Prep softball: Hawks finish with best record in four years, head to postseason play

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Mountlake Terrace’s Kira Doan, Gabby Calhoun, Sammy Ruiz and Ashley Fitzgerald (left to right) hope to have more reasons to celebrate this week as Hawks begin District 1 tournament play on Tuesday.

With 14 regular season wins to their credit, the Mountlake Terrace Hawks surpassed the expectations of many observers — but now the Hawks will face the challenge of postseason play as the District 1 3A Softball Tournament begins on Tuesday.

Terrace joins a field of seven other teams vying for a top three finish in the district tourney and the prize that goes with it: a berth in the WIAA 3A State Softball Championships later this month.

At 14-6, the Hawks finished the 2016 regular season with their best record during the four years that Shannon Rasmussen has coached the squad. “We’re pretty confident going into districts at least with what we have and we’re hoping we that can go on and improve that record,” Rasmussen said.

As the no. 5 seed, Terrace will begin their run at the double-elimination district tourney with a match-up against no. 4 seeded Marysville-Pilchuck, a team they lost to back on April 26. But Rasmussen points to history as an example of what can happen in the postseason; in 2013 and 2014 the Hawks were defeated by the Tomahawks during the regular season but turned the tables and opened the district playoffs with wins over M-P.

Rasmussen chooses to boil down district play to a simple formula: get two victories. “We’ve got to win two games; if you win two games, you go to state,” she explained. “So we’re going to go in with that mindset; take it one game at a time and just make sure that we get our two wins so we can get out of there and go to state and continue our season.”

But getting a pair of victories this week may be easier said than done. Even if the Hawks prevail against the 16-4 Tomahawks, they would likely face the tournament’s no. 1 seeded Meadowdale Mavericks (17-3). The tourney also boasts last year’s state runner-up Everett Seagulls (16-4) and a pair of 13-7 teams that may be even better than their records indicate: Glacier Peak and Edmonds-Woodway.

Mountlake Terrace’s six losses during the regular season this year came against five teams – Meadowdale, Everett, Glacier Peak (twice), Marysville-Pilchuck and Edmonds-Woodway.

“We’re going to have to beat a good team that has probably beat us once this year,” Rasmussen said of the Hawks’ mission at the district tourney. “There’s a lot of good teams up there. I’d say there’s six teams, solid teams, that are all competing for (three) spots, plus there’s two other teams that, who knows, they could go out there and make some noise.”

Four district games will begin simultaneously at 4 p.m. at Phil Johnson Fields in Everett on Tuesday, May 17. The winners and losers of those games will match-up later that same evening to complete the first day of tournament play. The six remaining teams after Day 1 will return to Phil Johnson Fields on Thursday, May 19, to complete the tournament.

Prep Softball: 2016 District 1 3A Softball Tournament preview

When: Tuesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 19, 4 p.m. each day
Where: Phil Johnson Fields, Everett
Bracket: click http://www.wescoathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=1887&sport=15
What’s at stake: top three finishers to WIAA 3A State Softball Tournament

Meadowdale Mavericks (no. 1 seed)
2016 record: 15-3 in Wesco League South Conference, 17-3 overall
Coach: Dennis Hopkins
Top players: Samantha Gregoryk, Julia Reuble, Emma Helm, Lauren Wallace, Kaitlyn Webster
Notes: began 2016 season with a 12-game winning streak; averaged 14.8 runs per game in their 17 victories, five runs per game in their three losses; finished third in 2015 state tournament; has qualified for four straight state tournaments

Everett Seagulls (no. 2 seed)
2016 record: 14-3 in Wesco League North Conference, 16-4 overall
Coach: Mike Millar
Top players: Sydney Taggart, Rachel Christensen, Gabby Koehler, Andrea Hedington
Notes: gave up just 41 runs to opponents in 20 games this year, including the recording of 10 shutouts; runner-up in state tournament in 2011, 2015

Glacier Peak Grizzlies (no. 3 seed)
2016 record: 13-5 in Wesco League South Conference, 13-7 overall
Coach: Caitlin Nies
Top players: Kendall Curtis, Corell Hjert, Bella MacMillan, Abby Winckler
Notes: begun 2016 season 0-3; scored double-figure run totals in ten of their final 12 regular season games; looking for second trip to state tournament (previous appearance in 2014)

Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks (no. 4 seed)
2016 record: 14-3 in Wesco League North Conference, 16-4 overall
Coach: Aaron Zachry
Top players: Hannah Larson, Kylie Lopez, Alexys Phelps, McKenzie Justice
Notes: has wins over three upper seeds (Meadowdale, Everett, Glacier Peak) this season; regular season included a stretch of 12 wins in 13 games

Mountlake Terrace Hawks (no. 5 seed)
2016 record: 12-6 in Wesco League South Conference, 14-6 overall
Coach: Shannon Rasmussen
Top players: Sammy Ruiz, Kira Doan, Ashley Fitzgerald, Jazz Zenk
Notes: Sammy Ruiz missed final two games of regular season due to injury, but is expected to be back for district tourney; beat out Edmonds-Woodway for #5 tournament seed due to April 29 victory over Meadowdale (E-W went 0-2 against the South Conference champion)

Arlington Eagles (no. 6 seed)
2016 record: 10-7 in Wesco League North Conference, 10-10 overall
Coach: Dan Eng
Top players: Kendall Fields, Chandler Bishop, Alyssa Crain
Notes: finished 2016 regular season winning four of five games and holding opposing teams to less than 5.4 runs in final eight games; 2013 state champions

Edmonds-Woodway Warriors (no. 7 seed)
2016 record: 12-6 in Wesco League South Conference, 13-7 overall
Coach: Mike Venable
Top players: Kyra Collingridge, Kendra Cooper, Ari Girouard
Notes: looking to return to state after going 1-2 in last year’s tournament; just two seniors on the squad: Air Girouard and Adrianna Vison-Montgomery

Oak Harbor Wildcats (no. 8 seed)
2016 record: 4-13 in Wesco League North Conference, 5-15 overall
Coach: Tashina Tosh
Top players: Audrey Howard, Alexa Findley
Notes: beat out Stanwood for #8-seed in tournament due to their two victories over the Spartans this season (5-1 on April 1 and 8-4 on May 3); 1-9 against district tourney opponents during regular season (only victory was a 11-2 win over Meadowdale on April 26)

–Story and photo by Doug Petrowski

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