Pure determination propelled the Newport Knights to a berth in the Class 4A state softball tournament.
With their season on the line, the Knights cruised to a 9-1 win against the Woodinville Falcons in a winner-to-state, loser-out game on May 17 in Kenmore. The Knights, who had an overall record of 3-1 during the four-day district tournament, were led by pitcher Hanako Hirai the entire way. The sophomore ace pitched every single inning during districts.
Newport head coach Parris Mamon said she performed at her best in the most pressure-packed contest of the 2018 season.
“I thought it was the best she has looked in the circle all year. She was throwing hard, she was hitting her spots and was just taking care of business. She was on her game and was so locked in,” Mamon said of Hirai’s outing against Woodinville.
The Knights offense was prolific against the Falcons. Newport’s Ariena Arnone got her team on the board with a two-run home run in the top of the second inning. Arnone finished the game with three hits. Lexsi Barashkoff had a team-high three RBI and Taylor Woodey had two RBI in the victory.
“It is a big rush,” Mamon said of defeating Woodinville. “To beat Woodinville, you have to play at the top of your game. We were pretty on point and did what we were supposed to do.”
Following a April 25 victory against the Mount Si Wildcats, Mamon said he was determined to see his team peak at the right time.
The Knights delivered with exactly the kind of performance the head coach envisioned in playoff action.
“We wanted to make sure we made this run to state. Fortunately for us, it all played out just the way we wanted it to,” Mamon said.
The Knights are absolutely thriving in Mamon’s first season as head coach. In 2017, the Knights won just six games. Mason, who coached the Redmond Mustangs powerhouse softball program for several seasons, took a year off from coaching during the 2017 season but was excited to return to the fold in 2018.
“It is awesome for the kids. They worked so hard. They kept pushing and when push came to shove they took care of business. That was our goal,” Mamon said of his team earning a state tournament berth.