The Montesano High School fastpitch team got to watch La Center celebrate and hoist a trophy at their expense not just once, but twice last season.
Behind an overpowering pitching performance from junior Samantha Stanfield and some big hits from sophomore Lindsay Pace, the roles were reversed in the 1A Southwest District 4 championship as the Bulldogs exorcised some demons from last year by defeating the Wildcats, 5-0, in the title game at Fort Borst Field in Centralia.
The victory sends the Bulldogs (19-3) into the state tournament for an unbelievable 20th consecutive year. The program will look to capture its ninth overall state championship, and first since 2015, when it begins state play with a first-round match-up against Zillah (16-5) on May 26 at Columbia Playfield in Richland.
Montesano faced La Center two times last year, losing to the Wildcats, 6-2, in the district finals before dropping a 9-7 game against La Center in the 2016 state championship game.
The loss in last season’s title game came after the Bulldogs built a 5-2 lead midway through the second inning only to watch the Wildcats battle back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth to capture their first state title.
Stanfield, who picked up the loss in last year’s title game, was lights out in the rematch, fanning 14 batters in a dominating appearance in the district championship.
Pace provided all the offense the Bulldogs needed in the first inning, crushing a solo home run over the center field wall to get Montesano on the board.
Even though Stanfield made sure the lone run would be enough, Pace added a run-scoring double in the third to push the lead to 2-0.
The Bulldogs also received 2 RBI from senior Allyssa Gustafson and an RBI from junior Morgan Kersker.
The shutout over La Center capped a district tournament which saw Montesano outscore its three opponents a combined 29-2.
The Bulldogs, champions of the 1A Evergreen Conference, opened district play by making quick work of Tenino, defeating the Beavers 16-1 in a game that was called after three innings due to the mercy rule.
Cheyann Bartlett and Ashley Black both drove in three runs for Montesano with Barlett hammering a second-inning home run.
Stanfield gave up just two hits and struck out 18 in the Bulldogs’ 8-1 win over Hoquiam in the semifinals.
Pace finished with three hits, including a home run, and drove in three against the Grizzlies, while teammate Peyton Poler had 2 RBI.
Last year Montesano had to survive a pair of loser-out games, defeating Elma (17-7) and Hoquiam (6-1), to earn the district’s No. 3 seed.
The Bulldogs made the most of the lower seed, knocking off Lakeside (14-6), Bellevue Christian (13-3) and Castle Rock (9-5) to advance to the state finals for a second straight year.
A victory over Zillah would set up a quarterfinal match-up against the winner of Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) (17-4) and Lynden Christian (10-10).
This marks the first district championship for Montesano since 2014 when the Bulldogs knocked off Elma, 11-4, in the title game. In addition to losing to La Center last year, Montesano lost, 7-1, to Hoquiam in the 2015 district championship before going on to win the state title.
While the Bulldogs fastpitch team gears up for state, Montesano’s baseball team saw its season come to an end in the first round of the 1A state tournament.
Playing at Castle Rock High School, Montesano, champions of the 1A Evergreen League and the third seed out of Southwest District 4, lost to Overlake-Bear Creek, 5-0, in the opening round.
Montesano could only manage two hits against Overlake-Bear Creek (21-4) as they were making their first state playoff appearance since 2015.
The Bulldogs finished their season with a record of 15-6.