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After back-to-back no-hitters, Alli Kimball leads Peninsula to Class 3A bi-district title over 2018 state champion Bonney Lake

The Seahawks' junior ace pitcher buzzes through Jefferson and Prairie before controlling the Panthers in the West Central/Southwest District finals in Lacey
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LACEY- Peninsula High School was the top overall seed in this weekend’s Class 3A District 3/4 softball tournament at the Regional Athletic Complex - while Bonney Lake was the third seed.

But Seahawks coach Mike Paul knew the Panthers were regulars in the postseason, winning multiple games in the past three state tournaments, including a championship in 2018. Meanwhile, Peninsula hadn’t reached state in nine years.

Paul didn’t get worried when his team led by three runs but watched Bonney Lake bring the tying run to the plate with two outs in the top of the seventh. He already was stressed.

"I got nervous before the first pitch," he said.

Fortunately, the Seahawks have Alli Kimball in the circle, who led the 3A SSC champions to a 5-2 victory Saturday in the district finals. Her weekend had been all but perfect.

She no-hit Thomas Jefferson and Prairie to drive Peninsula to the championship game.

Once there, she allowed a third-seeded Bonney Lake team to hit only two balls out of the infield during her five-plus innings of work on a day she would finish with 13 strikeouts.

But, neither Kimball nor Paul thought the Panthers would go down without a fight.

"We both came in knowing we were going to put up a great game," Paul said. "I told them it would come down to one run at the end of the game. That team there is going to go far at state."

Sure enough, with Peninsula up 5-0 in that sixth inning, Panthers’ No. 9 hitter Ayrianna Pollard bombed a home run over the centerfield fence, and leadoff hitter Lauryn Lee followed with another solo shot over the right field section of the orange plastic temporary fencing.

"I came into this game knowing they were a team that would hit and put the ball in play," Kimball said. "I was not surprised one bit that they were able to time it up."

A mound visit by Paul helped Kimball refocus and get out of the inning.

Bonney Lake (18-3) got back-to-back singles by Bella Jones and Alissa Hermansen with two outs in the seventh inning to bring the tying run to the plate.

But Jadyn Johnson popped up for the final out, and the Seahawks were headed to next week’s 3A state tournament – also at the RAC – carrying the biggest district trophy.

"I could feel myself losing a little bit of my speed," Kimball said."I told myself that I had to push through for my team. I was nervous, but I knew if I could keep within my own bubble and throw strikes, my defense would be there for me, which they were the whole game."

"Alli was gutty," Paul said. "She came in here tired at the end of a long day. The team had her back and she did it for us."