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FASTPITCH | Wolves headed back to state
SPANAWAY — There was laughing and cheering, but the celebration was far from jubilant.
After all, South Kitsap, which clinched a state playoff berth Monday during the Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District fastpitch tournament at Sprinker Recreation Center, did the same last year.
“I’m relieved we get to go to state,” South senior pitcher Ashley Chamberlin said. “I’m happy.”
“Yeah, I’m relieved because we’ve worked so hard to get here,” Chamberlin said. “We earned it.”
The larger focus for the Wolves (17-5) is to improve upon their results from a year ago at Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane. South, which heads back to play at that location Friday, was outscored 32-1 in state losses last year against Woodinville and Emerald Ridge.
“This group is not satisfied with just going,” South coach Jessica Cabato said. “They have some big plans once they’re there.”
The Wolves played a pair of games Monday that featured little resemblance to one another beyond the result. South first played a winner-to-state, loser-out contest against Bethel. In that contest, the Wolves played errorless defense — and took advantage of multiple Braves’ mistakes — behind right-hander starter Ashley Chamberlin en route to a 2-1 victory.
It started during the first inning when Chamberlin’s grounder was bobbled by shortstop Anna Olson. After a single by Shelby Reyes, Chamberlin scored on a Rylee Thomas wild pitch. South added another run in the third inning when Drew Camacho led off with a double and Kayla Clauson stepped up two batters later with one out.
She hit what appeared to be a routine ground out, but Thomas could not decide whether to throw to home plate or first base. Thomas then threw to first, where Clauson was called safe, while Camacho scored to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
Bethel’s best scoring opportunity came during the fifth inning when McKenna Michelsen drew a walk and stole second base. But her decision to attempt to steal third base proved costly when she was thrown out. That is because Alyssa Olson followed with a walk before Chamberlin struck out Kylie White. Bri Sutheit then singled before Amanda Johnson did the same to score Olson. That single up the middle could have tied the game without the failed stolen-base attempt. Instead, the Braves had to settle for one run as Anna Olson flew out to center field to end the inning.
And Chamberlin ensured Bethel had no more scoring opportunities as she struck out five of the final six batters in the contest.
“She was doing a great job of working the outside edges of the zone and making her ball move,” Cabato said. “Her offspeed is working and we’re using all of that right now.”
After clinching the 4A Narrows League Tournament championship May 10 against Bellarmine Prep — a team South defeated during the previous three meetings between the schools — the Wolves were unable to repeat in a consolation bracket seeding game Monday evening. South lost 2-0, which relegated it to the seventh or eighth seed out of districts into state.
“We’ll see a much higher-ranked team,” Cabato said. “It would have been nice to go in as five or six and see someone around the same ranking as you.”
The Lions (16-11) scored both of their runs in the first inning. After Alyssa McKiernan led off with a single, she scored with one out on a single to center field by Alex DeStephano. With two outs, DeStephano crossed home plate on a single by Rachel Barcena.
South managed just one hit on an Alissa Buss bunt during the fifth inning.
“I think there was a little bit of a letdown for them after making it,” Cabato said. “It’s hard to bring that same intensity for the second game. After the first inning, they cleaned it up and really put it together. They just weren’t hitting.”
But both Cabato and Chamberlin said the schedule change at districts benefited the Wolves. Chamberlin at times has struggled to maintain her stamina when pitching on consecutive days. South avoided that scenario when Saturday’s games were postponed until Monday because of rain.
“In a way I do [feel we benefited] because we had a bunch of sore arms and sore people,” Chamberlin said. “It could have held us back … but we maintained our focus.”
She emphasized the last word when it comes to achieving success at state.
“It won’t be easy,” Chamberlin said. “Last year we just showed up. This year we want to place.”
South Kitsap 2, Bethel 1
Bethel 000 010 0 - 1 4 2
South Kitsap 011 000 x - 2 5 0
Rylee Thomas and Brittany Genuardi. Ashley Chamberlin and Drew Camacho, Kayla Clauson (5).
Leading hitters-Amanda Johnson (B) 3-3 2B RBI, Alissa Buss (SK) 1-2, Clauson (SK) 1-2 RBI, Shelby Reyes (SK) 2-3.
Bellarmine Prep 2, South Kitsap 0
Bellarmine Prep 200 000 0 - 2 5 1
South Kitsap 000 000 0 - 0 2 2
Courtney Schwan and Abby McDonald. Ashley Chamberlin and Kayla Clauson.
Leading hitters-Alyssa McKiernan (BP) 2-2 run, Alex DeStephano (BP) 1-3 RBI run, Rachel Barcena (BP) 1-3 RBI, Alissa Buss (SK) 1-3, Hayley Romo (SK) 1-3.