MONROE — The Arlington girls softball team is headed to the WIAA State Softball Championships in Spokane from May 24-27, after winning the district championships at Sky River Park on Thursday, May 16.
“This is pretty much the same team as last year, the only thing we changed was the middle infield,” said head coach Dan Eng. “The team matured and it just came together for us. This is a bunch of young ladies with determination who wanted to take care of unfinished business, especially the seniors that came in as star freshmen. They wanted to fulfill those high expectations.”
The Lady Eagles beat Kamiak in the quarterfinal game on Tuesday, May 14, finishing 9-3. In the semifinal round, the Eagles shut out Cascade in five innings, with a 13-0 victory.
In their May 14 game against Kamiak, the Eagles consistently scored runs in the second, third and fourth innings, the latter of which finished with six runs scored, giving the Eagles a 9-0 lead. The Knights managed three runs in the last two innings, but couldn’t overpower the Eagles. Senior Ronnie Ladines scored two home runs, while Senior Hayden Fields hit one homer and had an RBI double on top of her winning pitches on the mound.
The semifinal game reached its peak in the second inning when Arlington powered out six runs, and Ladines went 5-for-7 at the plate, including another two home runs.
The 4A District 1 Championship game took place again at Sky River Park, on Thursday, May 16.
The Eagles played on the same field as their ill-fated 2012 state-qualifying game against Marysville-Pilchuck, a loss that barred the Wesco 4A North top team from playing at the state championships.
There was no stopping them this time, however.
The Eagles came on the field to face local division rival Lake Stevens, and pulled off their second shutout of the tournament, with a 3-0 victory over the Vikings.
Pitching once again after a basketball injury kept her out of the game until the end of April, Ladines pitched seven innings with 12 strikeouts. Senior Hayley Fields scored a home run in the fourth inning, bringing the Eagles’ lead to 2-0 after Katelynn Kazen scored in the second inning. Lynsey Amundson ran in another run on an RBI single from Marisa Rathert in the fifth inning, which brought their score up to 3-0. The team kept the Vikings scoreless in the last two innings and with that sealed their first district title for the senior players.
“The hard part now is playing at state,” said Eng. “All the teams that have made it are no pushovers. We practice every day, we hit every day, we work on fielding and fundamentals, and the team took all those tasks to heart. They worked hard supporting each other.”
Eng applauded the entire team for their dedication, and noted that several pairings worked like magic for the team.
“The pitcher-catcher dynamic is important and it takes that combination to win. Ronnie Ladines has been a leader since I had her as a freshman, and she was obviously very excited to get the district title under her belt. So was Lynsey Amundson, who has really been the backbone of this team. Those two have been together since they were little girls playing Stilly Valley Little League, and they just have this unwritten way of communicating.”
Ladines and Amundson agreed with Eng.
“It’s really great because me and Ronnie have been pitching-catching since we were nine years old,” said Amundsen. “There is a thing we have that’s carried on throughout the years. This team has been a family atmosphere and we really came together this year, and I think that’s why we’ve done so well. And being seniors, it’s icing on the cake to be district champions.”
“We’ve been playing so well recently, we want to keep it the same and just keep playing like we have been,” said Ladines, who will play for Kent State University next year. “I was pretty confident. Our whole team stepped it up with our freshman coming in and hitting a home run, every single person contributing. I’m just trying to get as far as we can and I know this team is capable of a lot of things, and if we keep playing the way we do, we will make it really far.”
Another winning dynamic for the Eagles is the Fields family — which includes Hayden, Hayley and Kendall Fields as Eagle softball players. Hayden and Hayley are seniors this year and excited to be able to play with their little sister Kendall, a freshman.
“Hayley had a 21-game hitting streak. She is a phenomenal hitter. And you know she helped the team a lot in the first 12 games when Ronnie’s finger was broken. They are a very tight family. Hayden and Hayley are actually triplets and their number one fan, Hannah, is always in the stands.”
The Eagles will take the support of the community with them when they travel to Spokane for the state championships on Friday, May 24.
“The Arlington community and school are all amazing,” said Amundson, who will play for Western Washington University next year. “You come to school and people say, ‘Congrats on your game!’ All of the parents and grandparents are supportive, and when you walk around town, people are congratulating you on your success.”
“At state, our goal is to leave it all out on the field,” she said. This is the last of our games at Arlington High School. This is everything we’ve worked for all year and in the off-season and hopefully it will come together this weekend. Hopefully we can go out and win.”