SK juniors make strong showing

"The senior American Legion baseball teams took them for granted and the junior team from South Kitsap made them pay for it during the five-day wooden bat tournament at Buck Gehring Field June 30-July 4.While SK's senior legion team was going two-and-out, the SK junior legion team - made up of 14-17 year olds - advanced to the championship game before losing to a strong Aberdeen team, which had outscored its tournament foes by an aggregate score of 56-1.The eight-team field was made up of six senior teams (18-19 year-olds) and two junior teams.After defeating Shelton 11-0, Eatonville 10-0, and Wilson 3-2, SK fell to Bremerton 4-2 and Aberdeen 3-0.SK started the tournament with a confidence-boosting 11-0 win against a much older Shelton team.SK shortstop Josh Meeker, 17, said there were definitely nerves before the start of the first game of the tournament.These guys were like 18 and 19 and huge, Meeker said. I was scared because these guys had beards. But we did pretty well. I expected to get killed and 10-runned but we came out and fought.What was more satisfying to Meeker was watching the older SK team get shelled by the same Shelton team they had defeated.SK teammate and junior-to-be Jeremy Hunt said Shelton and Wilson, both senior teams, took them lightly.Wilson and Shelton were overconfident, Hunt said. They were screwing off before the game. I heard a Shelton player say 'let's just take to them.' Hunt said the reason Shelton came back to beat the SK senior team was obvious.The senior team, they play for their own stats, Hunt said. We play as a team and want to win.Hunt said these up-and-coming ballplayers could also excel better at the high school level than some previous teams if the nucleus of players stick together.Many SK high school players in the past have joined teams across the Puget Sound to better their skills.But Meeker and Hunt agree this team of young high school players could go far if they play together year-round.I think it would be a great idea to stick together, Meeker said. We'll do great.Hunt said he and his teammates possess the hitting, pitching, and defense to make for a strong team for the next two to three years.We'll go far if we do stick together, Hunt said. We all get along with each other great.SK junior coach Ron Yingling said he couldn't have asked for a better performance from his players.The last two losses were tight games against quality players, Yingling said.After Aberdeen had gone on a scoring rampage in its previous four games, SK's Silas Quine shut them down for the first five innings.Silas did a great job, Yingling said. He didn't have his best stuff but he kept them off balance.Yingling said he was pleased with the offensive production from Rick Wikle and Doug Sacrison.Though the team is 13-12, Hunt said this is the most fun he's had playing baseball. More importantl,y the losses have been coming against stiff competition.I told them the only way we can get better is by playing better teams, Yingling said.Yingling also agreed they will only get better if they stay together.I'm very proud of this group, Yingling said. We've got a tough group right now with (pitchers) Bret Underwood, Silas Quine and Joel Foreman, Yingling said. The SK junior American Legion team will host Rogers at SK Monday at 6 p.m.They will return home for a game against Newport Thursday at 3 p.m."

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