Eastlake fastpitch’s Charles silences Skyline’s bats
April 22, 2014
By Neil Pierson
There wasn’t much offense to support Skyline’s Caroline Bowman nor Eastlake’s Mikel Charles in last week’s Class 4A KingCo Conference fastpitch game.
Charles, though, got enough of it to outduel Bowman, and the Wolves knocked off the Spartans 2-0 April 15 at Skyline High School.
Charles was rarely threatened in leading the Wolves to their fourth KingCo win in five outings. The junior allowed one walk and three hits, all singles, while striking out six in a complete-game effort. She said her entire arsenal was working well against Skyline.
“My curveball is probably my best pitch, and that’s what I get a lot of people with,” she said. “But all together, it was pretty good.”
A few poorly-timed defensive miscues wound up being the difference in the game. Skyline committed five errors, but it wasn’t until the fifth inning that mistakes came back to bite the Spartans, when Eastlake (5-4 overall, 4-1 conference) broke up the scoreless tie with two runs.
“That’s a great team, Eastlake,” Spartans head coach Ken Brooks said. “They’re well-coached and you can’t make mistakes like that.”
Caroline Bowman, a freshman, matched Charles pitch for pitch through four innings. Bowman finished the game with eight strikeouts, giving up four singles and no walks.
But the Wolves got things going in the fifth as leadoff batter Katie Palmer singled and moved to second base on Abby Goux’s sacrifice bunt.
Elizabeth Tracy followed with an infield hit and stole second, putting runners at second at third with one out. Maddie Coats drove in Palmer with a fly ball to left field, and when Skyline third baseman Riley Davidson couldn’t handle Olivia Palenscar’s hot grounder, Tracy scored to put the Wolves up two.
Eastlake head coach Rob Zahn said his players came up with big plays at crucial moments, capitalizing on the chances the Spartans gave them.
“When we got into the later innings, I could tell that we had to figure out how to get a run,” he said. “Our No. 8 hitter comes up, leads off with a base hit … and then Maddie Coats has a great at-bat. She battled, battled, hit that sacrifice fly and made stuff happen.”
Skyline (6-3, 3-3) was coming off a win over Inglemoor a day earlier, but squandered the few chances it had against Charles.
Madisen Camp-Chimenti started the bottom of the fifth with a solid single. Taylor Gemmett walked and Molly Spaniac advanced them into scoring position with two outs. But Charles retired Lauren Lo with a groundout to keep the shutout going.
Charles seemingly got stronger as the game went on, collecting four of her six strikeouts in the last two innings. She fanned Emma Patterson and caught Gemmett looking for the game’s last two outs. Her partnership with catcher Corina Jones, which began during the offseason, appears to be blossoming.
“We get along really well, and it’s a friendship, too, so it’s not just softball,” Charles explained. “It’s easier to work together, and when I get out there, I feel comfortable pitching to her.”
Brooks indicated he would make some changes to the lineup – both offensively and defensively – before the Spartans returned to KingCo action April 21 at Garfield.
“I don’t know where our hitting was at,” Brooks said. “Mikel’s a good pitcher, but there’s other good pitchers we’ve seen in this league and we’ve hit them, and today we struggled.”
Eastlake, meanwhile, seems to be hitting its stride after a slow start. The Wolves were blown out in their preseason opener against Jackson and also dropped close games to Kentlake and Juanita.
“I think it shows to them that they’ve got to come ready to play,” Zahn said. “In those nonleague games, we just kind of showed up, went through the motions. We came out against Woodinville, our first league game, ready to play and we beat them.”