Knights postseason run comes to an end

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Casey McCarthy/Sun Tribune Royal’s Daisy Martinez swings at a pitch against Mt. Baker in the Knights’ opening game of the 1A State Tournament on Friday in Richland.

RICHLAND — Royal softball’s postseason run was cut short, falling to Seattle Christian 16-2 on Friday afternoon in Richland at the 1A State Tournament.

The Knights made a big run in the SCAC District tournament to cement their berth in the State tournament, entering as the fourth seed. Royal defeated top-seeded Naches Valley, 5-1, a team that had scored 14 runs on the Knights in both games during the regular season. Royal went on to defeat College Place before falling to SCAC champion Warden in the final.

Head coach Amanda Saenz said that her team had used their regular season losses to “build a fire” to work from.

“We just made sure to stay fundamental and keep our focus,” Saenz said. “When we came back in the postseason, we were very intentional.”

Saenz said she felt that teams may have underestimated the Knights heading into District.

“They didn’t expect us to do what we did, but we came and showed our heart and made our mark,” Saenz said. “It was really remarkable to be a part of.”

In the first round of the State tournament on Friday against Mt. Baker, the Knights were able to stay within punching distance of their opponent for most of the game, down just two runs going into the sixth inning. The Mountaineers were able to open their lead up in the last two innings, defeating Royal by a final score of 9-2.

Saenz said she was proud of her team’s performance in the opener, and chalked the loss up to “first game jitters.”

“The anxiety of being there, you could tell they were like ‘Okay, here we are, we’re in the big show,” Saenz said. “And they’d never seen that.”

The Knights bounced back in their second game of the day against Freeman. Down the entire game, the Knights pulled within a run going into the seventh inning. Royal was able to tie it up in the bottom of the inning, before taking the victory in the eighth, 8-7.

Saenz credited a short storm delay that she felt gave her team a moment to breath, and retake the momentum.

“In the dugout, I told them stop being so serious,” Saenz said. “Let’s have some fun. We’re here. We’ve been here before.”

The Knights were unable to ride the momentum, falling to Seattle Christian 16-2 in their final game of the day. Saenz said she’s excited about the program moving forward, as the team gains new players who have been playing softball from a young age.

“We have girls playing and that’s really exciting,” Saenz said. “And now, when we lose a few (players), we’re gonna gain a few. Looking into next year, we’re gonna make a solid run next year, and for years to come, because we have girls that have played.”

SCAC District champion Warden fell in their tournament opener to Elma, before winning their next five to take third place at the 1A State tournament.

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