Celebration time: Redmond High fastpitch wins 4A Kingco championship

Redmond High
Redmond High's Kaija Gibson, her teammates and Mustang fans celebrate her home run in the third inning during Thursday's 4A Kingco fastpitch championship game against Woodinville High. Redmond won, 7-4, and is headed to the state tournament.
— image credit: Courtesy of Dale Garvey

While talking about Redmond High's epic fastpitch game the following morning, coach Parris Mamon seemed exhausted.

It was a thrilling matchup between the Mustangs and Woodinville High on Thursday night for the 4A Kingco championship at Inglemoor High.

When the dust cleared on the basepaths, Redmond was the 7-4 victor and will head to the state tournament next weekend at the Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane.

"To me, it's just a blur. We were so back and forth," Mamon said of the game. "We knew the intensity would be up with Woodinville's fans and kids."

Redmond's players and supporters were in top form, as well — simply put, both teams were pumped up for the game, Mamon said.

Mustang highlights included Kaija Gibson's crushing solo home run over the right field fence, Emily Rockhill's three-run double, Amirah Milloy's 3-for-4 hitting clip and solid defense from Elaine Wang at third base, Tatyana Forbes in center field and Daiana Kaplan at second base. Rockhill also snagged the pitching victory and catcher Sawyer Forseth called all the pitches.

Redmond led 2-0 after three innings, Woodinville tied the game with a two-run homer in the top of the sixth and the Mustangs exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Prior to Rockhill's big double, Woodinville intentionally walked Gibson for the third time to load the bases.

"I hadn't been hitting well, but it was at that moment that I knew I could do it," Rockhill said of her clutch double. "I got up, and it was the first pitch, and I went for it. It was an inside pitch and I thought it was going to be foul."

When the ball stayed in bounds and after the three Mustangs touched home plate, Rockhill stood tall at second base.

"It couldn't have been a better moment," she said.

As for Gibson, she practiced hitting the change-up the day before the game because she knew that's what the Woodinville pitcher would be throwing. In earlier games against the Falcons, Gibson hadn't connected on the change-up, but she did in a big way on Thursday.

"I was just ready to hit it. I was looking for that pitch — it felt good," Gibson said of her home run.

In a conversation with the Reporter on Friday, Milloy said her voice was hoarse from tons of yelling during the title game, but she forged on to discuss the win.

"It was very exciting for my teammates. We really wanted this," said Milloy, noting that Redmond and Woodinville were 1-1 during the regular season with the Falcons winning the last meeting prior to the championship. "This was a revenge game for us, and they wanted it, too."

Added Gibson: "It was crazy. I've never seen something like this at that much of a high level. I've never been so proud of the girls. We did it together."

Pitcher Rockhill and catcher Forseth also teamed up to keep Redmond on target for its victory. Rockhill's low pitches were successful and she hit the corners of the plate during her seven-inning outing.

When Rockhill needed a boost during her tough journey in the pitcher's circle, Forseth called time out and encouraged her hurler to carry on. Rockhill added that the Mustangs with the gloves behind her were vital in notching the victory.

Redmond is 18-3 overall and won the Kingco Crest Division with a 12-2 record.

Milloy said the Mustangs have grown into a solid team and have enjoyed each other's company while winning copious games this season. The coaches have pushed the players to succeed and understand their limits, as well.

"Everybody brings something special to the table," she said. "We have good chemistry, but it's not just about winning — we like to have fun."

Earlier in the tournament, Redmond defeated Ballard, 8-0, and Skyline, 6-1.

"It's consistency," Mamon said of the Mustangs' keys to success. "We're hitting the ball well. Very good defensive play all around. Everyone's believing in what we've taught them and they're going out and executing the plan," which includes moving runners on the bases with timely hitting and stealing bases.

If the Mustangs keep that going, Milloy feels they can be "lethal at state."

Redmond's last state appearance was in 2009 when the Mustangs lost in the semifinals (they also defeated Woodinville for the Kingco title that year). In 2008, Redmond finished third at state.

Mamon was the assistant fastpitch coach at Kentridge back in 2002 when the Chargers won the 4A state championship, beating Shorecrest 2-1 in the finals.

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