Strange season ends on a solid note for Wolves

It’s been two weeks since the South Kitsap baseball team’s season came to a bizarre yet convincing end.

But in the mind of coach Jim Fairweather, things are just getting going.

“I’ve already started planning next year,” the third-year coach said. “I’m already in that mode in my brain – of what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it differently.”

South had its best run in Fairweather’s tenure, finishing second in the Narrows League Bridge Division before going on a playoff run that took the Wolves to the Class 4A state tournament and eventually the round of eight.

The Wolves finished 13-8 overall and came within one win of making the state’s Final Four for the first time since South won its last state title in 2003.

South recovered from a shaky beginning and a losing record to make a run at the division title and an equally impressive state playoff run that ended May 20 on the opposite sides of blowouts.

South ended its season by beating Puyallup 21-2 before losing to eventual state champ Jackson, 18-0.

And what a strange trip it was.

With just a handful of starters returning from a team that was 13-7 overall and bounced from the postseason after just one cross-over game in 2005, things didn’t look good at the beginning.

Hopes were raised early when a few surprises showed up on the pitching staff but by the first week of April, the Wolves seemed a long way from not only the round of eight, but the playoffs in general.

After being swept by then-winless Olympic, South Kitsap stood at 4-4 and faced the meat of its schedule. But that’s when the team responded by winning nine of its final 13 games, proving it was still a factor in the

state tournament.

“I would have liked to have won more,” Fairweather said. “We struggled in the early part of our season but it was nice to get that worked out and make the run that we did.

“You’re trying to grow,” he said, “and you’re trying to teach (the kids) good values and teach them humility and all those types of things, and maybe that was just part of the lesson that we needed to learn with this team. Down the stretch, we made a nice run and we felt good about ourselves. We finished with a state place, and I would say that is successful in a lot of different ways.”

Fairweather said while some may measure success by the number of league and state titles, and he added he wants to reach that level of success, he finds success right where it lies – in the growth of his team.

“We matured a lot, and we grew a lot,” Fairweather said. “We learned a lot of things about ourselves and about each other.”

He said that the early stages of the year were filled with too much selfishness and a lot of players and coaches were too worried about themselves and their own statistics. But once they came together as a group, a long meeting after the Olympic series helped, things fell into place.

“As we all find as we go up the ladder, we need to be able to adapt and change to go up to higher levels,” Fairweather said. “We hadn’t done that to that point, and we were getting beat.”

A little team soul-searching led to a series split with both Central Kitsap and Gig Harbor, the latter one highlighted by a tremendous seventh-inning comeback win, before an all-too-important four-game winning

streak to end the year to secure second place in league and an automatic berth in the West Central District Tournament.

From there, the Wolves won a cross-over game and ended up going 2-2 against some of top-ranked teams in both the state and the nation.

The Wolves will lose a solid core that includes Zach Jacob, Kyle Pease, Andrew Thatcher and Kenny Landenberg. But there is plenty of talent returning to work with as pitchers Mitch Williams, Brent Pishue and Brad Johnson return, while Josh Puckett, Josh Lounsberry and Michael Cooper, all of whom saw plenty of playing time, also return.

Fairweather said his main objective over the offseason is to get his team to hit better. He said he is going to do whatever its takes to learn how to teach his kids that aspect of the game. He also feels he will return a strong defensive team and is totally confident in his returning pitchers.

All of that should lead to continued success.

“I think the future’s bright and I’m excited,” Fairweather said. “I anticipate good things. But we’ll see.”

Wolves place 11 on NL All-Bridge team

Zach Jacob led a group of 11 South Kitsap baseball players to be named to the 2006 Narrows League Bridge Division All-League team.

But the senior shortstop was the only member of the Wolves’ team to be named to the first team. Kyle Pease, Jason Read, Ryan Cosgrove and Mike Cooper were named to the second team.

South Kitsap concluded its season two weeks ago, coming a win shy of a berth in the Class 4A Final Four. The Wolves had a record of 13-8.

2006 Narrows League Bridge Division All-League Team

First team

First Base - Jordan Nakaya, North Kitsap

Second Base – Aaron Johnson, Central Kitsap

Third Base – Tyler Owens, Central Kitsap

Shortstop – Zach Jacob, South Kitsap

Outfield – Xavier Mancha, Olympic

Outfield – Josiah Ward, Gig Harbor

Outfield - Perry Knudsen, Port Angeles

Catcher – Chris Darling, Port Angeles

Pitcher - Jordan Prince, North Kitsap

Pitcher - Troy Burki, Gig Harbor

Pitcher - David Stilley, Central Kitsap

Designated Hitter – Nick Bankus, Olympic

Utility – Jordan Prince, North Kitsap

Second Team

First Base - Caleb Brown, Central Kitsap

Second Base – Kyle Pease, South Kitsap

Third Base – Jason Read, South Kitsap

Shortstop – Nick Mareno, Gig Harbor

Outfield – Nate Wallen, Central Kitsap

Outfield – James Smith, North Kitsap

Outfield – Ryan Cosgrove, South Kitsap

Outfield – Jordan Tucker, North Kitsap

Catcher – Joe Bennis, North Kitsap

Pitcher - Chris Darling, Port Angeles

Pitcher - KJ McLean, Central Kitsap

Pitcher - Kyle Pease, South Kitsap

Pitcher - Sean Morrow, Shelton

Designated Hitter – Mike Cooper, South Kitsap

Utility – Alex Olsen, Shelton

Honorable Mentions

First Base - Josh Lounsberry, South Kitsap, Jason Bernett, Olympic; Second

base - David Benedict, Gig Harbor, Jeremy Huffman, Olympic; Third base –

Nick Lavin, Port Angeles; Shortstop - Daniel Zylstra, Central Kitsap;

Outfield – Brad Durham, Central Kitsap, Bobby Kelner, Central Kitsap,

Kenny Ladenberg South Kitsap; Catcher - Daniel Beckon, Central Kitsap,

Aaron Smothers, South Kitsap; Pitcher - Brent Pishue, South Kitsap, Ronnie

Purser, Olympic, Zac Brown, Central Kitsap, Andrew Thatcher, South Kitsap;

Designated hitter - Cameron LaDuke, Port Angeles

Most Valuable Player- Tyler Owens, Central Kitsap

Coach of the Year- Bill Baxter, Central Kitsap

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