Sports

Mercer Island/Bellevue Softball All-Stars repeat as state champs

State Champs! Back Row: (left to right) Coach Leslie Harris, Sarah Yamaura, Sydney Tomlinson, Megan Page, Claire McCarthy, Sydney Hopper, Brooke Baumgartner, India Gants, Manager Pat McCarthy. Front Row: (left to right) Maggie Pana, Kathryn Wood, Kaitlin Sahlinger, Julia Blumenstein.    - Photo contributed by Pat Yamaura
State Champs! Back Row: (left to right) Coach Leslie Harris, Sarah Yamaura, Sydney Tomlinson, Megan Page, Claire McCarthy, Sydney Hopper, Brooke Baumgartner, India Gants, Manager Pat McCarthy. Front Row: (left to right) Maggie Pana, Kathryn Wood, Kaitlin Sahlinger, Julia Blumenstein.
— image credit: Photo contributed by Pat Yamaura

A combined Mercer Island/Bellevue All-Stars softball team of 11- and 12-year-olds won the state tournament on July 23 in La Center, defeating a team from North Seattle, 14-3.

Known affectionately as the “Thin Mints,” based on the color of their uniforms (made up of softball All-Stars from the Mercer Island, Bellevue Thunderbird and Bellevue West Little Leagues), the team has gone 8-1 since beginning tournament play. The team’s sole loss was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of eventual District Nine runner-up, Fall City.

The combined team reached the West Regional Tournament, to be held on Aug. 1-9 at Fort Vancouver Field in Vancouver, Wash. They will face opening round opponents Boulder Arrowhead/Big Sky Little League All-Stars of Billings, Mont.

The tournament will be contested by 10 teams from eight states and will determine who plays for a chance to go to the Little League Softball World Series next month in Portland, Ore.

“We gave the girls the weekend off,” said team coach and Island resident Pat McCarthy. The team resumed practicing locally and will return to Vancouver on Friday.

“Our pitchers have been great, but our defense is fantastic,” he said.

“We keep getting timely hits to keep our offense going.”

Pitching, defense and timely hitting is what led the girls to the state title. Led by starters Kaitlin Sahlinger and Kathryn Wood, the Thin Mints played near perfect defense to defeat powerful hitting teams from Stilly Valley (8-7), Sedro Wooley (10-5) and Bainbridge Island (8-0) on their way to the championship game.

Mercer Island residents Julia Blumenstein and Claire McCarthy were standouts throughout the two tournaments, including the final game as Blumenstein went one-for-one with two runs scored and an RBI while McCarthy went one-for-two with a double and three RBIs.

Sarah Yamaura, representing the Bellevue West Little League while playing for the Mercer Island Little League during the regular season, was the team’s most consistent and prolific hitter and notched a perfect 1-2-3 sixth inning to save the semifinal game.

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