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Wildcats wither Warriors, inch closer to Metro title


by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior catcher Katie Whetstine's two-run homer against Aloha on May 7 started a flurry of runs that helped the Wildcats roll to a 9-1 win.

Vengeance — and more significantly sole possession of first place in Metro — is Westview’s.

In the wake of losing a 3-2 contest to Aloha two weeks ago, the Wildcats waxed the Warriors with a dominating 9-1 win on May 7 that put Westview atop the Metro standings. Thanks to the brawny bat of Katie Whetstine, the ring-up ability of Abby Greer and the clutch hitting of Christy Garrett and Kylie Alto, among others, the pining Wildcats whaled on Aloha from the third inning on for their sixth-straight triumph.

“We came in with a chip on our shoulder,” said Garrett. “I think that’s why our bats starting going because we were mad about losing last time, and we wanted to get the win. We wanted some revenge.”

When Westview lost to Aloha in April, the Wildcats had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh, but couldn’t bring the tying run across. The rematch, however, was no contest. Westview combined for 11 hits — five of which for extra bags — and Greer was governing with 14 punchouts while allocating just four base hits.

“It was a close game last time, but that really pushed us to get the win today,” said Whetstine. “We didn’t want to make it close again. We wanted to for sure get the win.”

“Today was a hitting competition,” said Aloha shortstop Michelle Silva. “We know they’re good hitters, so we had to hit just as good as they did in order to win. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but we have the rest of Metro season to go. I think we’re going to take it back to the rest of the teams and pick ourselves back up.”

Pulled the pin

After going scoreless the first two and a third innings, Whetstine pulled the pin from Westview’s grenade in the third stanza and subsequently started the Wildcats’ tidal wave of runs.

With two outs and Garrett standing on third after leading off the inning with a walk, the junior catcher caned an inside pitch from the right arm of Aloha’s Courtney Coombs off the Pepsi sign hanging off the scoreboard in left to give Westview a 2-0 lead.

“Honestly, I just wanted to have good at-bats and be proud of my at-bats this game,” said Whetstine, who went 3-4 with four RBIs on the day. “And, I definitely was today.”

“Katie made us believe we could,” said Garrett. “She really got us started with that home run because we were struggling early on. Once we got our bats going, we played really well. We practice hitting all the time in practice, and I think everyone’s just getting more confidence.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview second baseman Kylie Alto tries to come up with a groundball in the fourth inning of the Wildcats win over Aloha on May 7.

Coombs controlled Westview’s lineup in the first meeting with an outside-to-inside style of pitching that had the Wildcats guessing instead of reacting at the plate. Yet, once Westview stopped predicting, Whetstine said, the hits started to heat up.

“After I hit (the home run), everyone else started to believe they could hit it too,” said Whetstine. “The more we practice hitting, the more confidence we get knowing we can hit fast, slow, outside, inside pitches. It doesn’t matter what pitch it is. Knowing we can hit well is big for us.”

Lethal hitters

In the fifth inning, Garrett singled to left, then Alto axed a double after showing bunt that scored Garrett from first. Whetstine whacked an RBI double down the third baseline to plate Alto and extend Westview’s lead to 5-0. Wildcat third baseman Makenah Robarts’ double scored Whetstine, and Jordin Loman’s RBI groundout punctuated a four-run fifth to give Greer a 6-0 advantage. Whetstine tacked on her third extra base hit in the sixth with another RBI double after an Alto RBI.

“They got the hits when they needed it, and that was the difference,” said Aloha first baseman Katie Buchannan. “Both pitchers pitched well, but Westview rallied, and we didn’t hit.”

Greer quieted a Warrior lineup that’s loaded with lethal hitters like Buchannan and Silva, striking out at least two batters in six of the seven stanzas. The right-handed sophomore hit her spots with regularity, mixing speeds and locations against the regularly dangerous Aloha batting order.

“There’s not a lot of competitive pitching throughout Metro, so when we face (Greer), it’s a whole different game,” said Buchannan. “We have to track pitches and be selective with her.”

It took Aloha until the seventh to get anything going against Greer. Lexi Wahlstrom singled to start the stanza, and McKenzie Sibert brought her sophomore teammate around with a single. However, Greer fanned the next three Warrior hitters in fast fashion to close out the victory.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior pitcher Courtney Coombs throws out Westviews Christy Garrett for an out in the fifth inning of the Warriors defeat.

Silva said Aloha’s hitting is “a chain reaction.” If two or three Warriors are hitting well, the rest of the team tends to fall in line. Third baseman Shelby Radcliffe notched two base knocks versus Greer, but the Warriors only had six total hits as a squad.

“It’s always on or off with our team, and today our bats just weren’t on,” said Silva. “We need lots of patience on our team. I know the girls on my team are good hitters, it’s just about being patient and hitting those line drives. We win as a team, we lose as a team.”

‘Playing with heart’

At 8-3 in league play with a full two-game lead over Aloha and a one-game bump on Jesuit, Westview is sitting in the Metro’s catbird seat with just two games remaining. Yet, with the amount of zaniness going this spring, and the league’s top teams giving up winnable games, Westview wants to control its own destiny and dart across the finish line on a roll.

“We don’t underestimate our opponents,” said Whetstine. “We don’t come in thinking we’re going to win automatically. We know we have to work. Anyone in Metro can win at any point depending on the day.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha second baseman Katie Powers fires a ball to first for an out in the fifth inning against Westview.

“I think our bats, if we keep hitting the ball, will get us those last couple wins,” added Garrett.

Aloha is not out of the hunt by any means, and with a foursome of winnable games in the next week or so, the Warriors said they’re not over and done with.

“It’s all about playing with heart,” said Silva. “It’s not thinking about winning, but thinking about doing your best for the team and not yourself. If you want to play for your team, and everyone else plays with that mentality, then we can win games.

“Metro’s pretty crazy this year because it’s anybody’s game,” continued Silva. “It depends on who’s on and who’s not. There’s lots of good fielders on every team. There’s lots of good hitters on every team. It’s all up to who comes the most ready every day.”