Chewelah softball looks to next year

Chris Rader
Staff Writer

Ties for fifth at State

The Chewelah Cougars had a successful state tournament, winning three games before being ousted in the semifinals of the consolation bracket by the eventual third place team Hoquiam.
The state tournament was the first for the Cougars since 2010, but the players weren’t overwhelmed by the experience, said head coach Tom Skok, “Getting off the bus on Friday morning there were some anxiousness going in both me and the players, but by the time we got done with the opening ceremonies, getting loose and going through warmups, those nerves had been replaced by a confident energy.”
Undefeated opponent

The Cougars would need that energy right away as they had drawn previously undefeated Cle Elum-Roslyn (23-2) for their first-round opponent.
They’re good but they’re not unbeatable, is the scouting report coach Skok got about the Warriors and as the game wore on the Cougars felt even more comfortable, “I felt they looked a lot like Colville and Lakeside, and we had been able to hold both of those teams to five runs or less this season and we could score more than that on this team.
“So if we can play good defense I thought we could beat these guys, and we did.”
The game was still scoreless after three innings, but coach Skok felt the Cougars were about to break through, “We were hitting balls hard, but right at the defense so I kept telling the girls to ‘keep hitting it, it’s going to find gaps and we’ll score some runs,’ and sure enough, when we scored the first few runs it took the wind out of Cle Elum’s sails.”
Chewelah cruised to an 8-1 victory.
The win over Cle Elum set up a NEA showdown with the Colville Indians (18-8, 10-4), with a win over CHS putting Chewelah into the state semifinal game.
JHS might have wanted the victory too much, however, the Cougars played uncharacteristically tight in a 12-1 loss to the Indians.

Unusual errors

“We were trying too hard against Colville and it showed,” said coach Skok, “We made some errors that we don’t usually make, even unsure of where to throw the ball at times.”
Chewelah rebounded in their final game of the day against Warden, when it could have been easy to pack things in and be happy with the trip to state, the Cougars recovered and jumped out to a 9-1 lead and held on for a 9-6 victory.
“I was worried that we would have a hangover from the Colville game, but after trailing 1-0 early on we rallied to go up big before giving up a big inning of our own, late.”
That second win of the day put JHS in position to play for a 3rd/4th place trophy on Saturday.
Saturday’s first game was against Zillah and the Cougars played well from the start, surging to an early lead and cruising to a 12-2 victory. In the consolation semifinals Chewelah had trouble getting started against Hoquiam and fell to the eventual third place finisher by the final score of 6-2.
“Hoquiam’s pitcher was able to pitch herself out of trouble, we would get a couple of runners on, but we couldn’t get the third hit to bring them in,” said coach Skok.
In all, the Cougars finished the season 19-7 overall and 10-4 in the NEA and without any seniors departing, Chewelah seems set up for another state run next season.
“I am super happy with the girls, and for next season the things we need to work on are the little things that make a difference in a state tournament.” Coach Skok went on to add that “Another thing that I am grateful for is how throughout the season they kept improving. Even from the district tournament to the state tournament we got better, and from a coach’s perspective you can’t ask for more than that.”