Sports

Fastpitch: Lester-Dame remains excited about Wolves' future

South Kitsap
South Kitsap's Ashley Chamberlin is among several players who will return next season. The Wolves were eliminated in two games during last week's state fastpitch tournament.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes photo

The cumulative numbers were ugly for South Kitsap's fastpitch team, but they did little to quell the optimism of first-year coach Tami Lester-Dame.

Her team was outscored 32-1 in losses against Woodinville and Emerald Ridge last Friday at Spokane's Merkel Sports Complex to be eliminated from the Class 4A state tournament.

Lester-Dame noted that 10 of 18 players on the Wolves' state roster were sophomores, though. It has been that way for South, which finished with a 12-15 record, throughout the playoffs.

"That's huge for them," said Lester-Dame, referring to the sophomores. "They got to see what's out there."

The Wolves had not advanced to state since 2003 and some players admitted to feeling pressure to end the drought during previous years. Lester-Dame thinks her players will benefit from not having to concern themselves with that in the future.

"It kind of sets a tone," she said.

Lester-Dame cited a conversation with sophomore first baseman Hannah Spohn as evidence of that. She said Spohn told her the goal now is to win at least a game next year at state and place in the tournament by 2014.

"They want to make a pattern to be in the playoff picture," she said.

The long bus rides also were beneficial. She said those enabled sophomores to speak with South's few seniors about adjustments they can make to be more prepared in the future.

"We had some really good dialogue between them," Lester-Dame said.

The Wolves did not fare much worse against Woodinville than anyone else. The top-ranked Falcons (26-0) completed their season with a 6-0 win against Walla Walla to win the 4A championship. Woodinville outscored its opponents 45-3 in four tournament wins.

South actually scored first against the Falcons, but watched as they responded with four runs in the bottom of the first inning.

"They came up and just hit the crap out of the ball," Lester-Dame said. "The hits just kept coming."

The Falcons added five runs in the second inning and six more during the following inning. Woodinville then scored four more times in the fourth inning before the mercy rule went into effect. Lester-Dame said the Falcons finished with 20 hits, while only senior Erika Henderson and sophomores Ashley Gidican and Spohn had hits for the Wolves.

Emerald Ridge then defeated South 13-0 in five innings to end the Wolves' season.

"We never got ourselves back up after Woodinville," Lester-Dame said.

Despite that, she said she was not disappointed with her team's performance. After all, Lester-Dame said she did not expect to reach state this year.

"When more than half of your group is sophomores, that's a great experience," she said.

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