Fastpitch: Wolves ride momentum into districts

TACOMA — South Kitsap could not have crafted a much better scenario in the Class 4A Narrows League Tournament for a third consecutive year.
After a 5-4 win Friday afternoon against Olympia, the Wolves now hope they can capitalize on that momentum when they enter the 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament and advance to state for the first time since 2003.
While South (10-11) did not capture the 4A Narrows League Tournament title for a third consecutive year, it did win two out of three games. Defeating Gig Harbor 9-7 on Thursday — the Wolves also later lost 9-8 against Bellarmine Prep — allowed them to avoid elimination.
Perhaps just as important was beating the Bears (14-8), who finished second in 4A Narrows. That propelled South into the Narrows’ No. 3 seed, which means the Wolves play the South Puget Sound League’s fifth-place team, Kentlake, in the first round of districts at Tacoma’s Sprinker Recreation Center. A loss would have pitted South against the Greater Saint Helens’ top seed.
“That would have been Skyview and they’ve been shutting people out,” South coach Tami Lester-Dame said.
The Wolves never trailed against Olympia, but their advantage never seemed secure. They scored in the first inning when third baseman Sam Gorham tripled and later crossed home plate when first baseman Hannah Spohn hit a two-out single off starter Amanda Rupright. But the Bears responded in the bottom half of the inning when center fielder Marie Beagle hit a two-out single off starter Ashley Chamberlin to score Nikki Schroeder.
South broke the tie in the fourth inning. Center fielder Taylor Sunkel hit a one-out single that scored Spohn. Sunkel later gave the Wolves a 3-1 lead when catcher Ericka Hobson put down a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed by Rupright.
Gorham, who went 2 for 3 with a pair of triples, helped South take a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning when she drew a lead-off walk. She scored on the ensuing at-bat when shortstop Ashley Gidican beat a throw from third base.
“Sam has been very confident,” said Lester-Dame, noting that Gorham has been on junior varsity for nearly the entire season. “That has impressed me.”
The Bears matched that during the bottom half of the inning, though. With two outs, left fielder Lexi Sanderlin singled and scored during the ensuing at-bat when third baseman Gabby Braniff tripled.
South then extended its advantage to 5-2 when Chamberlin led off the sixth inning with a triple and later scored on a two-out single by second baseman Erika Henderson.
But it almost was not enough for the Wolves, who won 2 of 3 against Olympia this year. Right fielder Sam Kabat and Rupright hit consecutive one-out RBI singles to cut South’s lead to 5-4. But second baseman Ilana Mishkin attempted to sacrifice bunt and was thrown out at first base. Kabat, who was on third base, broke for home at the same time but was thrown out by Spohn to end the inning.
Getting the final three outs for Chamberlin was not much easier. Braniff hit a fly ball down the third-base line that looked to be the second out. But Gidican appeared to lose the ball in the sun and it dropped for a double. Schroeder then singled to right, but Kayla Clauson perfectly placed her throw into Hobson’s glove at home plate to tag out Braniff. Monica McCoy then grounded out to end the game.
South now has one of its longest stretches without a game this season. But after watching her team produce 12 hits against Bellarmine’s Courtney Schwann, a pitcher Lester-Dame said throws as hard as anyone the Wolves have faced this year, she feels her team will respond.
“If they can hit like that off her, they can hit anyone,” she said. “These girls have shown they can step up.”
South Kitsap 5, Olympia 4
South Kitsap       100         211         0              —            5              9              0
Olympia               100         012         0              —            4              13           0
Ashley Chamberlin and Ericka Hobson. Amanda Rupright and Adrianna Rupright.
W—Chamberlin. W—Rupright.
Leading hitters—Sam Gorham (SK) 2-4 2 3B run, Hannah Spohn (SK) 3-4 2B
RBI run, Marie Beagle (O) 3-3 2B RBI run, Braniff (O) 2-3 2B 3B BB, Schroeder
(O) 2-4 run.
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