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Originally published May 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 26, 2007 at 6:13 PM

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4A Fastpitch | Woodinville not waiting for next year

The cupboards were bare, the talent depleted. This was supposed to be an off year for the Woodinville High School fastpitch factory, which...

Seattle Times staff reporter

TACOMA -- The cupboards were bare, the talent depleted.

This was supposed to be an off year for the Woodinville High School fastpitch factory, which lost 10 talented seniors from the team that placed third at the 2006 Class 4A state tournament.

But someone forgot to tell the Falcons. And for the second time in three years, they are in the semifinals. Woodinville (22-3), which won the 2005 title to cap a perfect season, plays Shadle Park of Spokane (26-1) today at 11 a.m. at the South End Recreation Area in Tacoma. The Falcons opened with a 6-0 victory over Graham-Kapowsin, then came from behind to beat Lake Stevens 4-1.

"This is just gravy," Woodinville coach Jim Weir said. "We were never expected to do this. Everyone thought we'd be down this year."

Junior catcher Lauren Hamilton is the lone fulltime starter who returned this season.

"We know we're considered the underdogs," she said after driving in two runs against the Vikings. "I don't think anyone else expected anything like this, but we knew we could do it. Our attitude is that someone has to win it [state], so why shouldn't it be us?"

Woodinville wasn't the only surprise winner Friday. While many people had Kentlake and Monroe penciled in to reach the semis in the other half of the bracket, both lost in the quarterfinals. Kentlake improved to 24-0 with a 4-1 first-round victory over Walla Walla, then fell 1-0 to Mountain View of Vancouver (12-8), a team that finished fourth in the Greater St. Helens League.

Monroe opened with a 5-0 victory over Inglemoor of Kenmore to improve to 23-1, then lost a heartbreaker to Stadium of Tacoma, 3-2. Stadium (21-3), which didn't even win its division in the Narrows League, plays Mountain View at 11 a.m. The title game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Woodinville will have its hands full with Shadle Park and junior ace Sam Skillingstad. The Highlanders lost last year's championship game to Prairie of suburban Vancouver and graduated only one starter.

Kentlake's title run ended when the Falcons failed to hit with runners in scoring in position. Three times hitters took called third strikes in those situations. Pitcher Felecia Harris had a chance to tie or win it in the bottom of the seventh, but went down swinging.

Harris made amends with a game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th to lift the Falcons to a 3-2 victory over Emerald Ridge of Puyallup in a loser-out game that ended just before midnight.

"One of our goals this year was to make it to the second day of state and now we're going to play our hearts out to get third place," Harris said.

Monroe threatened to pull even with Stadium in the bottom of the seventh. With two out, Shannon Fretz drilled a triple into the left-field corner, but was thrown out trying to score. The Bearcats (23-3) then lost to Graham-Kapowsin 2-0, ending their season.

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