A blistering single up the middle lit the fuse for a bombastic celebration.
As if the Juanita players weren’t loud enough while cheering in the dugout, their jubilant screams pierced the night sky several levels higher after Megan Murray did her job. Her two-out hit drove in Lauren Moreau from second in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Rebels a 5-4 win over West Seattle and a return trip to state.
Following the walkoff blast, the Rebels mobbed Murray near the first-base line on Thursday at the Southwest Athletic Complex in West Seattle. Juanita upped its record to 14-8 overall this season following the 3A SeaKing District loser-out contest.
Murray was elated after the game.
“Lexi (Blackburn) took me down, I ended up on the ground, but it was fun,” she said with a laugh.
On making the most of her critical at-bat: “Well, actually a few games ago, the same thing happened, but it didn’t really go my way last time. So this time, I was like, I just need to relax, do my thing.”
West Seattle surged to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, but Juanita got one run back in the bottom half of the second and then pounded out three runs in the bottom of the third to take a 4-2 lead. West Seattle tied the game with two runs in the fifth.
In the second, Juanita scored on back-to-back doubles from Murray and Eden Radke. In the third, Jordan Schroeder knocked a two-run triple and Briar Swayne kept the triple theme going with one of her own to drive in a run.
Among Juanita’s 12 hits, Swayne had three and Moreau and Murray had two apiece.
“I think we went in really confident and I think that we always knew we were gonna win, so we had a really positive mindset the whole time and that kind of showed,” Blackburn said. “I think that we just fought hard ‘til the end and it worked out.”
“Worked out it did! Yeah!” yelled a teammate in the background.
Mackenzie Burke earned the win and notched crucial strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings to put West Seattle to rest. She fanned a batter for the third out with runners on first and second in the fourth, and K’d two straight batters for the second and third outs with the bases loaded in the fifth.
Murray and Swayne said the Rebels stayed focused and kept their energy flowing.
“When it was close, I was super nervous,” catcher Swayne said with a laugh.
She praised Burke for working hard to hit her spots and also gave a nod to the Rebel girls with the gloves in the infield and outfield.
“I think that it’s very important to have a good defense. Our defense is really good at making routine plays, and even phenomenal plays, even in the outfield too,” Swayne said.
And now it’s on to state, and Murray — standing with fellow seniors Blackburn and Swayne after the game — is looking forward to the action on May 25-26 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
“State is so much fun, especially since (it’s) our senior year. We wanted to go so bad this year, and I know we’re super excited and I think we’re gonna do well this year,” Murray said.
* Juanita coach Traci Odegard was named the 3A KingCo coach of the year.