Everything the Hermiston Bulldogs have done this season has helped them get to this point.
The Bulldogs (16-2) will play in the 2A/3A state slow pitch softball tournament this weekend, with winning a state title the ultimate goal.
“It takes so much to get there,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said, as her team took off for a run Monday afternoon. “We have played some competitive teams from the Yakima Valley and Chiawana. It’s a really good test for the kids. People are excited about what we are doing.”
Hermiston will open state play against Prairie at noon Friday at Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.
The eight-team bracket will feature first-round and semifinal games Friday, along with two consolation games. The championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.
Hermiston advanced to state with a pair of wins Saturday at the 3A/2A MCC/GSL/GNL district tournament in Spokane.
“We won district, and that was a lot of fun,” Greenough said.
The Bulldogs defeated Rogers 10-6 in the semifinals, then eked out a 10-9 victory over Mt. Spokane in the championship game.
“In the first game, Grace (Studer) hit a home run and we went up 5-0 to start,” Greenough said. “In the second game, the kids put the ball in play as much as they could. The kids had to play defense. They (Mt. Spokane) played with us the whole time.”
The Bulldogs have 10 players off the fast pitch team that qualified for the 3A state tournament, including Studer, Bailee Noland, Sam Atilano and Janelle Almaguer.
The Bulldogs, who have won 14 consecutive games, also have gotten good contributions from freshmen Macey Tovar (second base) and Hailey South (short stop).
“It’s a really cool group of kids,” Greenough said. “This sport gives them a chance for a common goal, and (to) do something they might not have before.”
Abby Findley has done a good portion of the pitching this fall, while Noland is at first base, Studer at third, Almaguer is the rover and Atilano plays in the outfield.
The Bulldogs have been productive offensively, scoring an average of 13.8 runs a game. Noland has seven home runs this season, while Studer has five and Almaguer two. Tovar has four triples, and the team has hit a couple dozen doubles.
“It’s fun to see the different groups of kids come together,” Greenough said. “They are pretty relaxed. I have 16 kids who show up every day and love to play.”