Newport High’s Hanako Hirai and Alexsi Barashkoff were worn out but pleased with their team’s effort following a thrilling softball Saturday.
To start their day, the Knights handed Redmond its first defeat of the season by a shocking 20-4 count, and then the locals battled Eastlake in the 4A KingCo Tournament final at Inglemoor High.
The Knights and Wolves took the game down to the wire, with Eastlake prevailing, 2-1, and hoisting the first-place trophy. Trailing 2-0 in the top of the seventh inning, Newport’s Ariana Arnone doubled and Noelle Thomas drove her in with a sharp single. After a Lainey Hume sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Thomas stood on third as the tying run. The dramatic moment ended on a strikeout and Eastlake celebrated its triumph.
Newport (14-8 overall and 12-6 in KingCo) will next compete in the 4A Wes-King Tournament, which begins May 10 at Phil Johnson Fields in Everett.
“Honestly, we pulled it together really well the first game. We really prepared to be able to play against them better, ‘cause last time, we lost by a lot,” said lefty Hirai, who pitched 14 innings on the day. “I felt really good, I got to pitch against some of the best hitters in the state.”
Hirai said the team’s bats boosted her confidence and hopes the Knights can continue hitting well in the district tournament. She feels good moving forward in the Knights’ quest to make state again.
Added Newport shortstop Barashkoff: “I’m more than confident in our team and our abilities to go into WesCo and go back to state. It’s not a one-time thing and we showed that today. There’s no team that we can’t beat.”
She feels it will be a tough road ahead, and she’s glad to be back at 100 percent (after sustaining a sprained ankle) and giving her full effort to the Knights’ cause.
“It’s a toss up,” she said of who will make state since the competition is so fierce. “Teams are showing up, they’re bringing it, we all want it. Just who wants it more?”
Against Redmond, Newport loaded the bases myriad times and tallied runs on a mixture of hits and walks. Barashkoff homered twice — including a grand slam — and Brooklyn Richards added a long ball to propel the Knights to victory. Hume nailed a two-run single to give the Knights an early 3-0 lead.
Newport chased Redmond’s powerhouse pitcher Kiki Milloy in the fourth when the Knighta were up 7-0. Grace Haegele relieved Milloy.
On her homers, Barashkoff said with a smile: “Yes, it felt real good. I respect Kiki, though, man, she gave me one of my first strikeouts this season, so I respect her a lot.”
Newport came alive against Redmond, Barashkoff noted, and she’s proud of how the Knights batted against two of the best KingCo pitchers.
“We really wanted that win so bad, to us that was kind of like our championship,” she said.
Following a quick break, during which Barashkoff was spotted grabbing a hot dog and exchanging in some banter by the grill, it was time for another tough seven innings of play. She glanced at Hirai after the Eastlake game and tossed her a nod of approval for putting her arm to the test for both matchups.
“It’s always fun just to be out here and play the sport you love, it’s a big deal for us to be out here and make it to the championship,” Barashkoff said. “I feel if we got one more inning against Eastlake, I feel like we could have had ‘em. Our bats were coming alive.”