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Jefferson fastpitch wins a pair at state tourney
By CASEY OLSON
The dream postseason run by the Thomas Jefferson High School fastpitch team ended Saturday at the South End Recreational Area (SERA) in Tacoma without a trophy.
But the Raiders proved they belonged at the state tournament Friday and Saturday. After dropping its opening-round game to Mountain View, 4-1, Jefferson rolled through the consolation bracket with a pair of wins over Walla Walla and Evergreen before losing to Inglemoor, 7-1, in a game that would have netted the Raiders their first-ever state tournament trophy.
The Raiders didnt look like a state tournament team early this season. Jefferson started the year with a 4-6 record and was forced to win nine of its last 10 games during the South Puget Sound League to garner the North Divisions fourth seed into the postseason.
But things didnt start out too well in the playoffs. The Raiders lost to Emerald Ridge at the SPSL Tournament, 10-6, to earn the leagues eighth seed into the West Central District Tournament, where they also lost their opening-round game to Central Kitsap, 6-1.
But Jefferson fought back to win three-straight games at the district tournament to qualify for its first state fastpitch championship since 2002.
The Raiders were also forced to bounce back yet another time after their first-round loss to the Mountain View Thunder on Friday.
Jefferson tallied the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the top of the second inning by catcher Shawntay Thong. Thong knocked in Erin Fujita, who led off the inning with a single. But Mountain View fought back to score three in the fourth and one in the fifth to grab the 4-1 win. The Thunder eventually finished second in the tournament.
The loss knocked the Raiders into the losers bracket, where they met the Walla Walla Blue Devils in one of the best games of the tournament. After playing to a 1-1 stalemate through the first eight innings, Walla Walla and TJ exchanged single runs in the ninth and 10th before the Blue Devils tallied a run in the top of the 11th to take a 4-3 lead.
But the Raiders again fought back to win the game, 5-4, on a game-winning hit by Thong in the bottom of the 11th. Brittany Still got the win on the mound by throwing all 11 innings. Fujita finished 3-for-5 with a double.
The Raiders then downed Evergreen 1-0 on Saturday morning thanks to a combined four-hit shutout from Jill Halvorsen and Still, who also knocked in the only run of the game.
The Raiders magic ran out against Inglemoor. The Vikings pounded out 12 hits and held a 7-0 lead after the fifth inning. Jeffersons Jayme Carbon had the only hit of the game by the Raiders a double.
Jefferson should also bring back a solid team next season. Head coach Chad Fahnlander only loses Halvorsen and starting second baseman Brittany Creek.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org