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SK's comeback comes up short
"What started out as a game of fastpitch evolved into a game of cat and mouse.In the end, the South Kitsap High School team was Gig Harbor's catch of the day, losing 3-2 Thursday at the SERA complex in Tacoma.The loss came one day after SK extended its playoff hopes with a 5-1 win against Wilson in a loser-out game.The Tides and Wolves were battling for the fifth and final berth for the West Central District tournament.Just like last year, Gig Harbor ended SK's goal of reaching districts.The Wolves and Tides both squandered a multitude of chances to score runs.After SK battled back to tie the score 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning, it gave up two unearned runs in the bottom.Kaylen Whiting led off the inning with a pop-up behind second base, where shortstop Kelsey Herstad called for the ball. But centerfielder Cathy Kniess didn't see or hear her and ran into Herstad, forcing the dropped ball.That error proved costly for the Wolves.A wild pitch from SK pitcher Carly Siems followed by a Heidi Miller sacrifice advanced Whiting to third base.Miller scored on a fielder's choice and Danielle Atkinson's single scored the third run.Gig Harbor had a chance to pull away in the fifth inning, loading the bases with one out. But Siems induced a flyout and groundout to end the threat.SK was unsuccessful in the fifth and sixth innings, but it had one more burst in the seventh.Senior pinch hitter Jen Christensen led off with a single. Shary Arnold and Herstad registered back to back strikeouts to bring the Tides one out away from a win.Up stepped sophomore Cathy Kniess, who smashed the ball between the outfielders in left and center.Christensen easily scored and Ballew made the split-second decision to hold Kniess at third base.It was probably a good choice to hold her because the throw came in quickly.Obviously we had been watching their (Gig Harbor) arms all game and Cathy has the speed, Ballew said. After I didn't send her I was pretty glad I didn't. The ball came in and I knew Savannah (Starkweather) was coming up..Starkweather, a freshman catcher who has been one of the team's most consistent hitters, was looking for a single to tie the game.But she popped out to shortstop to end the game and SK's comeback bid.The score could have been higher for both teams.Incredibly, SK failed to get a run in the first inning after having runners on second and third with no outs.Siems said it was a frustrating game to play because of the combination of costly errors and bases on balls.It was really frustrating because the defense has given me confidence this year, Siems said. We just couldn't come together like we usually do. They did awesome all year, though, so I'm proud of them.Ballew said, knowing Siems, the lone starting senior, had played her final high school game was very hard.Siems, a first baseman and back-up pitcher, was thrown into the lineup as the No. 1 pitcher after senior Carri Lefler became academically ineligible.From the beginning of the season she said she was ready if we needed her, Ballew said. She worked hard to get herself ready to do that and wanted to do whatever she could for the team. To see the seniors not come back, that's real hard. I like the heart that they showed all the time.Junior Ashley Robinson gave SK its first run of the game in the fourth inning.She laced a single off pitcher Hannah Johnson to score Christensen, who was pinch running.SK had runners at second and third with one out but a groundout and strikeout ended SK's threat.Every inning we had chances to score, Siems said. It was a pretty even game, though, and they were doing the same thing. "