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5 WIAA softball state-tournament storylines to follow: Who will spoil Jackson's 3-peat bid in Class 4A?

Also, can Adna wins back-to-back Class 2B titles - and third state championship since 2015?

For the first time since 2019, the WIAA will hold Washington state high school softball championships throughout the state - with Class 4A in Spokane, Class 3A in Lacey, Class 2A in Selah, Class 1A in Richland and Class 2B/1B in Yakima.

Who will take their best swing at the title-winning hardware?

Here are five storylines that SBLive WA will be monitoring this weekend in state-tournament softball:


Jackson vs. Yelm at 2022 Auburn Riverside Fastpitch Invitational

Guided by coach Kyle Peacocke, top-ranked Jackson could become the first school ever to win three consecutive Class 4A softball titles.

In the previous four Class 4A tournaments, seven of the eight state finalists have come from one district - District 1/2 (Wesco/KingCo).

Only one time during that span - Jackson vs. Monroe in 2018 - did both district finalists have a rematch in the state championship game a week later.

That doesn't necessarily mean that reigning District 1/2 champion Skyline, led by 4A KingCo pitcher of the year Ryan Grace, and runner-up Mount Si cannot make another deep run to play in the final game.

But what it does show is these two leagues unquestionably form the deepest talent-rich district in the state, led by two-time defending Class 4A champion Jackson, out of Mill Creek.

"Most of the teams between KingCo and Wesco, they have hitters 1-9 (in the lineup) who can do damage, and also have great pitching and play good defense," Jackson coach Kyle Peacocke said.

"I said from the beginning of the year, we’d be happy to get to state getting through that gauntlet of teams."

The last time a team from either the Wesco or KingCo didn't play for the 4A title was 2015 when Tahoma defeated Richland for the championship.


Walla Walla softball in spring of 2022

Top-ranked Walla Walla won the Class 4A/3A Mid-Columbia Conference with a 19-2 record, and has 2-time league MVP Tallulah Sickels in tow.

The short answer is ... no.

But, there is a clear top tier of Class 3A contenders - No. 1 Walla Walla, No. 2 Lake Washington, No. 3 Peninsula and No. 4 Bonney Lake.

All four schools have front-line pitchers capable of shutting down a lineup, and at least a couple of impact hitters who can change the game with one swing.

Of the top four, the Blue Devils - on paper - are the tournament's most complete team.

They have two-time Mid-Columbia Conference player of the year Tallulah Sickels in the circle. She's also a big bat in the lineup.

And coach Arch McHie said his lineup, from top to bottom, is the best he's ever had, and that includes the Class 4A championship squad from 2011.

"It's not going to be an easy road," McHie said. "When Tallulah has not been on, we've had to try and outhit people"


Camryn McDonald, Othello softball, class of 2023

A clutch hitter of the caliber of junior shortstop Camryn McDonald might be enough to swing the title-winning pendulum in favor of No. 1 Othello.

Outside the Class 4A field, the deepest field of state-contending squads might be in Class 2A.

But the tournament bracket got an unexpected jolt when highly-regarded Tumwater, one of the co-favorites and District 4 runner-up, was bumped down to the 6-seed behind No. 3 seed Lynden (Dist. 1) and No. 5 Fife (Dist. 3), both district champions.

And Ridgefield, the undefeated 2A GSHL champion with just one district loss to W.F. West to its name, was appointed the 9-seed for the tournament.

Needless to say, the crazy tournament seeding has some teams ... perplexed, to say the least. And yet, if the "favorites" all win their first two games, the state semifinal bracket Saturday will look much like what most pundits initially figured - W.F. West-Tumwater on the top half, and Othello-Shadle Park on the bottom half.

That battle-tested Southwest Washington District has crowned the past three 2A champions - Woodland in 2018 and 2019, and W.F. West in 2017.

"Anyone headed out of ... the Southwest Washington District has had the chance to see great pitching all season," W.F. West coach Caty Lieseke said. "We've played multiple tight games and have put ourselves in high-pressure situations that you don't often see until playoff time."


Eatonville's Brooke Blocker, left and Hailey Rath lead big bats in softball.

Of the 53 home runs No. 1 Eatonville hit this spring, 20 belong to slugger Hailey Rath, right.

This is one of the more fascinating plots in any tournament as Eatonville started as SBLive WA's early-season No. 1 team and continued being on that top perch the entire way.

Also, the Cruisers ended the season as the WIAA's No. 1 RPI team - and was subsequently awarded the top overall seed in the bracket.

Isn't that a lofty tag for a school which has never even placed at the state tournament?

There is one primary reason why the Cruisers are so highly thought of - their big bats.

As a team, they smashed 53 home runs this season - well past the previous school-record total of 43, set last spring.

They batted .384 as a team, slugged .691 and scored 267 runs in 23 games.

And they have a group of seniors - center fielder Hailey Rath, third baseman Dakota Smith, pitcher/utility Berkeley Porter and shortstop Mary Chabot - as well as junior catcher Brooke Blocker who have been stalwarts.

"(The seniors) went to state their freshman year, so I feel like they are ready for this," Eatonville coach Jen Smith said.


Karlee VonMoos, Adna softball, class of 2023

2B Central player of the year Karlee VonMoos gives Adna a hard-throwing threat in the circle - and a home-run threat at the plate.

In five of Adna's past six Class 2B tournament appearances, the Pirates have gone to at least the final four. They've reached the state title game three times, winning it all in 2015 and 2019.

And by way of their 14-13 victory over former No. 1 Pe Ell/Willapa Valley, the Pirates were awarded the top overall seed in the state bracket.

What does that gain them?

Well, given the favorite that fellow co-favorites Warden and PWV are on the other side of the bracket, Adna has the clearest road to the title game.

That is all fine and dandy, but the biggest thing Adna coach Bruce Pocklington said came out of last weekend's district title game was, "we needed a high-intensity game - and we got one."

Adna hit 12 home runs in its three district games.

"District 4 has been pretty tough at state," Pocklington said.