Sports

Wolves will go as far as pitching takes them

With a core group of seniors returning from a team that was one run away from last year’s state tournament, South Kitsap fastpitch coach Kathy Ballew has reason to smile.

But that’s not the only thing that’s put a smile on Ballew’s face. It seems this group of seniors wanted some things to change, and they took it upon themselves to get it done.

“We want things to be different this year,” senior pitcher Brittany Miller said. “We don’t care what it takes. We want more conditioning, we want more hard work.”

Miller and fellow senior Amanda Galla, Stephanie Mott and Chantal Boddie, among others, went to Ballew before spring practice began and talked about doing things differently this year, with more emphasis on discipline, conditioning and hard work.

It was a bold statement to make coming from a team that was stopped short of the state playoffs with a 4-3, 10-inning loss in last year’s West/Central District Tournament.

“I think it shows how willing the seniors are to work hard,” Ballew said. “They knew that they could use a little bit more pushing and discipline. They were willing to do that and say that, and it shows through their work ethic.”

Consequently, the Wolves have been getting together at 6:15 a.m. every morning for an hour-long workout before school. Then they’re putting in their time after school with a two-hour session.

“It’s refreshing,” Ballew said. “I think in the past they’d get by with just what they could ... and they didn’t want to settle for that. They’ve all taken on the role to make sure than everyone puts in their 100 percent, and they won’t settle for anything less.”

And today is the day the Wolves find out just how far the new attitude as taken them, as they open the season with a noon game against Spanaway Lake at SK field.

“We’ve been working hard, harder than in the past,” Ballew said. “And physically, I think we’re more prepared than we have been.”

That should bode well for a team that went 18-7 last year and was literally one out away from a state tournament berth. It’s also a team that returns two of the top pitchers in the Narrows League Bridge Division and a small but athletically strong core group of position players.

Miller and fellow senior Galla return to anchor what should be the league’s best and deepest pitching staff. The pair won 15 games together last year and each carried an earned run average well below a run a game.

Both have taken the leadership role and were instrumental in approaching Ballew about certain changes they wanted to see.

“We decided we didn’t want a lazy season again,” Galla said. “We’re definitely working harder this year than we ever have. Everyone’s got a better attitude. We’re getting everything done.”

The Wolves will go as Galla and Miller go, and according to Ballew, Miller will get the call first. That would put Galla at first base when she’s not pitching.

“We are strongest with Brittany on the mound because of the first base situation,” Ballew said. “Amanda is an awesome pitcher but that does leave a hole (when she’s pitching).”

Besides pitching, South also returns one the league’s better defenses, anchored by Mott, the human vacuum cleaner at shortstop.

Mott will be the centerpiece of an infield that will include Galla at first and Jievielyn Howard at third. Sophomore Caty Lieseke will take over behind the plate.

“Pitching is definitely going to be our main thing,” Mott said. “And he have so much depth at pitcher that it makes it one of our strongest points. And I think our defense will help out, too, since we have almost our whole infield back.”

Lieseke steps into a position that has been strong for the Wolves over the last couple of years, and she already has the confidence of her teammates.

“I’ve heard from the basketball team that she’s a really hard worker,” Mott said. “And from what I’ve seen, she’s really dedicated. And she knows here stuff, too.”

Boddie returns in right field for the Wolves and will be joined by a couple of yet-to-be-determined newbies.

“We do have a good group and we’re younger,” Boddie said, “but I think a lot of people are starting to step up.”

With the defense and pitching in good shape, all the Wolves need is a few big bats — something they were missing last year.

“We’ll definitely have stronger bats this year,” Miller said. “We’re spending a little more time on that.”

Lieseke carries a wallop at the plate and Galla said she’s hitting better now than she ever has.

All of which leads Ballew to just one place and train of thought.

“My expectations are state – being in that state championship game,” Ballew said. “Otherwise, why put in all the time and effort. And I think they’re starting to realize that they have the potential to do that.

“The experience is there, especially in being in tight situations,” Ballew said. “Them knowing they were just that one step away, they know what it takes. Experience, I guess, is one of our advantages.”

2005 South Kitsap fastpitch schedule

DATE      OPPONENT       TIME

3-19 SPANAWAY LAKE  Noon

3-21 at Olympia 4 p.m.

3-23 MOUNT TAHOMA 3:30 p.m.

3-25 at Kentridge 3:30 p.m.

3-26 STANWOOD Noon

3-28 PORT ANGELES 3:30 p.m.

3-30 at Shelton 3:30 p.m.

4-13 NORTH KITSAP 3:30 p.m.

4-15 STANWOOD 3:30 p.m.

4-18 at Olympic 3:30 p.m.

4-20 at Gig Harbor 3 p.m.

4-22 CENTRAL KITSAP 3:30 p.m.

4-25 BREMERTON 3:30 p.m.

4-27 at Port Angeles 3:34 p.m.

4-29 SHELTON 3:30 p.m.

5-2 at North Kitsap 3:30 p.m.

5-4 OLYMPIC 3:30 p.m.

5-6 GIG HARBOR 3:30 p.m.

5-9 at Central Kitsap 3:30 p.m.

5-11 at Bremerton 3:30 p.m.

Home games in CAPS

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