Montesano High School fastpitch coach Pat Pace never shies away from an opponent, using a “play anyone, anywhere” mentality year in and year out.
Pace does this for the sole purpose of getting his players ready for postseason play, and it’s proven to produce results as the Bulldogs have appeared in three straight 1A state championship games, winning two of them.
Pace once again loaded up his non-league slate this season and now it’s time to reap the rewards as Montesano heads back to the Class 1A state tournament for a 21st consecutive year.
The Bulldogs and Eagles are headed to Columbia Playfield in Richland for the Class 1A state tournament, while the Wildcats will compete in the 2B state tournament at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.
Montesano (19-3) will open defense of its state title against Chewelah at 10:00 a.m.
The Cougars are a far more difficult draw than what the usual No. 1 seeds face in the opening round of state. Chewelah, which returns every player from a team that placed fifth at state last year, brings a strong 21-2 record into the contest, winning its first 19 games before stumbling in their regular season finale and to Deer Park in the first round of districts.
The Cougars defeated Chelan, 11-0, to secure their districts second seed, getting a perfect game with six strikeouts from Jaelynn Skok in the victory.
The winner will play the victor of the first round matchup between Kiona-Benton (18-5) and Mount Baker (14-6) in the second round.
Montesano breezed to the state title last year, outscoring opponents, 44-7, and defeating defending champion La Center, 8-2, in the championship game.
The win avenged the Bulldogs’ 2016 loss to La Center in the title contest.
Montesano will be looking to win its third state title over the last four years and its fifth overall since 2008. The Bulldogs’ only losses this season have come against state playoff teams from larger classifications. Montesano lost to 4A Puyallup, 2A Prairie and Redmond, the defending 3A state champion.
Elma returns to the state tournament following a two-year hiatus. The Eagles (17-6) dropped their opening round game in the district tournament, losing 7-2 to Castle Rock, before winning three straight to claim the third and final seed.
Elma, which won the 2014 state championship, knocked off 1A Evergreen League foe Forks, 7-2, to secure its trip to the state tournament.
The Eagles will open state against Cascade of Leavenworth at 10:00 a.m.
The Kodiaks, champions of the Caribou League, bring a 15-5 record into state.
Should Elma and Montesano both win their first two games at the tournament they will meet in the semifinals at 9:00 a.m. on May 26. The championship game will take place that same day at 2:30 p.m.
In the 2B ranks, Ocosta will be making its second consecutive trip to the state tournament after securing the fourth seed in the District 4 tournament.
The Wildcats, which had never advanced to state prior to last season, won its first two games at state in 2017 before falling in the semifinals to eventual champion Pe Ell-Willapa Valley and fourth-place finisher Northwest Christian (Colbert) in the consolation round.
Ocosta returns its entire roster from last season and brings a 20-6 record into its first round matchup with Friday Harbor.
After defeating Toutle Lake, 14-4, in the first round of district play, the Wildcats were sent to a loser-out game after falling to Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, 15-5.
Ocosta knocked off Onalaska, 12-2, before losing to Adna, 14-8, in the seeding round.
Friday Harbor, champions of the Northwest 1A/2B League, is 13-7. The winner will face the winner of Colfax (15-7) and Liberty Christian (19-7) at 7:00 p.m.
Montesano And Ocosta Fall at State Baseball Tournament
Both Montesano and Ocosta saw their baseball seasons come to an end on May 19.
After defeating University Prep, 5-0, in the first round at Franklin Pierce High School, Montesano (20-3) lost to Cedar Park Christian, 4-2, in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A state tournament.
Montesano’s only other losses this year came against defending 1A state champion King’s Way Christian in the district championship and in a non-league game against 2A state semifinals W.F. West.
The Bulldogs featured seniors Braxton Gage, Kobe Gallinger, Kooper Karaffa, Carson Klinger, Nate Kloempken, Matt Plato, Trevor Ridgway and Kyle Trout.
Ocosta (19-6) lost to Adna, 4-0, in the opening round of the 2B state tournament at Wheeler Field in Centralia. It marked the first trip to state for the Wildcats since 2007.
Ocosta was led this season by seniors Zach Allton, Dustin Goldade, Hutner Hatton, Hayden Hoff, Noah Martin, Grant Reid and Joe Wardlow.