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Newport blanks Monroe behind pitching gem from Wood, headed back to state softball tournament | Prep sports news
With its season on the line, and facing a powerful Monroe lineup on its home diamond, Newport's softball team knew the task of earning a 4A state tournament berth would be a formidable challenge.
Seven innings and one run later, the Knights accomplished their goal, albeit in an unconventional manner, beating the Bearcats 1-0 in the district crossover game to keep their season alive another week and earn a trip to Spokane.
"There are a lot of runs scored in KingCo," head coach Hannah Olson said, adding it was the first 1-0 game she could remember. "If you had told me that would be the end of the scoring, I wouldn't have believed it. But we'll take it."
Junior Kathryn Wood spun a gem in the pitcher's circle for the Knights, allowing only five base hits and one walk in a complete game shutout. Wood struck out three Monroe batters, and worked out of trouble on a handful of occasions including a two-out jam in the seventh when she stranded the tying run at third.
"My teammates had my back," Wood said. "I knew I had to have theirs, too."
Newport scored the only run of the game in the top half of the first inning, and Wood was in the middle of that as well.
She opened the game with a single before moving to second on a sacrifice from India Gants, and scored on a throwing error in what would prove the decisive tally.
"We're so proud of her," senior Kaitlin Sahlinger said of Wood. "We knew Kat had it and we had to have her back because she could do it in the circle."
The keeps the season alive for the Knights, who will head to Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane for the 4A state softball tournament May 30 and 31.
"They are a great group of kids, and it is great to be part of," Olson said, adding she has coached many of the upperclassmen since they were elementary schoolers. "This is all I could ask for."
Newport, winners of three straight loser-out games and four of its past five overall, will open at 10 a.m. May 30 against Bethel, with the quarterfinals set for later in the day.
"We never expected this, but we're so happy," Sahlinger said. "It took so much hard work and it has all paid off."