State softball turns into painful ordeal for AR

It was an emotional week for the Auburn Riverside fastpitch team.

It was an emotional week for the Auburn Riverside fastpitch team.

Junior pitcher Amanda Fitzsimmons underwent emergency surgery last Thursday to work on a cyst on her tailbone. The surgery came one day before the Class 3A state fastpitch championships at South End Recreation Area in Tacoma last weekend, but Fitzsimmons made it to the mound nonetheless.

Those heroics notwithstanding, Auburn Riverside was sent home from the tournament with two straight losses on Friday, falling 2-0 to North Central in the first round, and 9-4 to Issaquah in consolation bracket play.

Fitzsimmons finished with 12 strikeouts and allowed two runs on four hits in a 2-0 defeat to North Central on Friday. But the Ravens mustered just two hits in an offensive struggle against the Indians.

“It doesn’t help that Amanda had to go on that little surgery last night,” Riverside coach Chris Leverenz said following the loss to North Central. “I thought she threw really well. But hitting-wise we depend on her for some hits, and that didn’t happen.

“I just would like my kids to battle a little more at the plate instead of worrying about balls and strikes.”

The toughest moment for Fitzsimmons came at the plate in the first inning. Ravens shortstop Hannah Melick got aboard on a single with one out, and the recovering pitcher was up to hit. A sincere pledge to her coach made Fitzsimmons nearly motionless when she grounded out into a double play without any resistance.

“I pinky-promised my coach that if I hit one into the infield, I would walk to first base and not run,” Fitzsimmons said. “Maybe if the ball saw some green, I would jog it out a little bit, and that’s what I did. It’s just emotionally hard when you get a double play turned on you and you can’t do anything but walk to first base.”

The Ravens fell into the consolation round against an Issaquah squad with plenty of arsenal. The Eagles racked up with 13 hits off pitchers Katie Sellers and Roxy Schwarz. Issaquah outfielder Kelly Richards went 4 for 4 with a triple, two doubles, a single and four runs scored.

Inexperience might have been a factor. The Ravens’ roster is primarily sophomores and juniors, some of whom felt a wave of nervousness on Friday morning in anticipation to play North Central.

“I think we’re all really uptight,” Fitzsimmons said. “I know a few girls during batting practice this morning were pretty keyed up and pretty nervous. I think just the nerves kind of got to us because we are such a young team and they’ve never been here before.”

Auburn Riverside finished the season with a 19-7 record.

“We didn’t think we would be out today,” Fitzsimmons said. “We thought we were going to make it Saturday. The ball just fell in the wrong spots and they would run and score, and you can’t do anything about that.”