Tornados Fastpitch Falls to Auburn in 3A State Tournament

By Jacob Dimond /
Posted 5/31/22

The Yelm Tornados entered the 3A fastpitch state tournament on Friday, May 27 as the No. 8 seed as they faced off against Cascade High School in Everett.

After a brief rain delay, Yelm took to the …

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Tornados Fastpitch Falls to Auburn in 3A State Tournament


The Yelm Tornados entered the 3A fastpitch state tournament on Friday, May 27 as the No. 8 seed as they faced off against Cascade High School in Everett.

After a brief rain delay, Yelm took to the plate to kick off the game at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.

Sophomore center fielder Elissa Dewees got the game rolling for Yelm with a leadoff walk. After some nifty work on the bases, Dewees ended up on third base and scored off of an Ashlyn Aven sacrifice fly. The Tornados were up 1-0 when they closed the top of the inning, and it was time for freshman pitcher Jessika Jennings to make her postseason debut on the mound. 

Cascade quickly matched the score with a solo homerun in the bottom of the first inning, but Jennings looked calm, collected and ready to work. 

The Tornados had an active second inning as they scored five runs against Cascade. Freshman utility-player Leah Hicks collected a leadoff single at the start of the inning. Following the plate appearance by Hicks, senior second baseman Molly Embrey drew a walk. Eventually both runners advanced on a wild pitch, which allowed senior Vivian Watts, who played first base, to collect an RBI on a bunt single. With runners on the corners, Dewees capitalized with an RBI on a sacrifice fly, giving the Tornados a 3-1 lead.

Senior shortstop Kailei Thompson sent Carley Waite, who was pinch-running for Watts, to third with a bunt in the bottom of the second. Aven was then up to bat again, and she broke out the fireworks with a moonshot homerun, which scored Thompson and Waite. The Tornados led 6-1, before Cascade launched another solo home run of their own.

Going into the third inning, Yelm led 6-2, but Cascade rallied to secure another home run, which scored two runs. Jennings was replaced by sophomore Madisyn Erickson following the third inning. Jennings allowed four earned runs on five hits and collected five strikeouts in her outing.

The Tornados added two more runs in the fourth, thanks to several Cascade errors.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Tornados’ bats remained active as Embrey secured a double. Erickson had her first at-bat of the day and quickly left her mark with an RBI double, increasing the team’s lead to 9-4. Thompson followed with an RBI single of her own, scoring Erickson from second. Yelm led 10-4 as they entered the sixth inning.

Both teams had a quick sixth inning where no runs were scored, but the seventh inning began with an Embrey double. Dewees followed up by driving in Embrey for an RBI off of a single, making the score 11-4. The final score of the game came from a Thompson RBI double.

Yelm defeated Cascade 12-4 and their state championship hopes lived to see another game.

“Like I said last week, I don’t always put my best swing on some balls, but I’m always looking to hit it hard and I did,” Aven said after the game. “(The home run) was a really big moment in the game that we needed and it felt great coming off the bat. … Going forward, if we play to our level, we’re going to do some great things.”

Embrey, who collected two hits and two walks in the outing, was proud of her efforts against Cascade.

“I stayed consistent today and I made sure that in every moment I had during the game that I did my best and gave my full effort,” Embrey said. “If everyone can stay consistent, we’re going places in this tournament.”

Head Coach Lindsay Walton was proud of the ladies following their victory, but was quick to reset their focus on the team’s next opponent, which was top seeded Walla Walla.

“They’re a one seed, so they’ll be tough,” Walton said. “We have to hit the ball and we have to make routine plays. They’ll put the ball in play and we have to make sure we’re ready. We’re most successful when we score runs early in games.”

Walton was also proud of two young Tornados, Jennings and Erickson, who both stepped up to fill in for Watts.

In their next matchup against Walla Walla, the tides turned for the Tornados. The top-seeded Blue Devils put on an offensive showcase, defeating the Tornados 16-6.

Yelm’s pitching struggled in the contest as the team allowed 13 earned runs of the 16 total runs. Erickson allowed seven hits and six earned runs over 2.2 innings pitched, and was replaced by third baseman Aven in the third. Aven pitched 1.1 total innings, and gave up five runs, which included two earned runs. The senior also walked three. Watts pitched .2 innings, and gave up five earned runs.

Aven collected two hits in the outing, including her fourth home run of the tournament, and collected two additional RBIs. Hicks had an RBI single in the outing which scored two runners as well.

On Saturday, May 28, the Tornados responded to the blowout loss against Walla Walla with a victory over Bishop Blanchet with shootout performances from both offenses.

The starting pitcher for Yelm was Jennings, who went four innings, allowing seven total runs (five earned runs) and three hits. The freshman also gave six free bases to Blanchet, as she walked six batters. Aven eventually entered in relief and allowed four earned runs on one hit. The senior also walked three.

Aven secured two home runs and six RBIs in the outing, putting her at six total home runs in the postseason. Hicks also hit a home run in the outing and collected three RBIs.

In their final game of the season, Yelm was set for a district playoff rematch with Auburn Riverside. In their last meeting, the Tornados won 18-16, but history did not repeat itself.

The Tornados dropped the loser-out matchup 12-2, effectively ending the team’s dreams of a state championship. Watts made her final start on the mound of her high school career and went 3.1 innings. She allowed seven hits and five runs in her time on the mound, before Erickson entered in relief. Erickson allowed seven runs (six earned).

Senior Kendall Lawson notched two base hits in the outing, one of which drove in an RBI. Jennings also had an RBI single in the outing.

Lake Washington High School defeated Walla Walla 14-8 in the 3A state championship game.


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