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Fastpitch: Jaguars derail South Kitsap's state dream
Tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke.
South Kitsap fastpitch coach Kathy Ballew said it never is easy to see a season end, but this one was more difficult than most as the Wolves were eliminated with a 13-2 loss against Emerald Ridge on Tuesday afternoon in the West Central District Tournament at Spanaway’s Sprinker Recreation Center.
“This is the most emotion I’ve seen from a team,” said Ballew, as players consoled each other around her. "They know they didn’t play very well.”
The Wolves, who finished with a 17-5 record, won 5-0 in their first game Tuesday against Kentwood to set up a winner-to-state, loser-out contest against the Jaguars (14-12). Emerald Ridge, which was the South Puget Sound League’s No. 10 seed entering districts, defeated Tahoma 10-5 in its morning game to advance.
Because of heavy morning rain, the game was moved from its scheduled 3:15 p.m. start to 11:45 a.m. The move did not seem to help matters as it poured during the early innings before the rain let up and then stopped later.
“The conditions in the second game were way, way worse,” Ballew said. “I wish they weren’t in such a speed-up because they could’ve fixed the field a little bit. It was letting up.”
But she said that is not an excuse for the outcome, since both teams played in the same conditions.
Ballew was surprised by her team’s struggles, considering its success in the first game. The Wolves had three errors in the second game after committing none in the opener.
“We ended the first game pretty well,” Ballew said. “I thought we could take that momentum into it.”
Instead, the Jaguars continued their success after upsetting the Bears with four runs in the first inning. It was more than enough support for freshman left-hander Meagan Hendrix, who limited the Narrows League champions to five hits and struck out six in as many innings.
“I don’t know why we weren’t hitting,” Ballew said. “We had some chances.”
Emerald Ridge, which advances to the state tournament for a second consecutive season, added another run in the second inning and combined for eight runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth before the mercy rule was applied. The Jaguars were led by third baseman Taylor Buie, who went 3 for 4 and scored three times. Hendrix also went 2 for 4 and had two RBI.
Sophomore Ericka Hobson finished 2 for 3 and had South’s lone RBI in the fourth inning when her single scored catcher Bridjet Box.
“We just couldn’t get it going,” Ballew said. “It just kept rolling and getting worse and worse.”
Despite that, Ballew said she was glad the game was played. Several contests later in the day were canceled because of the weather. In those cases, the higher-ranked teams earned the better seeds to Friday’s state tournament at Tacoma’s South End Recreation Area. If the umpires had canceled the Wolves’ game, they would have advanced to state for the first time since 2003, while the Jaguars’ season would have ended.
“I’m glad we got to play it,” Ballew said. “We don’t want anything given to us.”
South also had an opportunity to advance to state Monday. It won its first-round game, 11-7, against Beamer to set up a second-round contest against Rogers that guaranteed the winner a state berth. But the Rams won 5-3 to relegate the Wolves to the consolation bracket.
“The little things that could’ve made a difference,” Ballew said. “That’s how it bounces sometimes. Luck has to be your way sometimes and it just didn’t roll.”
She hopes it will serve as a learning experience for next year’s team. Only Box and first baseman Alexis O’Dell, both of whom have signed to play at Centralia College, and infielder Holly Lider graduate.
“Some of that disappointment might make them hungry,” Ballew said.
“It’s always going to be an abrupt end. I sure would like to go out with a better showing.”
Emerald Ridge 13, South Kitsap 2 (6)
Emerald Rid. 410 323 — 13 15 0
South Kitsap 100 100 — 2 5 3
Meagan Hendrix and Vanna Seay. Emilly Cunningham and Bridjet Box.
Leading hitters: Taylor Buie (ER) 3-4 2B 3 runs RBI; Kelsey Burgi (ER) 2-4 2B; Hendrix (ER) 2-4 3B 2 RBI; Sam Sowards (ER) 2-4 2B; Ericka Hobson (SK) 2-3 RBI.
South Kitsap 5, Kentwood 0
Kentwood 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
South Kitsap 100 002 2 — 5 9 0
Rogers 5, South Kitsap 3
Rogers 001 112 0 — 5 14 0
South Kitsap 000 001 2 — 3 8 1
Emilly Cunningham and Bridjet Box. Bobbi Jo Schaapveld and Blair Hembroff.
Leading hitters: Hembroff (R) 3-4; Jessica Greenwood (R) 4-4 2 runs RBI; Box (SK) 2-3 2B.
South Kitsap 11, Beamer 7
Beamer 012 000 4 — 7 12 4
South Kitsap 310 250 x — 11 16 0
Emilly Cunningham and Bridjet Box.
Bern, Blouser and Whitton. Emilly Cunningham and Bridjet Box.
Leading hitters: Halle Colson (B) 2 2B 3 RBI; Bri Grosche (B) 3 RBI; Cunningham (SK) 2 3B; Alexis O’Dell (SK) 3-4.