1A State Softball: Castle Rock eliminated by loss to Mt. Baker | Sports

The Castle Rock softball team’s 1A State Tournament race ended at the hands of Mt. Baker on Saturday. The Rockets led 4-1 early on, but watched him slip away in the late innings, eventually dropping 8-5 to conclude their season.

The Rockets showed no signs of fatigue early on after playing a full three-game slate on Friday including a 10-run marathon in the loss to top seed Eatonville.

“It was difficult yesterday to do what we had to do and come back and win and play again,” Castle Rock coach Ron Strode said. “I felt like they played really well, (Mount Baker) just hit a few hits and got to the top.”

The Rockets traded for the Mountaineers in the first inning, but jumped into third place with three points on the board featuring RBI doubles from Rhiannon Sibbett and Payton Kessler followed by Payton Ricketts’ singles.

Mount Baker responded with a shot from Grace Zenderi in the lower half of the third game to cut the Rockets’ lead to 4-3. The swing of power wasn’t the last for the Mountaineers as Ashlynn Cloninger tied the match with a solo shot in the fifth before Kaitlyn Rosenburg pounded another over the wall in the left to give a two-time zinger to give Mt. Baker Progress 6-4 .

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Healy Vastradowski drew Grace Sebbett, who tripled to lead sixth to regain one, but the Mountaineers added another pair of locking runs in the sixth inning to advance 8-5 before crushing the Rockets in the last frame.

Kessler threw the full game for the Rockets, surrendering 8 runs on 11 runs with a six-stroke and two runs in the final game of ace Castle Rock’s career wearing Rocket red.

Rhiannon Sibbett finished 4 for 4 with RBI and completed the first three stages of the course with two singles, twos and threes in the game to lead the Rockets at the plate.

The Rockets’ eyes were on the grand prize entering the state championship, but after two years of blight seasons and a third filled with some of the worst weather that softball can conjure, the Rockets are looking at this year as a complete success.

“It was just a great emotional season to be honest,” Stroud said. “These seniors are the first group I’ve had at Castle Rock in four years and (it’s) (cool) to have their work ethic.”

Kessler and Jenna Lee were two Rockets fan. The duo of the bowler seemed to impress their captain with every performance. Kessler was voted the 1A TriCo League’s first player and Lee was named the league’s best player.

Both will be missed as they head to the next level, with Kessler heading to Ellensburg to play at Central Washington University and Lee heading north to Centralia Community College.

They both reflected on their time playing at Castle Rock and both agreed that the team’s close bond was a major key to their successes.

“This group of seniors, seven of us, have played together since 10U, for a very long time,” Kessler said. “Now that it’s over, you look back and think ‘I’ve been playing with them forever, I’ll never play with them again,’ but that’s definitely what we got here, just that bond.”

They hope to have left a lasting mark on a program that used to succeed on earth diamonds.

“I think what we’ve accomplished is huge,” he told me. “We are from a small town, we are not a huge school, there are not many children in the school and we have been lucky with the group of girls who have played together for a really long time. I hope a lot of them will continue to play and they will continue to make our program really good because we always have a solid programme.”

Kessler hopes the lower tier men will learn a thing or two from watching this team play together as team members.

“I just hope they understand that our ability to work together is the way we got here and to just work as a team, you get a lot,” Kessler said. “I hope they can take that and continue to use it for the next couple of years.”

Stroud also hopes that younger players will closely follow the trials and tribulations that have come this far in the state championship.

“I think the younger players are really going to take away from them that’s what it takes to get here,” Stroud said. “The seniors have really liked them all year long you have to pay well, you have to play hard, you have to play in every role and you have to play in every half.”

Lee and Kessler aren’t the only Rockets to advance to next-level play as Rachel Squibb plans to stay close to home and attend the LCC while Rhiannon Sebet heads cross-country to Palm Springs, Florida for college ball.

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