North Whidbey clips South Skagit

Thursday’s opening game of the District 11 Majors softball tournament at Volunteer Park was a learning experience for the 11 to 12-year-old North Whidbey All-Stars.

Many of the young ladies were playing in their first championship tournament and their inexperience showed early in the game as South Skagit scored three runs in the top of the third inning to take a 3-0 lead.

However, like in most softball and baseball games, pitching and a couple of good defensive plays are keys to who wins and who loses.

North Whidbey hurler Emily Saar rose to the occasion and kept her team in the game striking out nine South Skagit batters, and a diving grab of a line drive by shortstop Morgan Young in the top of the sixth inning that turned into a double play, choked off what could have been a big inning.

In the end, Marissa Fakkema scored the winning run on a ground ball off the bat of Riley Thompson in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the North Whidbey gals a come-from-behind 5-4 extra-inning victory.

“We made it through the first one but it was hard,” manager Robert Young said. “Our pitching was great, but we’ve got to hit the ball better.”

South Skagit had opportunities to score additional runs putting runners on second and third base with one out in the second and fifth innings, but Saar bore down on the mound.

In the second inning she struck out the final two batters and in the fifth got the second out on a weak roller back to the mound before getting Luci DeLeon on a called third strike to end the inning.

“It was really fun today,” the diminutive Saar said.

Trailing 3-0, North Whidbey

pushed across two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a lead off single by Allison Srdar, a pair of errors and a single by Faith Franssen.

North Whidbey took a 4-3 lead with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Shanna Steele led off with a walk and advanced to third on a botched double play effort.

Srdar drove Steele home with her second-straight single and Fakkema scored the go-ahead run on a double steal.

In the top of the sixth South Skagit’s Brittany Stahnes was hit with a pitched ball to open the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Marissa Leduc then lined a Saar delivery into the hole at shortstop that Morgan Young made a diving catch on, got up and doubled Leduc off second with a throw to Reilly Sandfur.

“It was a hard play but I made it,” Young modestly said after the game.

“She’s got magical reflexes,

she’s something special,” Srdar

said with a laugh.

South Skagit did manage to tie the game in the sixth inning

when Gracie Ermi stroked a two-out double plating Alisyn Schmidt.

“Emily did a great job pitching and our defense was pretty good, but our hitting has to improve,” manager Young said. “We’ve got to start hitting the ball hard out of the infield and I think we’ll do all right.”

North Whidbey plays the winner of the Sedro-Woolley/Friday Harbor game at noon today.

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