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Wolves face elimination at hands of Shorewood
"For a baseball program accustomed to playing in the post-season, this year's South Kitsap High School baseball team enters the first round of the 4A state tournament woefully lacking in playoff experience.Other than senior centerfielder Dominic Rio, no other player was on last year's state qualifying team.Despite having an inexperienced nucleus of players, SK coach Elton Goodwin said he's confident about his team's chances against No. 5 state-ranked Shorewood.The Wolves battle the Thunderbirds today at 11 a.m. at Heidelburg Park in Tacoma in a loser-out game.A Wolves' win pits them against the North Kitsap/Port Angeles winner at the same site at 6 p.m.Goodwin said he likes his team's chances in the second game but knows the difficulty in getting past Shorewood and its No. 1 pitcher, Zach Kimball.We need to get through this first one because Shorewood is very, very good, Goodwin said. Kimball is a tough lefty. He comes at you with an 86-mile-an-hour fastball. My pro scout said they're better than Federal Way.SK lost 13-2 to Federal Way in the district tournament last weekend.But SK didn't throw ace Dan Knox in that game.Kimball is a bulldog on the mound, but Knox has an ability to bring out the best in his teammates.The kids play well behind him, Goodwin said. Knowing you've got a guy that's 6-0 on the mound and throws strikes (only eight walks in 37 innings), I think that's huge.Goodwin said the key to the game is getting to Kimball.Not only is he a hard thrower, but he throws a good curveball and uses it anytime.The key will be getting runners on base and utilizing their speed.Speed is one function Goodwin can play with this year.Rio (23 steals) and Tyler Mayfield (22 steals) both passed Willie Bloomquist (19) on the season record of stolen bases and are now competing with each other for the top mark.While it's a healthy competition, Goodwin said everyone will need to watch out for Kimball's pickoff moves to first base.He's got a good move to first base, he said. I'm going to try running on him though. I don't care if he's a lefty or not.Goodwin said he's picked up a couple things on his delivery and tends to tip his hand on what his intention will be.Offensively, Shorewood matches up comparably to Federal Way.The top five batters are the dangerous hitters in the lineup.Senior second baseman Chris Todd, a slap hitter, leads off and is dangerous on the base paths.Senior shortstop Sean Rybar is considered its best athlete. He hits for power and runs well.Tyler Abbott bats third in the lineup. He's lefthanded likes to pull the ball. He may be the team's best hitter. If runners are on base Abbott will be called to hit and run.Goodwin said having the lefthanded Knox will be beneficial since Todd and Abbot are both lefthanded batters.On the other side of the ball, Kimball has yet to face a team dominated by righthanded hitters.The Wolves could experience success on the basepaths if they get past Kimball's pickoff moves.Shorewood catcher Mike Hodges has a decent arm but is considered slow behind the plate.Goodwin said his squad is feeling confident despite playing the underdog role.I think the kids feel good, he said. I like our chances if we get by this game. This game is going to be tough to get by. But it's our turn. "