POULSBO — North did its part.
The Vikings’ fastpitch team needed a win to stay in the postseason chase, and it got what it needed Wednesday afternoon, using a fast, efficient attack to sink the Olympic Trojans 3-0.
The Vikings weren’t helped by any other teams in the Narrows League, however; a split between Port Angeles and Gig Harbor kept the Vikings out of the fourth and final playoff spot.
In their win, the Vikings were aided by shutout pitching by Shana McLaughlin, who allowed only three hits in her five innings, and Heather Case, who pitched a pair of scoreless frames to secure the win; great defense, without an error all day; and timely hitting, led by Ashley Ellingsen’s 2 for 3 performance.
Head coach Dan Kolda was pleased with the Vikings’ efficiency: “What was important,” he said, “was how we won.”
While the Vikings played a great game, it didn’t start off that way. Olympic’s most threatening inning was the first, when first baseman Nicole Strickland lifted a double down the leftfield line and Celeste Kasiyama followed with a single.
Kasiyama hustled to second on the throw from the outfield, and the Trojans had runners at second and third with only one out.
McLaughlin intentionally walked Hope Hillman, then induced a pair of outs — a strikeout and a groundout — to rescue the inning.
The Vikings’ hitting was led by Ellingsen, who slammed a high fly ball over the Trojans’ left fielder to score Jamie Heins, who had singled earlier in the first inning.
The 1-0 lead stood for two more innings, until McLaughlin led off the fourth with a single. She stole second, was bunted to third by Ellingsen, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Case, who played shortstop until she took over on the mound in the sixth.
The Vikings’ third run came in the sixth, when McLaughlin doubled. She was replaced by courtesey runner Angela Kramer, who scored on an Ellingsen single — “Ashley carried us with her bat,” Kolda said later.
The Vikings were also carried by their defense, which included several snags by infielders Case and Rachel Skinner, as well concrete-solid play by outfielders Ellingsen, Brenda Stice and Melissa Allen.
Olympic coach Robin Campbell said, “We had baserunners but couldn’t get them across. We couldn’t get a clutch hit.”
Campbell’s words were backed up by the scorebook: the first, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth-spot hitters for the Trojans went without a hit Wednesday afternoon.
As for Kolda, he was glad the Vikings kept fighting their way towards the fourth and final playoff spot.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” he said, hours before Gig Harbor and Port Angeles started their double header “and we’re doing everything we can to dig ourselves out of it.”
Olympic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 4 0
North Kitsap 1 0 0 1 0 0 X – 3 7 0
Haas and Johnson; McLaughlin, Case (6) and Gilbert. WP: McLaughlin. LP: Haas. Leading hitters: Olympic, Nicole Strikland 1-3, 2B. North Kitsap: Ashley Ellingsen, 2-3, 3B, Shana McLaughlin 2-3, 2B.