OTHELLO — Ephrata’s players and coaches gathered near the visitor’s dugout after the fourth inning and repeated the season-long mantra: “We are not taking our foot off the gas.”
They certainly did not.
Ephrata pressured Othello the entirety of the afternoon and won its district tournament opener 8-0.
“We’ve been building our kids up all year,” head coach Heather Wood said. “We’ve been telling them they’ve got the skill, they’ve just got to have the mental toughness and they really developed a lot of mental toughness this year from when we played Othello the first time until now.
“It’s huge. You can see it. They definitely brought it today.”
Othello starter Audisey Sauceda was able to work her way out of a bases-loaded jam with a pair of strikeouts in the first inning, but the Ephrata bats proved to be relentless.
Crystal Vela scored Paige Davis on a fielder’s choice in the second inning followed by an RBI single by Brittany Driesen in the third.
The clutch hits that sparked Ephrata never translated to Othello’s lineup. Sauceda faced opposing starter Rylee Peters with runners on second and third base with two outs in the third inning, but a shallow pop up ended the threat.
The Tigers did it with small ball early, and long ball late.
Jocelyn Eisen smacked a two-run homer over the right-center fence to double the Tigers’ advantage in the fourth inning.
“It takes a lot of heart to beat someone that you want to beat,” she said. “At the beginning of the year, I think we have grown so much as a team and it’s taken a lot of us to become a family and that’s all you need to be successful — you need to be a family.”
Eisen showed off that familial bond when starter Rylee Peters went down between the third and fourth innings with an apparent right leg injury. Eisen was thrust into relief duty, proceeding to pitch four scoreless innings.
The Tigers continued to extend their lead against the Huskies’ relievers.
In the sixth inning, Kylar Heston golfed an RBI double into left field. Davis followed with an RBI single that dropped into shallow center field.
Eisen capped her big day with an RBI single in the seventh inning. Sienna Stocking, running in Eisen’s place, stole second base before making her way to home plate after two errors.
“These girls have been putting in the time and we’ve told them — you guys are the team to beat,” Wood said.
Score by innings
E — 0 1 1 2 0 2 2 8
O — 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Highlights: Eisen 2-run HR, 4 IP; Paige Wood 3B; Heston RBI 2B
Next: vs. Ellensburg, May 17, 1 p.m., at Carlon Park