AR ready to turn up the heat

They hit the heat and a hurdle last weekend. But as far as coach Chris Leverenz is concerned, it’s now a wide-open road for the Auburn Riverside Ravens as they head to Tacoma for this weekend’s Class 3A state softball tournament.

Auburn Riverside’s Hannah Melick (5) puts the tag on Enumclaw’s Devan Borgen during last Saturday’s district semifinal game. Melick and the Ravens went on to a 3-0 victory before falling to Timberline in the finals

They hit the heat and a hurdle last weekend. But as far as coach Chris Leverenz is concerned, it’s now a wide-open road for the Auburn Riverside Ravens as they head to Tacoma for this weekend’s Class 3A state softball tournament.

The Ravens, with a mixture of veterans and youth, played their way into the finals of the West Central-Southwest District tournament before dropping a 6-5 decision to Timberline last Saturday at Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway.

“It’s all good,” Leverenz said. “I’m really proud of the kids, with the youth and the kids we have. Certainly, it was disappointing to make those errors and lose. (The Ravens uncharacteristically made six in the title game.) But I wasn’t disappointed with our finish.”

Auburn Riverside (19-5 overall) will take on North Central of Spokane at 11 a.m. on Friday at South End Recreation Area (SERA) in Tacoma. Right below them at the same time, defending state champion Kennedy meets Issaquah.

Depending on the outcome of those two games, the Ravens and Lancers could meet in a quarterfinal game at 5 p.m. Friday. They squared off in the South Puget Sound-Seamount League playoffs on May 10, with JFK prevailing, 2-0.

Last year, Riverside and Kennedy met in the district finals, with the Ravens pulling out a 3-2 victory.

Leverenz said that subject came up in the aftermath of the loss to Timberline.Auburn Mountainview’s Alexi Morton also qualified for state with a fourth-place run in the 100-meter dash. Morton finished in 12:61 seconds to punch her ticket to another state competition in just her second year at Mountainview.

“Our goal was just to place and go to state,” Morton said. “That was pretty much our goal as a team.”

“The girls were kind of hanging their heads, and Amanda (Fitzsimmons) said, ‘You know what? The team we beat last year (in the district final) won state. We just need to refocus.’”

Leverenz’ plan was to exactly that.

“We’ll give them the day off (on Monday) and then we’re going to go back to the drawing board,” she said. “It was a long week with all that heat.”

The Ravens posted shutouts in their first three district games: 2-0 against Olympic in the first round and 2-0 against Capital in the quarterfinals, both last Friday, and 3-0 in Saturday’s semifinals against Enumclaw. Fitzsimmons struck out 13 against Olympic and 12 more against Capital, allowing one hit and two hits, respectively. She pitched another two-hitter against Enumclaw.

Leverenz, thinking big-picture, gave Fitzsimmons a rest in the final, starting Kaity Sellers instead.

The Ravens gave Sellers a quick lead, scoring three in the top of the first. Timberline got two of those back in its half. The Blazers tallied three more in the third when Fitzsimmons came in for an inning in the circle. That was the same inning Auburn Riverside was hurt by a number of those errors.

“It was just some tough things. We made some extra throws that gave their kids some extra bases,” Leverenz said.

Auburn Riverside rallied to tie it in the fifth at 5-5 before Timberline got the eventual winning run in the bottom of the sixth.

Blazers pitcher Annaleisha Parsley struck out 11 Ravens.

Trojans fall short

Auburn’s season came to an end with two losses in three games at district.

The Trojans fell to Timberline in their opener, 2-0, as Blazers pitcher Parsley struck out 14.

Auburn (9-14) stayed alive with a 7-5 victory against SPSL 3A stablemate Sumner in a consolation game. But they came up empty against Kelso in a loser-out game on Saturday, 1-0.

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