Freshman Sierra Hein hit a solo home run in the top of the eighth inning to lift Woodinville to a 1-0 win over Inglemoor last Thursday night at Inglemoor High School.
Hein’s homer was the only score in an epic pitcher’s duel between Woodinville’s Taylor Rhinehart and Inglemoor’s Mackenzie DeKay.
DeKay was devastating, as she enticed weak ground balls and harmless pop-ups throughout the game.
But Rhinehart was once again a dominant force of nature. Two weeks removed from her no-hitter against Richland, the senior shut out the Lady Vikings and struck out 15 batters in the process.
“I was working on movements and spins, and just trusting my defense as always,” Rhinehart said. “They always have my back.”
“I kind of expected it to be a pitcher’s duel,” DeKay said. “I was trying to throw them screw balls and jam them, and give them rise balls and get them to pop out.”
Woodinville improved its record to 9-0 in KingCo4A, and 15-0 overall. Inglemoor fell to 7-3, 12-4.
The scoreboard was festooned with goose eggs until that fateful eighth inning. When Hein stepped into the box to face DeKay, she took deep breaths to soothe her nerves.
“I was trying to be as relaxed as I could,” Hein said. “I was looking for the inside pitch. And when I saw it, I swung. I saw how high it was going. It was going to left field. When it went over [the fence], I was jumping up and down. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe that I had done that.”
Hein’s biggest fan that moment was Taylor Rhinehart.
“Oh my God, I was ecstatic,” Rhinehart said. “I was so excited. It was awesome.”
Hein had delivered Rhinehart with a 1-0 lead. But the Falcons still weren’t out of the woods. Inglemoor had one last chance in the bottom of the eighth.
The Lady Vikings had a runner on third base with one out. But Rhinehart struck out Kendall Levy and then enticed a ground out to end the ball game.
Woodinville coach Dani Weir was happy for Rhinehart.
“She’s healthy,” Weir said. “For the last three years she’s been battling injuries. She’s never been quite right. Now I’m watching her in practice, even in taking ground balls, everything is so much more smooth. And she’s so much more confident. It’s reflecting on the mound. She has found her confidence and found herself. I’ve never seen her throw so hard.”
Weir also smiled widely when asked about the heroics of freshman Sierra Hein.
“I think that’s a big burst of much-needed confidence for her at the plate,” Weir said. “She has come into a well-established lineup. She’s trying to contribute to that, and that’s a tall order. She came up big and was the team’s savior tonight.”