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With playoffs looming, SK cranks it up
After an up-and-down regular season, South Kitsap baseball coach Jim Fairweather is feeling a bit better these days.
Id say Im happy to be here. Thats really the truth, Fairweather said. I was concerned at first if we would be and Im very happy that were here and we get this opportunity. Hopefully well do something with it.
That opportunity begins Saturday for the defending Class 4A state champs in a Narrows League crossover game against Foss at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Stadium in Tacoma.
The Wolves closed out their Bridge Division campaign with a 10-4 mark, good enough for second place behind North Kitsap. South, 12-6 overall, played Olympia late Tuesday.
Its a little bit like what I had planned for, Fairweather said. I was kind of hoping to be the No. 1 team, of course, but that didnt work out and North deserves it. They went out and earned all their wins.
But to be the No. 2 team is just about as good in that you dont have to play the play-in game. Were not in a loser-out situation, so we can relax and test some things and get kids into the games and keep them sharp.
Fairweather caught a bit of a break in his scheduling. The May 12 game against Auburn was put in place as a tuneup game for the West Central District Tournament May 15, but a rainout bumped the March 24 game against Olympia to Tuesday, giving the Wolves a game before the League crossover game against Foss.
I like the idea of not having to lay over all week long just to play one or two games on a Saturday, Fairweather said.
With the playoffs looming, there seems to be a different air about the Wolves.
Im just excited, Fairweather said. Im excited for these kids. If youll notice, were together, were fairly unified. The kids like each other and all of that came out pretty good. That was part of plan, too, to get these guys to get together and believe each other, and I think they do.
The players, many of whom were not part of the state title run last year, are sensing a change as well.
I think were really going to turn it on for the playoffs, catcher Brent Nickerson said. Weve had a bunch of good games towards the end of the season and I think our momentum is picking up. Were going to flip that little switch that we kind of needed earlier in the season to get us going. I think were going to be a really tough team for other teams to play.
I like the fact that we continue to battle, Fairweather said. Early in the season, we had questions about whether we belonged or not. Those questions arent there anymore. Now its just a matter of taking care of business.
Which is just what the Wolves have been doing of late.
Going into last Fridays game against Bremerton, an 18-5 win, the Wolves have been pounding the ball. Senior leftfielder Chris Anderson leads the team with a .526 batting average and has knocked in 21 runs. Nickerson, who Fairweather said is still under everyones radar, is hitting .466 with 18 RBI,
Aaron Cunningham is hitting at a .408 , while Pat Kelly is right at .400.
Were coming together pretty good, said Kelly, the teams shortstop. Hopefully, we can just go on a run like we did last year. Nothing against last years team, but I feel like this years team has more athletes and stuff. We just have to get the chemistry we had last year.
Part of that would be getting Josh Fullington, who struggled with his control for much of the regular season, back to his old form as appears to be happening just at the right time.
I feel like we have Fullington back, Fairweather said. He looks a little bit and feels a little bit more like himself, which helps all of the guys, too. Theyll get behind him and know that hes going to throw seeds and when they hit it, theyre going to catch it and get an out and all that just bodes well.
Fullington had some pop back in his pitches last week as he beat Central Kitsap, 5-3.
Hes definitely turning it on and getting ready for the playoffs, Nickerson said. They couldnt hit him the other day. His breaking ball was untouchable, and that was good to see.
As long as we get ourselves in a position to be there in the end, thats all you can ask for, Fairweather said. And thats what we have and were playing good at the right time.