Sports

"SK splits at districts, earns spot in state playoffs"

"While Elton Goodwin knew what he was getting in his ball club last year, the South Kitsap High School baseball coach is puzzled by the Jekyll and Hyde team he's coached this year.Which team is going to show up? The team that committed four errors and gave up four unearned runs in a 13-2 shelling by Federal Way, or the team that played flawlessly with pitching and defense against Capital in an 11-1 win?These questions will be answered Saturday in Tacoma at Heidelburg Park at 11 a.m. when SK (17-6) takes on Shorewood (17-4) in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.The Wolves come into the contest losers of two of the last three games.But they're coming off a clutch win against Capital Friday at Kent Memorial Stadium that propelled them into the state tournament.SK junior ace Dan Knox showed why he's the team's most valuable player.He hurled a three-hitter and struck out six batters in six innings to earn the victory.While Goodwin is still searching for a No. 2 pitcher, he said he feels confident with Knox starting against Shorewood.I feel comfortable with Knox on the mound, Goodwin said. He is tough on the mound. He throws a good hard fastball. It's not fast fast, but I've had guys like this before. It's like the ball has lead in it.Goodwin could have thrown Knox against No. 1 ranked Federal Way in the first game of the West Central District tournament Friday, but he decided to save him for Capital.The strategy paid off.Being one of only five seniors on the team, Ryan Sage said the team was very nervous going into the game against Federal Way.We weren't expected to win so it was a real downer, Sage said. We couldn't make the routine plays and we were thinking too much, throwing it away and choking it.Absorbing the brunt of the abuse was pitcher Travis Vetters.Vetters surrendered seven hits, including a home run and two doubles, in two innings.Though a pair of throwing errors by shortstop Josh Showers may have prevented Federal Way from blowing the game wide open, Vetters clearly struggled against one of the best hitting teams in the state.Goodwin said he likes Vetters' stuff, but the problem is his control.Knox was around the plate, Goodwin said. If Travis were around the plate he'd have won, too.Though SK managed two runs, the Wolves showed they can hit good pitching.SK struck out only once against Federal Way's ace Nick Batkoski.The Wolves made good contact on the ball but most of the balls went directly to a fielder.With five hours to spare in between games, Sage said the team did a little relaxing to ease the tension.We got some food, relaxed, and played video games and got our mind off it, Sage said. We knew we had another chance. But we knew if we didn't beat Capital we're done. Nobody wanted to end our season like that.Sage admitted the inexperience on the team can play a big part emotionally.If you watched that first game, little mistakes open big innings for the other team, he said. Veterans usually don't make those mistakes. It's a state of mind. We were all nervous but you gotta go in there and play.Though mental gaffes are a concern, Goodwin said he hopes a No. 2 pitcher emerges for SK.If Knox and company trip up Shorewood, they would play the Port Angeles/North Kitsap winner four hours later.The prospects would be great for SK because it wouldn't have to face aces Mike Ridgway (Port Angeles) or Will Fenton (NK) since they will have pitched against each other.But just like those teams, Goodwin is still looking for that second pitcher.Vetters and Boya Quichocho have logged the most innings, but steadily sophomore Eric Deisler has started to show his potential. I still don't know (who to go to), Goodwin said. I still haven't got a clue. "

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