TACOMA — Scoring runs hasn’t been an issue for South Kitsap softball (5-2) so far this season and, although it took a while, that was epitomized against Bellarmine Prep (4-4) on April 2.
The Wolves were up late in the ballgame, but only by a few runs. That was until head coach Paul Cermak told his team to be aggressive at the plate.
And it certainly paid off.
The Wolves sent 14 hitters to the plate in the top of the sixth inning, scoring 10 runs on eight hits and ultimately blowing the ballgame open. SK starting pitcher Kindra Hawkinson was called on for one more inning as the mercy rule went into effect when she completed the game. The Wolves came away with a monumental 18-5 victory over the Lions.
What makes the top of the sixth even more baffling is that all 10 runs scored by South Kitsap came when there were already two outs. Senior Gabby Rogers flew out to lead off the inning and sophomore Lynden Wolf flew out a couple batters later.
Then came the hit parade.
“What I try to teach them is swing at everything,” Cermak said. “Then, you have one decision to make: stopping your bat … I finally told them, ‘Look, if you’re thinking, you’re stinking. Get in the box, swing at everything, count on instinct and just drive it.’”
They had to battle the occasional chilly gusts of wind, but fans who attended the contest were in for a treat. Five separate athletes smashed a home run in the match — and it didn’t even go seven full innings. Also, none of those five longballs came in the big offensive inning in which the Wolves scored 10 times.
Although BP starting pitcher Chelsea Smith struck out six hitters in the first three innings, Wolves junior Naioki Marion tagged her for a two-run homer in the first. Smith allowed a couple more runs, and by the end of one, it was all South Kitsap. The Wolves jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.
“That home run Oki hit,” SK assistant coach James Bergstrom said, “I called the White House. It still hasn’t landed yet.”
Bellarmine Prep made it interesting in the third inning when junior cleanup hitter Abby Jacka cleaned up the bases. With one swing of the bat, she unloaded a mammoth grand slam to tie the game at 4-4.
“I told Abby, ‘If you keep your weight back, you’re going to hammer this kid,” Lions head coach John McMasters Jr. said. “And sure enough, two pitches into that at-bat — she stayed back on her right side, got behind it and was able to launch it pretty deep which got us back into the game.”
Smith, who pitched all six innings in the contest, helped herself out by nailing a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. However, South Kitsap clobbered two homers in the top half.
Senior Statia Cermak and freshman Kaitlynn Johnson got in on the action with a pair of home runs. Along with a sacrifice fly, the Wolves had a healthy 8-5 lead before they unloaded in the sixth.
Hawkinson gave up five runs on two swings of the bat, but aside from that, Cermak said she was near-perfect.
“It’s the best game she’s pitched all year,” he said. “She pitched the whole thing. She came back strong in the end and she’s starting to trust her stuff.”
South Kitsap has now outscored their opponents 73-39 in seven games this year. The Wolves look to continue that trend today at 4 p.m. when they take on Olympia at home.