Doubleheader showcases SK All-Stars

Between them, they had more than 20 All-League Selections, several MVPs and a handful of college scholarships.

But when 32 of Kitsap County’s top fastpitch players took to Pendergast Field Friday afternoon, they got to add one more title to their names: pioneers.

West Sound’s top fastpitch players got to show off their talent in the First Annual Benik Corp./1010 Graphx Fast-pitch Showcase, as the top players in each division’s leagues divided into an “American League” and “National League” team and squared off in a doubleheder.

The National League took the first game, 1-0, when Olympic High School’s

Lauren Haas hit an RBI single to left field to score North Mason’s Tiffany McDonald.

Both Haas and McDonald were both league MVPs during their careers.

North Kitsap’s Heather Case, the co-MVP of the Narrows League this season, played a key role in the American League’s 3-1 win in the second game.

Case knocked in two of the team’s three runs with a single in the third inning.

She also pitched the last three innings, yielding one run on four hits.

The American League’s other RBI in the game came courtesy of Olympic’s Hope Hillman, whose RBI single in the fifth scored Case, who had walked.

The National League’s one run came in the sixth, when Haas, who went 2-for-2 in the second game, rapped an RBI single to score McDonald, who had singled.

The players wore their school uniforms for the game, but one player said the game reminded her of another team she played for in the summer.

“I’m teammates with at the least eight or nine of these girls,” SK senior Cathy Kniess said. “This was like a little reunion, and it was a game you didn’t have to stress about or worry about winning. It was just a good time.”

Fellow departing SK senior Melissa Ballard said the inaugural event was a success.

“This was fun,” Ballard said. “And to have all of the top players in the area all playing together was cool.”

Olympic College fastpitch coaches Brian Strege and Clay Blackwood coached the games, with Strege, the head coach at OC, taking the National League team and Blackwood manning the American League.

“These kids work so hard at their game, it’s good that they get to showcase their skills,” said Blackwood. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The event was sponsored by the Kitsap County Bremerton Athletic Roundtable.

Funding came from several sponsors, most notably the Benik Corp., which has financially committed itself to three years’ worth of games.

Mike Lillybridge, the KCBAR president, was ecstatic about the surprising turnout (one estimate was that 150 fans had attended) and the chance for

Kitsap County’s players to be able to showcase their talent close to home.

“I’m sick of watching the kids play in Snohomish, Issaquah, Olympia,” he said.

The players’ names were submitted by coaches from around Kitsap Coun-ty.

Unlike some All-Star games, it featured sophomores and juniors as well as seniors.

SK junior Savannah Starkweather and sophomore Stephanie Mott also participated in the doubleheader.

Sports editor Josh Morton contributed to this article.

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