Photo courtesy of Jim Nicholson Mercer Island Islanders catcher Kayla Varney tags out a Bellevue runner at the plate in a battle between KingCo 3A rival squads. The Islanders defeated the Wolverines 12-11 on March 29.

Islanders defeats Wolverines in thriller | Prep softball

Mercer Island Islanders junior softball player Maddie Rowe came up with her only hit of the game when it counted the most against the archrival Bellevue Wolverines.

Rowe, who had struck out in her previous four plate appearances, connected on a base hit to right field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring teammate Natalie Wilson from second base for the game-winning RBI in Mercer Island’s dramatic 12-11 victory against Bellevue on March 29. The Islanders improved their overall record to 2-6 with the victory. Bellevue dropped to 3-3 with the loss. Rowe’s game-winning hit was just barely out of the reach of Bellevue’s right fielder. Rowe, who allowed a paltry three earned runs in seven innings from the pitching circle, was glad to redeem herself offensively with the game on the line.

“I had struck out all day so to come back like that, I was proud of myself. Before I went up to bat, I had to remind myself to be confident in my swing. It was pretty cool. I’m just really excited,” Rowe said.

Wilson said she ran as hard as she could on the game-winning run.

“As soon as I saw the ball in the air, I just took off because there was two outs. I knew that was a walk-off (victory),” Wilson said.

The Islanders had a 9-4 lead after six innings of play but saw their lead evaporate in the top of the seventh. Bellevue scored seven runs in the top of the seventh, taking an 11-9 lead. The Wolverines sent 13 batters to the plate and capitalized on multiple Mercer Island errors in the field. The Islanders finished with eight errors defensively. Rowe credited Islanders’ team captain Kayla Varney for keeping the team focused after the debacle in the top of the seventh.

“She [Varney] told us right before we went out to hit [in the bottom of the seventh] to just have confidence in ourselves and have confidence in our team because we know we can do this. It really fueled that hunger we had at the end of the game,” Rowe said.

Varney went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored four runs. Mercer Island slugger Camryn Steiner went 4-for-5 with a game-high 5 RBI. Bellevue players Madi George, Stuart Buxton and Montana Jones each tallied three hits apiece in the loss. Mercer Island center fielder Jessica Ramseyer was tremendous defensively against Bellevue. In the top of the fourth, Ramseyer threw a strike from center field throwing out a Bellevue runner at the plate. In the top of the sixth, Ramseyer made a sliding catch before firing the ball to second base for a double play.

Mercer Island head coach Dale Watanabe was jovial following the team’s second win of the 2017 season.

“We keep talking about finishing. It’s all about each pitch and each play. These girls have taken that to heart and they had the confidence they could come back and they did,” Watanabe said. “They believe in themselves. That is awesome.”

Watanabe was completely impressed with Rowe’s all-around performance against the Wolverines.

“Maddie was awesome. She has really developed over the past year. She is very focused and only had three walks today. She came back from a number of 3-0 counts and of course having her hit the game-winning RBI, that is a really complete performance,” he said.

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