ELLENSBURG — Instead of the oppressive feeling of emptiness that almost always follows a doubleheader split, the Ellensburg Bulldogs on Saturday seemed decidedly upbeat after winning and then losing near mirror-image CWAC softball games with Othello.
For one thing, the Huskies brought the same unblemished league and season records (14-0 CWAC, 16-0 overall), not to mention astronomical offensive numbers and miniscule earned run averages, into the showdown on Ellensburg’s diamond.
For another, the exchange of 3-1 victories — with the Bulldogs claiming the first — left E-Burg with the top district seed via preseason number draw should the teams share the league championship.
And for still another, veteran coach Dave Kopczynski and others among the Bulldogs felt the tightly-played contests will no doubt be of benefit during what they hope and expect to be a deep postseason run.
“This was a good day for us,” Kopczynski said. “That last game was humbling, because we lost for the first time this season. But also it was positive because we got down 3-0 in the first and kept battling. We made some baserunning mistakes and did some other things we didn’t want to, but also we were playing a very good opponent and that will do nothing but help us.
“Those were state tournament-caliber games — both of them.”
Said Ally Burgess, Ellensburg’s ace pitcher, center fielder and one of three Bulldog seniors, “I agree with Dave. We played really well, even though our bats were a little slow in the second game. But it’s nice to have that challenge, where I know that if I miss my spots I’ll pay for it. I missed my spot against (Madison) Martinez in the first inning and that’s what happened.”
To be sure, Martinez lined a two-out double into the gap in right-center in the first inning of Game 1 that scored Kirsten Quigley, who’d reached on an infield single.
But that was all Othello would score off the right-hander, who’s headed to West Virginia State University in Dunbar, W.V. Burgess finished with a seven-hitter, striking out seven and walking none.
Against Dominique Martinez, the Huskies’ first-game starter, Ellensburg scored twice in the second inning on a bases-loaded walk to Karly Malcolm and Allie Kopczynski’s following single. The hosts added another run in the third on a walk to Korteney Durand, Hannah Gibson’s sacrifice bunt and Darian Olin’s RBI single.
“We made an adjustment in that first game,” Dave Kopczynski said, “by changing where we were in the batter’s box and laying off her rise pitch.”
Martinez, a freshman, walked five and had two hit batsmen through the first three innings and finished with a five-hitter, striking out eight.
Madison Martinez, a sophomore, used a baffling changeup in the second game to keep the Bulldogs off balance. She allowed five hits and one unearned run, that coming on her own third-inning throwing error, while fanning six and walking none.
Malcolm, E-Burg’s Game 2 starter, steadied after a rough first inning in which a leadoff triple, one-out walk, double and sacrifice fly gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead. She held Othello scoreless for the next three innings before Burgess came on to finish it.
But the Bulldogs would put just one runner in scoring position over the final four innings, that coming on Gibson’s double in the fourth.
Each team has one regular-season doubleheader left, with Ellensburg hosting fifth-place East Valley on Thursday while the Huskies entertain ninth-place Toppenish.
Othello 100 000 0 — 1 7 0
Ellensburg 021 000 x — 3 5 2
D. Martinez and Rodriguez; Burgess and Griffin.
Highlights: Diamond Franco (O) 2-4; Madison Martinez 2-3, RBI; Karly Malcolm (E) 1-2, 2 BB; Holly Fleshman (O) 1-3; Dominique Martinez (O) 1-3; Karly Malcolm (E) 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Allie Kopczynski (E) 1-3, RBI; Taelor Griffin (E) 1-3; Darian Olin (E) 1-2, sac, RBI; Sydney Lund (E) 1-2.
Othello 300 000 0 — 3 6 2
Ellensburg 001 000 0 — 1 5 0
M. Martinez and Rodriguez; Malcolm, Burgess (5) and Griffin.
Highlights: Franco (O) 2-4; D. Martinez (O) RBI; Kirsten Quigley (O) 2-2; M. Martinez (O) 1-3, 2b, RBI; Malcolm (E) 1-3; Kopczynski (E) 1-3; Griffin (E) 1-3; Ally Burgess (E) 1-2; Hannah Gibson (E) 1-3, 2b; Brandee Hannahs (E) 1-3.