On a picture-perfect spring day, Columbia High played some of its best softball of the 2002 season last Saturday.
Alas, there was no picture-perfect ending to CHS's Trico League game with visiting Woodland, which edged the Bruins 3-2 in 11 innings, despite committing 10 errors in the field.
"The girls played their hearts out," Bruins co-coach Al Blankenship noted. "Woodland just capitalized more on our three errors than we did on their 10."
The Beavers (2-1, 4-1) got a lead-off triple to right field to start the 11th and brought her home with what proved to be the winning run on a fielder's choice to CHS second baseman Megan Harvey.
The Bruins (0-2, 3-2) had a play at the plate after getting the out at first, but a hard slide by the Woodland runner and an off-line throw by CHS first baseman Corrine Blankenship prevented catcher Crystal Blankenship from completing it.
Columbia -- which was out-hit 7-5 and left 14 runners on base -- was unable to answer in the bottom of the 11th against Woodland ace Hannah Hanes, who finished 11 strikeouts and three bases on balls in notching her fourth win of the season.
Woodland's victory overshadowed a fine pitching performance by CHS junior Mallory Holtman (1-2), who recorded seven strikeouts and walked just four.
The Bruins tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth when Woodland threw the ball into right field while trying to get CHS sophomore Jessica Miller out at first.
Both Miller and lead runner Crystal Blankenship scored before Woodland could return the errant throw back to the infield.
After Holtman blanked the Beavers in the top of the seventh, the Bruins were threatening again in the home half.
They loaded the bases with one out but Woodland denied them by converting an unsual double play on an infield fly by sophomore Krista Bakke that caused confusion on the part of lead runner Shelly Putnam and her third-base coach, Greg Holtman.
Thinking the ball (which dropped uncaught behind the pitching rubber) was still in play, Holtman sent Putnam home, where she was tagged out for the third out of the inning.
"The umpires said they called out `infield fly,' but I don't think anybody heard it," Blankenship reflected. "Still, they made the right call."
That call notwithstanding, the Bruins had ample opportunities to win it with they hitting, but they weren't able to come through with the hits when CHS needed them.
"Our batting let us down a bit. We looked at too many called third strikes," he noted, adding, "But you can leave that many kids on base (14)and expect to win."
Putnam was the only CHS player with more than one hit; she had two, both singles.
Crystal Blankenship and Lisa Graves also singled for CHS, while Harvey banged out the Bruins' only extra-base hit of the game: a double.
"The girls played hard. They wanted to win badly. Things just didn't go our way," Coach Blankenship said. "But it was still a good all-around game for us. We'll be ready the next time we face Woodland."
Ridgefield 7, at Columbia High 3 --
The Spudders took advantage of three walks and three hits to score five runs with none out in the top of the third during last Thursday's Trico League encounter.
The big blow was a double to right-center field that cleared the bases.
Ridgefield's rally erased a 1-0 CHS lead. And, as the game turned out, the Spudders were lucky they had every one of those runs entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
That's because the Bruins threatened to come back and make a new game of it.
Krista Bakke made it 7-2 with a triple that knocked in Jessica Miller. Megan Harvey followed with a single that scored Bakke.
But Ridgefield was able to register the final out before CHS could do further damage.
Freshman Corrine Blankenship put CHS up 1-0 in the bottom of the first with a single that brought in junior Lisa Graves, who singled to lead off the inning.
Overall, however, Ridgefield out-hit Columbia 8-6.
At Columbia High 16, Stevenson 3 --
The Bruins notched a season-high in runs scored in their March 20 non-league win over the Bulldogs.
Crystal Blankenship, Corrine Blankenship and Krista Bakke drove in three runs apiece for the Bruins, who connected for a season-best 11 hits.
Corrine Blankenship and Bakke each hit an RBI single and a two-run triple.
Crystal Blankenship slugged a bases-clearing triple in the first inning to ignite a nine-run Bruins rally.
She also got the decision, teaming with reliever Shelly Putam to pitch five innings of three-hit ball, to improve to 2-0.