Fastpitch: Wolves end long losing streak against Central Kitsap

Ignore the timeline.

South Kitsap fastpitch coach Kathy Ballew already has declared Friday’s game against Stadium as one that could determine the Class 4A Narrows League champion — even with three weeks left in the regular season.

Both teams enter the contest with undefeated league records after the Wolves earned a come-from-behind 11-6 win Wednesday at Central Kitsap.

It marked the first time that South won at Linder Field since a 7-0 victory on May 9, 2005. The Wolves (5-1 overall, 4-0 league) lost eight consecutive meetings against the Cougars.

“It feels good to win finally,” South senior center fielder Meagan Ransier said.

CK (1-5, 1-3) seemed in danger of losing its dominance in the rivalry early. South used a pair of walks and hits to score three times in the first inning, but its lead was short lived.

After lead-off hitter Kari Fetters was thrown out on a bunt attempt, eight consecutive Cougars reached base before South sophomore Ashley Chamberlin was replaced by senior Emilly Cunningham on the mound. Cunningham surrendered a single to Fetters, but retired the final two batters to get out of the first with a 6-3 deficit.

That is when the Wolves responded.

With two outs in the second inning, sophomore shortstop Alissa Buss doubled to right-center field and Chamberlin followed with an RBI single. After an intentional walk to Cunningham, junior right fielder Erika Henderson hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to pitcher Caylee Coulter. But the latter hesitated and then hit Henderson with her throw down the first-base line, which allowed Chamberlin and Cunningham to score and tie the game.

“We both have good-hitting teams,” Ballew said. “We dug down and said, ‘It’s a close game, it’s not going to bother us.’ ”

South then displayed its plate discipline as four of its first five batters in the third inning reached via walks. Ransier took the final one with the bases loaded and then watched as Buss and Chamberlin followed with RBI singles to extend the Wolves’ lead to 9-6.

Ransier, who produced a .739 on-base percentage last year, showed added power in the fifth inning when she hit a 2-2 pitch several feet beyond the fence in center field that also scored left fielder Julie MacMillan. It was her first home run of the season.

“It felt pretty good seeing as I was in a little bit of a rut,” said Ransier, who finished 1 for 4 with three RBI. “I didn’t think I hit it that hard.”

In the bottom half of that inning, she also made a running catch along the fence that took away a potential extra-base hit from Coulter.

“We have a really strong outfield this year,” said Ransier, adding that she benefited from catching Cunningham two years ago. “Every single person we put in the outfield can make those kind of catches.”

Ransier nearly added another home run in the sixth inning with two outs, but center fielder Cynthia Proby caught it with her back against the fence.

“If I would have followed through and not hit it on the barrel, that would have felt so good,” Ransier said.

It was more than enough offense for Cunningham, though. She pitched six scoreless innings, but Ballew acknowledged she was trying to rest Cunningham for Friday’s first-place showdown against the Tigers.

“No concerns,” she said. “She’s strong and used to it.”

South Kitsap 11, at Central Kitsap 6
South Kitsap   333      020      0          —         11        7          2
Central Kitsap 600      000      0          —         6          12        3
Ashley Chamberlin, Emilly Cunningham (1) and Ericka Hobson. Caylee Coulter, Jenna Bartlett (3), Coulter (3) and Kari Fetters.
W—Cunningham. L —Coulter.
Leading hitters—Meagan Ransier (SK) 1-4 HR 2 RBI; Chamberlin (SK) 2-3; Tristine Vandeman (CK) 2-4; Fetters (CK) 2-5.

South Kitsap 4, at Yelm 3
South Kitsap   220      000      0          —         4          6          3
Yelm               102      000      0          —         3          3          3
Erika Henderson, Emilly Cunningham (4) and Emily Elam, Ericka Hobson (3). Yelm battery unavailable.
Leading hitters—Julie MacMillan (SK) 1-1 HR 2 RBI; Cunningham (SK) 2-4 2 RBI.

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