Smith gets 100th strikeout at end
By Eddie Mabanglo - Staff Reporter
The softball season has come to an end for Highline, but the season was able to end on a high note following a strong offensive outing against the Pierce College Raiders that also featured much improved defensive play.
Highline's hopes of making the playoffs this year gradually drifted into oblivion following a harsh series of consecutive defeat. Highline lost nine games in a row from April 27 through May 7 against Olympic, Everett, Edmonds, Bellevue, and Skagit Valley.
On Saturday, May 11, High- line ended the drought and the season with a pair of wins, 8-3 and 8-2.
Kalea Smith pitched all seven innings of the first game, facing 32 batters over 111 pitches. She struck out five in the outing:
Twice to Pierce catcher Brittany Camp (.407), twice to right-fielder Teagan Takayoshi (.246), and once to her counter- part Brooklyn Taylor-Sparks, who also went all seven and struck out five of her own.
Third-base Alexis Roy- al, DP Ashley Hendrickson, right-fielder Alyssa Avilla, second-base Alexis Morrow, and catcher Denise Nagayama all fell victim to Taylor-Sparks' pitching, but were able to bounce back with a strong offensive outing. Avilla was able to bring home shortstop Shaily Moses in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI single. First baseman Soraya Seumalo drew a walk with the bases loaded in the next at-bat.
Pierce answered back with a pair of their own RBIs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Highline's defense was able to keep the Raiders scoreless for the rest of the game, while the seventh inning brought out some solid batting that pushed the Thunderbirds into the lead.
"I think we all just realized that we needed to focus on the things we were struggling with like fielding and hitting instead of just focusing on one or the other," Smith said.
Highline's fielding was much more on point, only committing a single error in the bottom of the second. Highline had an offensive surge in the top of the seventh that saw RBIs from Hendrickson, Avilla, Morrow, Seumalo, and Nagayama, scoring six runs.
Game two saw Highline scoring another eight runs, with Smith pitching another seven innings. Jordyn Judge grounded out to the pitcher in the top of the third innings for a sacrifice play that scored Quintanar.
Quintanar singled in the top of the third inning to bring home Hendrickson. The fourth inning also saw a triple from Jordyn Judge that brought home Quitanar and left-fielder Rhonda Sheldon.
Judge scored from third after an RBI single from Shaily Moses. Nagayama scored on a passed ball as well.
Quintanar scored in the top of the sixth inning on an error, Judge scored on a sac-fly from Avilla.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Pierce left-fielder Samantha Blair struck out swinging to become Kalea Smith's 100th strikeout of the season.
Smith plans to use the offseason to work on the control and velocity of her pitches, and looks forward to striking out even more batters in the future.
"I'm planning on working a lot more on my speed and location of the call so I am able to have a lot more strikeouts next season," said Smith, who ends the season 11-9 with an ERA of 6.13 over 161 innings pitched.
With the season at its conclusion, Smith and the team will have the time to return to student life at Highline and continue the academic quarter.
"I'm planning on just getting ready for next year and focusing on school," Smith said.
Highline ends the season 14-25, sixth place in the North division.
The first round of the 2019 NWAC Softball Championships will begin tomorrow May 17 at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane. The event will be broadcast live on YouTube starting at 10 a.m