It had been two years since the last loss. Woodinville had won 39 straight games and 44 consecutive regular season games.
But on April 30th, Woodinville suffered a knockout punch from Eastlake in the form of a 10-2 defeat. The outcome sent shockwaves throughout the Kingco 4A Conference. The Woodinville Falcons were indeed mortal.
The following day, it wasn’t business as usual.
“We didn’t pick up a ball for practice,” Woodinville coach Dani Tachell said. “We just talked… We ran into good competition [Eastlake] and they exposed our weak spots… It lit a fire underneath everyone’s butts and reminded us what we’re competing for. I told the girls, `Hey we’re fighting for standings now. We’re fighting for the number one seed in the tournament.’ I think it was something that everyone needed to hear.”
The next day, Woodinville played host to rival Inglemoor. And the Lady Falcons came out fighting. Paced by Erin McGrath’s 4 RBIs, Woodinville knocked off the Lady Vikings 13-3. The win improved Woodinville’s record to 12-1 in Kingco 4A and 14-1 overall.
“We took the Eastlake loss to heart but we knew that we needed to bounce back even harder,” Woodinville’s Erin McGrath said.
The Falcons wasted no time getting on the board. In the bottom of the first inning, Rachael Rhinehart singled to score Megan “Peanut” Taketa. Woodinville led 1-0.
In the bottom of the second, Molly Taketa scored on a wild pitch. Moments later, Charlotte Grover grounded into a fielder’s choice. This scored Chloe Lingen to make it a 3-0 game.
As one inning begat another, the Falcons kept up the pressure. Peanut Taketa peppered an RBI double. Erin McGrath cracked a 2-run single. Brooke Tilson bashed a 3-run double. Before long, the Falcons had tallied 13 runs.
This was more than enough to support starting pitcher Rachael Rhinehart. The junior southpaw pitched five innings and surrendered 3 runs on 5 hits. She walked two and struck out three.
Rhinehart was also supported by a strong defense. Especially second baseman Peanut Taketa. Woodinville’s little spark plug motored into shallow right-center field to make a nice over-the-shoulder catch.
As of this writing, Woodinville held a narrow lead in the standings. Eastlake (11-2) and Newport (10-3) were nipping at their heels. The Falcons had regular season games remaining against Newport, Skyline and Mount Si.
TEAM LEARNING AND GROWING AS SEASON DRAWS TO A CLOSE
Erin McGrath smiled and nodded when asked about her senior season.
“I’m just remembering to have fun and be with these girls,” McGrath said. “They’re my family and my sisters. Every moment I get I’m cherishing it. It’s coming down to the wire now.”
Coach Tachell echoed those sentiments.
“We do become so close throughout the season you know,” Tachell said. “We’re like sisters where you love them like sisters and you hate them like sisters too. Sometimes you have to slap them on the wrist and sometimes you need to pull them back in and give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. Sometimes [the slap on the wrist] can be a hard thing to do because [they] don’t always see the lesson and the action until later down the road. But we’ve got a mature group of girls and they’re starting to see what it takes to get to where we want to go.”