Glenn groundout.

Kentwood pushed its lead to 4-0 in the second, highlighted by a two-run homer to left field by Katy Adams. It was the first home run Kentlake’s Harris has allowed in her prep career.

“I still felt confident,” Kaas said. “I told the kids, ‘Let’s just be patient and good things will happen.’”

Almost on cue, the Falcons erupted for seven runs in the third inning on four hits, three walks and three Kentwood errors. Koroshes supplied the big hit, driving in two with a sharp single to right field. Brianne Bilbrey and Sarah Beckler added RBI singles in the frame.

Kentlake pushed its lead to 9-4 in the fourth on an RBI single from Sarah King and a suicide squeeze bunt from Brooke Evans.

As they did the entire game, the Conquerors (4-1, 6-2) responded, scoring twice in the fifth, cutting the deficit to 9-6. They added five more runs in the top of the seventh, taking an 11-9 lead on a two-run double off the base of the left-field fence from Laura Mittleider.

But it wasn’t enough to fend off Kentlake, which pounded out 13 hits, including four from Bilbrey and three more from Richardson.

“It’s a tough one (to lose),” Wisor conceded. “It’s one of those games where our kids came into the season ready for. They knew it was going to be a battle.”

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