The North Kitsap Little League Majors Softball All Stars had an unusual tradition this year. After a bad play, the player would write it down on a piece of paper and then throw it down an unused toilet seat in the dugout, allowing them to symbolically flush it away.
No matter how many runs they were behind, North Kitsap was never out of the game in this year’s district tournament, although a valiant effort in the title game came up a little bit short.
The final two games of the tourney were decided by a total of three runs, and unfortunately North Kitsap was on the wrong end in both as Gig Harbor will be District 2’s representative in the state softball major tournament.
“I couldn’t be more proud of kids,” NK manager Tim Garrison said. “They were really tough, they hit from top to bottom, and we battled with them the whole way. That’s all you can ask for.”
North Kitsap trailed Gig Harbor 4-1 on Wednesday night, but managed to force extra innings. They scored twice in the fourth inning, which included an RBI-single from Romy Garrison, once in the fifth on Summer Moore’s RBI double, and twice in the sixth as Keira Martin knocked in a run with a base hit, and Abby Marrero scored on a wild pitch. But after being held scoreless in the seventh, Gig Harbor got a runner to third, who beat the throw to home on a ground ball. Garrison pitched the first six innings and struck out 13 hitters.
The team faced more adversity the next night as they went back and forth with Gig Harbor in a wild 24-22 slugfest. It was a rough night for pitchers, but there were plenty of hitting stars.
Martin, who served as North Kitsap’s leadoff hitter, went 5-for-6 and drove in six runs thanks to their bottom-order hitters — Marrero, Moore, Mikayla Burton and Sylvia Kemp — who combined to reach base eight times and score eight runs. Aadie Goller picked up two hits, including a double, and drove in four runs, and Layla Baker added a pair of RBI — she went 1-for-2 on the night, but reached base four times as she walked twice and was hit by a pitch. Malia Wendt also picked up two hits, walked twice and scored twice.
North Kitsap jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Martin and Garrison opened the inning with singles. Goller plated the first run on a groundout, and Baker and Olivia Lane followed with RBI singles. Burton and Martin also each picked up an RBI with a base hit.
Gig Harbor battled back to tie the game with a seven-run inning of their own in the top of the second and took a 10-7 lead in the third, but NK got back to even again in the bottom of the inning. Marrero doubled and came around to score on an error, and then Martin delivered another RBI. With the bases loaded, Goller drew a walk to tie the game.
North Kitsap took a 19-13 lead in the fourth, but Gig Harbor roared back to score eight in the top of the fifth to take a 21-19 lead.
It looked like Jaynie Davis might end up the night’s hero as she made a terrific grab in leftfield to close out the top of the fifth and then deliver a two-RBI single to put North Kitsap ahead 22-21. But Gig Harbor managed three more in the top of the sixth and then got a rare 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win.
North Kitsap will send two softball teams to their respective state tournaments. The NKLL Juniors All Stars beat Sequim 22-0 last week to qualify for the state tournament beginning July 10 in Vancouver, Wash. The 9-11 year old team will also play in the state tournament scheduled for Sunset Park in Auburn beginning July 10.