Nelson's late-game heroics lift Bearcats to district title

May 18—Box Score

At Recreation Park


Aberdeen 010 000 0 — 1

W.F. West 001 001 X — 2

WFW Pitching — Tay. Tobin 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K; Dalrymple 4 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Highlights — Nelson 2-2, HR, RBI, R; Myers 2-3, RBI

Aubree Nelson was pinch-hit for in both of W.F. West's games on Thursday.

She didn't let that deter her on Friday, when she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning of a tied district championship game against Aberdeen.

"I knew what I had to do," Nelson said. "I saw it coming, and I just swung and hit the crap out of it."

She did just that, sending a go-ahead solo home run deep over the center field fence to give the Bearcats the lead. That home run went on to stand as the district-title sealing dinger, as W.F. West held on to top Aberdeen 2-1.

"She understood the situation," W.F. West coach Kevin Zylstra said. "She just wanted her time to shine. She's worked so hard this year, and she's done such a good job with our pitchers. To see her get her moment to shine and just jump all over it was so good."

Zylstra, Nelson, and the rest of the Bearcats exploded with happiness as Nelson's homer sailed over the fence. Nelson sprinted around the base paths so quickly that her teammates seemed to barely beat her to the plate from the dugout.

"I think she qualified for the Olympics," Zylstra said with a laugh.

As she made her way back into the dugout, Nelson shared hugs with her teammates and assistant coaches, and she couldn't hold back tears of joy.

"It was the best moment of my season," Nelson said.

W.F. West's best moment came at the end of the top of the seventh, when the Bearcats (19-5) poured onto their home field at Recreation Park to celebrate their 12th district title since 2009.

"We wanted to get back to Field 1," Zylstra said. "This is where we live and thrive, and we've thrived all year long on this field. It's so special to earn our way back here and then beat a quality team like Aberdeen who we just respect so much."

As the final score indicates, it was a pitchers duel on Friday. Aberdeen's Lilly Camp allowed just two runs, Nelson's home run and an Avalon Myers RBI single in the third.

Taylor Tobin (three innings) and Monroe Dalrymple (four innings) combined to allow just one Aberdeen run, which scored on a wild pitch in the top of the second.

The Bearcats were solid defensively behind them, committing just one error. Taylor Tobin made a running grab near the fence in foul ground in the top of the seventh, and two innings earlier, Tanner Tobin saved a run with a diving stop at third base.

"Everything we did, people were contributing," Zylstra said. "As a coach, that's all you can ask for."

"We did amazing," Nelson said. "(Assistant) Coach (Jon) Meyer always says that we haven't played our best game, but I think this was our best game yet."

With the district title in hand, the Bearcats will now return to Selah after missing the state tournament last spring. They've still had their fair share of success on the east side in recent years, as they took third place two years ago and were the state runner-ups in 2019.

"This was so sweet," Zylstra said. "Now it's time to go on and see what lies next for us."

W.F. West, along with Aberdeen, Rochester, and Tumwater, will find out its seed and first-round matchup at the state tournament on Sunday. The tournament will begin on Friday in Selah.