By SARA MILLER
Kitsap News Group
After a series of rainouts, South Kitsap High’s fastpitch team overcame the wind, a threat of rain and, ultimately, Bellarmine Prep, at the Wolves’ softball fields March 27. They eventually defeated both, topping the Lions 8-3.
The inclement weather made it difficult for the teams’ runners to get on base the first few innings.
“I think the girls were definitely cold but I don’t think you could tell it affected them, they played great,” head coach Mindi Outhwaite said.
Statia Cermak started on the mound for the Wolves with a quick strikeout against Bellarmine’s lead-off hitter. The Wolves then made quick work of the inning, getting two more ground outs before heading back to the dugout.
Both teams battled to see who would score first. In the second inning, Jordynn Lawrence was walked to get on base. With two outs, Alexis Gojkovich hit a deep ball into left field. On a less windy day, the ball would have soared easily over the fence. With the wind blowing steadily, however, she settled for a double and an RBI, giving the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
Rain clouds began dampening the field at the top of the third inning, making it difficult for Cermak to control her pitches.
“I told her to focus on what she knows best,” Outhwaite said. “She’s a great pitcher and she can hit her spots. So I wanted her to stay in her right mind and throw those strikes.”
After a long battle with the Lions’ lineup, Cermak finally was able to retire her batter and head into the bottom of the inning.
Third baseman Naioki Marion started off the Wolves’ inning with a shot down the third base line.
Sophia Canton and Teanna Lathum were both walked, loading the bases for Lawrence. On her first pitch, Lawrence hit the ball through the gap in center field, bringing in two more runs, making the score 3-0 in the bottom of the third.
And the Wolves didn’t stop there. After Kindra Hawkinson was hit by a pitch, Jiselle Woodson bunted the ball and used her speed to beat the throw to first. With a wild throw flying past the first baseman, another runner scored, upping the score to 4-0 with only one out.
Gojkovich was up again, and with a 2-0 count against her, she hit another deep ball into center field. Although this time her blast was caught, she advanced the runners for another RBI, putting the Wolves up 5-0.
With two outs, Angel Prewitt was walked, and Cermak came up to the plate. A line drive into center field scored Woodson, and the Wolves inched the score to 6-0.
With the bases loaded, Canton hit a line drive into center field. Haley McMasters made a sliding catch to finally end the inning for the Lions.
The Wolves went three-and-out on defense with Gojkovich, Hawkinson and Canton all catching pop flies to end the top of the fourth inning and get back to offense.
Lathum was first up to bat and started off the bottom of the fourth with a hit deep into right field that resulted in a triple.
Lawrence came up next. She bunted the ball to the pitcher to score the runner for an RBI and make the score 7-0.
After Lawrence was thrown out at first, the next two batters were struck out by Bellarmine’s Chelsea Smith to end the inning, with the pitcher only giving up one run.
Bellarmine’s Taegan Takayoshi, first up for the Lions, hit a shot over Marion’s head for a single. A wild pitch by Cermak led Takayoshi to steal second base as Mikayla Carlsen was eventually walked.
Meg Sullivan was then walked, loading the bases for the Lions before a ball shot through the infield gave put Bellarmine on the board.
The Lions rallied two more runs as Bellarmine hit shots through infield gaps, sending the score to 7-3 to go into the bottom of the fifth.
Gojkovich started the inning with a high-flying ball to the outfield that fell in front of right fielder. Because the ball skied and hung in the air, she was able to use her speed to advance to second base.
Prewitt came up next and bunted the ball to advance the runner, despite being thrown out at first.
After Cermak was walked, Marion hit a pop fly to center field. Thinking it was going to drop, Gjokovich took off from third but was tagged after not tagging up. With the double play, the Lions ended the inning without being scored on again.
Three pop flies once again kept the Wolves basemen on the field just a short time.
After Canton struck out, Lathum hit a fly ball to center field that was caught by Sullivan. Lawrence came up next for the Wolves with two outs against them. On her first pitch, Lawrence hit a line drive through to center field for a single, bringing Hawkinson up to the plate.
Having been hit by a pitch during her previous at-bat, Hawkinson approached the plate cautiously. However, with two balls against her, she hit a ball over the right fielder’s head, resulting in a double and scored Lawrence from first base, sending the Wolves up 8-3 before the inning ended.
To start the top of the final inning, Gojkovich collected a ground ball to right field and was able to throw the runner out at first.
While Lawrence’s dropped ball got a runner on baseLawrence, Gojkovich caught a pop fly to give the Wolves a second out.
In the final pitcher-versus-pitcher match up, Canton took on Smith. With a 2-2 count, Smith popped up a foul ball, but Hawkinson got to it and ended the game for the Wolves, who won the contest 8-3.
“I feel great about the win, I think the girls played great today,” Outhwaite said.
Canton ended the game with six strikeouts and an RBI. Gojkovich went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and Lawrence went 1 for 2 with 2 RBIs.