Wolves turn back Tides

"After four years of thumpings at the hands of Gig Harbor, the South Kitsap High School fastpitch team finally ended its losing streak with a 3-2 win at home Wednesday.It couldn't have come at a better time.Having stumbled in the first half of the season, the Wolves vowed to turn their season around and may have done so with a win against Gig Harbor.The Wolves (4-6 overall, 3-3 Narrows League) are scrapping for third place and a chance to play for a district berth.SK coach Kathy Ballew said beating arch-rival Gig Harbor could be the catalyst for a strong second half.The win came nearly two weeks after losing 3-1 to a feeble Foss team.Ballew admits it isn't a lack of talent that led to the sub-par first half.We've had interpersonal problems, but I think we straightened them out early this week, Ballew said. I think our spring break helped. We got away from (fastpitch), which is the first time we've done that. I think that's what we needed more than practice.SK senior pitcher Carri Lefler, who went the distance against the Tides, said a team meeting smoothed out any animosity filtering throughout the team.We had a big meeting the other day about problems among the team and I think that was a big problem we had, Lefler said. We fixed a lot of it. We talked ourselves up (against Gig Harbor) and kept the energy throughout the game and it showed in the end.With eight games remaining, Ballew said the season starts now.That's what everybody's outlook is, she said. They said to each other to not count us out yet. I personally know that attitude-wise if there were some interpersonal problems with the team I know that's been fixed. Coming out and playing like this shows we're doing fine. It's such a big difference when they're getting along.It was a team effort led by Lefler's gritty performance on the mound that led to SK's win.However, it wasn't until the fifth inning when the SK bats started to catch up to Gig Harbor pitcher Hannah Johnson.Missy Quam, who hit a single in the third inning, was the only SK baserunner through four innings.Gig Harbor struck first in the second inning on a run-scoring single from Daniele Atkinson.That hit loaded the bases with one out, but SK's defense held strong.Third baseman Dianna Pike fielded a sharp grounder from Colleen Storrar and threw the ball on the short hop to freshman catcher Savannah Starkweather, who made the tough catch for the force out.Lefler induced a flyout to end Gig Harbor's threat.After coasting in the third inning, Lefler again found herself in a jam but was bailed out with a solid defense behind her.With one out, Gig Harbor's Stephanie Burns reached third on a error, a Haley Knecht single and a fielder's choice.Atkinson hit a shot to shortstop Kelsey Herstad, who checked Burns at third base and threw to Sara Brown for the force out on Knecht.Storrar followed with a hard-hit grounder that bounced off Pike's glove, but Herstad was there to back it up and applied the tag on Atkinson to end the inning.Starkweather started a rally on offense in the fifth inning with a leadoff triple.Lefler helped herself at the plate with an infield single to put runners at first and third with no outs.Annique Cabiniss, pinch running for Lefler, stole second and induced a throw that allowed Starkweather's courtesy runner, Cathy Kniess, to steal home and tie the score 1-1.Despite singles from Quam and Jen Christianson, SK couldn't muster another run in the inning.The Tides started its third rally of the game in the top of the sixth inning. After putting runners on second and third with one out, Lefler barred down forced a flyout and groundout to end the inning.SK mounted its own attack in the bottom of the inning.Pike led off with a single and advanced to third on a error and fielder's choice.Herstad, who reached base on the error, advanced to second base on the fielder's choice.Pike scored on a wild pitch and Lefler hit a run-scoring single to bring in Herstad.Gig Harbor refused to back down in its final three outs.Lefler struck out the first two batters before giving up a triple to Hannah Shelley and back-to-back singles to Kaylen Whiting and Heidi Miller.Gig Harbor cut its deficit to 3-2 and had runners on first and second, but Lefler induced Burns into a game-ending groundout.SK's next game is at Bellarmine April 20 at 3:30 p.m. "

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