EAST BREMERTON — The Olympic High softball team knew it was going to be a tough game when they welcomed Port Angeles to town April 20 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. The Roughriders haven’t lost a league match since at least 2013 — and the Trojans were hoping to be the team to end that streak.
Despite rallying back with four runs early to tie the game after two innings, Olympic (4-2, 7-3) found itself down again in the third as Port Angeles (7-0, 10-1) continued to round the bases. After scoring three in the third, the Roughriders added four in the fourth and three in the seventh to break it wide open, eventually coming away victorious with a final score of 14-6.
“We know that they haven’t been beaten four years in league,” sophomore Molly Gates said. “We just really wanted to be that team, but unfortunately we couldn’t do it this year. There’s always next year.”
The Trojans tried to rally in the seventh, aided by some quality at-bats and noise from the dugout.
Senior Ashyln Morris showcased the importance of being a patient hitter throughout the game by walking three times. That’s how the bottom of the seventh got started. Then, three consecutive singles followed. Olympic’s offense had come to life and scored twice.
But just as quickly as the momentum shifted toward the Trojans, it slid right back to Port Angeles. Pitcher Hope O’Conner restored order and ended the game.
“Her pitches — all of them were working,” Port Angeles head coach Randy Steinman said of O’Conner’s performance.
Steinman made a somewhat uncharacteristic decision to pull his starting pitcher, senior Callie Hall, off the mound in the second inning. Hall had given up four runs and clearly didn’t have the pitches in her repertoire going for her.
Although she retired the first two Olympic hitters she faced on groundouts, Gates, who finished a homer away from the cycle, doubled to begin a two-out rally for the Trojans. The following four batters reached base — three via the free pass.
The second inning was similar, though less damaging. Again, the first two batters were retired, but a walk to Morris and a triple to Gates convinced Steinman to go to the bullpen.
“All of her pitches weren’t working,” he said. “I started her because I figured she’d come out here, show her stuff and everything, but it just wasn’t her day. And luckily, the second pitcher — it was her day.”
At one point, O’Conner retired eight Olympic batters in a row. She stifled the Trojans at the plate for 4 1/3 innings.
Olympic head coach Jessica Cabato said there were pitches to hit, but her batters didn’t capitalize on the opportunities as often as she had hoped for against a top-tier team Port Angeles team.
“And energy definitely got flat,” she added. “We were up in the beginning, got flat and tried to get up again in the end — the hits reflected that … This is a team [where] their play reflects their energy, so they have to work really hard to stay up for seven innings, keep that energy and stay strong for the whole game instead of playing selective innings.”
Cabato added that it’s especially frustrating when her team doesn’t score enough runs to win because she knows her players have the ability to hit their way back into ballgames.
“We have the bats, we have the pitching, we have all the tools that can make a comeback or play strong and hold teams down — they just can’t give up.”
Other than a couple of errors, the Trojans made some slick defensive plays in the field, highlighted by a rapid comebacker off the bat of Roughriders freshman Jaida Cargo. She lined a ball right to Olympic pitcher Dani Snyder, who put her glove up in defense.
A loud pop of the ball hitting the back of Snyder’s glove — and fans gasping as they jumped out of their seats — paused the match for a minute as even Snyder herself had a shocked look on her face when she came up with the out. Snyder had been hit with a line drive in the leg two days earlier during a game against North Kitsap.
“She got nailed the other day, so her reflexes are getting a little faster, I suppose,” Cabato said with a chuckle.
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at Jmoore@soundpublishing.com or follow him on Twitter @JMooreKDN.
Port Angeles 14, Olympic 6
PAR 4 0 3 4 0 0 3 — 14 18 0
OLY 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 — 6 8 2
WP: O’Conner LP: Kroesser
Olympic — Kroesser 3 1/3 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Snyder 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
Port Angeles — Hall 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K; O’Conner 5 1/3 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.
Olympic — Morris 0-1, 3 BB, 2 R; Gates 3-4, 3B, 2B, RBI, 2 R; Cabato 2-3, 2B, BB, R; Chipley 0-3, BB, RBI; Snyder 2-3, BB, 2 RBI