Sports

Family within the team at SK

Samantha Jacobs excels in the outfield and on the mound for the Wolves. - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
Samantha Jacobs excels in the outfield and on the mound for the Wolves.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

An oft-used sports cliché equates teammates to family.

But for the South Kitsap High School fastpitch team, it’s a reality.

Samantha Jacobs is a starting pitcher and an outfielder for the Wolves. Her father, Robert, is a retired Navy officer who is an assistant to coach Kathy Ballew. And her sister, Sarah, 20, who is studying to become a teacher at Olympic College, is a coach for the junior-varsity squad.

“She’s kind of been my role model, and (I try) to be like her,” Jacobs said. “I used to catch for her and she kind of got me into pitching.”

It was Jacobs’ father who introduced her to the sport as a 4-year-old. She started out at catcher and then moved to third base before eventually settling in the outfield “because I liked to run.”

Her father has helped her in the backyard, catching the changeup, drop ball, fastball and screwball she throws.

He also throws to her so she’s ready when Ballew needs her in the outfield.

“He’s always there for me,” she said. “He’s just very supportive. I think to be a better player, you need to have a supportive family.”

Her father said he simply is happy to help his daughter and her teammates. It wasn’t an opportunity he had until he retired.

“It’s nice to help out with the high school,” he said. “The coaches have so many students — C team, JV and varsity — so they need help. It’s rewarding to be able to do it.”

The family connection has helped Jacobs become familiar with players at all levels in the Wolves’ program.

“It’s a family sport,” she said. “I view both teams as the family. You have good days and bad days with each other.”

South has seen those kind of mixed results on the field, too. The Wolves are 6-4 overall and 5-4 in the Narrows League.

Jacobs has a 4-1 record with a 4.80 ERA in 22 innings pitched this year.

“She is the most dedicated athlete with the biggest heart that I’ve had the good fortune to coach,” Ballew said. “She is at every practice always giving it her all.”

Jacobs has made that impression in a short time. She moved from her native California to Hawaii in first grade, then to Guam for three years, and eventually to Virginia as a sixth grader.

Her family settled in Port Orchard during the last school year.

“I’ve grown to like everyone wherever I’ve moved, so I don’t have a specific home,” Jacobs said. “I like Washington, (although) the weather could be a little warmer.”

Sometimes finding that warmth locally means getting into the pool at South, where she competes in the 500-yard freestyle for the Wolves.

“I’m more of a speed than a distance swimmer, but I’m willing to do whatever the coach asks me to do,” she said. “I’m adaptable.”

Jacobs’ next planned adjustment will be college. Ideally, she said she will play at study at Arizona, Texas, Pacific Lutheran, UCLA or Washington.

She hopes to become either a Naval aviator, if her vision is good enough, or a pediatrician.

Until then, father and daughters enjoy some extra family time together.

“It’s rewarding,” he said. “It makes it easier to bring them home.”

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