PORT ORCHARD — Strong pitching and sparkling defense dominated an anticipated matchup between two of the top fastpitch teams in the South Puget Sound League on April 20.
Puyallup (8-0, 10-1) scored three unearned runs in the top of the first inning. From there on, the Wolves (4-3, 7-4) tried to claw their way back into the game against Vikings starter Sidney Booth but managed only one run in the 3-1 loss.
Kindra Hawkinson drove in South Kitsap’s only run of the game with an RBI double in the fifth inning. The Wolves loaded the bases in the seventh, but couldn’t bring a run home.
“These are the kinds of games that make us better,” head coach Paul Cermak said. “We don’t get better run-ruling teams. We just don’t.”
Statia Cermak went to the pitching circle for just the second time this season and was locked in for much of the game as Puyallup did all of its damage in the first inning.
Olivia Ellingson led off the game with a double and was sacrificed to third by McKennah Ulrey. Sophia Bjerk then reached on an error to bring home the first run of the game.
After a walk to Booth put two runners on base, a wild throw to first on a ground ball by Autumn Murphy gave Puyallup a 3-0 lead.
“All good games come down to who makes the fewest mistakes, and we made one or two in the first inning,” Cermak said.
From there, pitching and defense took over.
In the second inning, Puyallup attempted a delayed steal of home with runners at first and third. Catcher Jordynn Lawrence threw down to second and the return throw by Kaitlynn Johnston was on target to nail the runner at the plate and prevent another run.
But the Vikings’ defense also took its fair share away from South Kitsap. After Lynden Wolf recorded the Wolves’ first hit in the game in the fourth, Ellingson made a diving catch in center field that likely took away an extra-base hit from Johnston and perhaps a run. In the fifth, Ulrey snared a hard line drive off Gabby Rogers’ bat with a dive to her left.
South Kitsap finally broke through against Booth in the fifth. Alicia Gojkovich singled with two outs and then stole second. Hawkinson stepped to the plate and smashed a ball down the left field line for a double.
In the seventh, Naioki Marion reached on an error to start the inning. Gojkovich and Hawkinson then both walked to load the bases, but Booth struck out the final two batters to end the game.
”They had to make some plays,” Cermak said.
“We were putting the ball in play, we were hitting the ball hard, we were confident in the box and that was really all we could do.”
Puyallup 3, South Kitsap 1
WP: Booth LP: Cermak
Puyallup 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 3 6 1
S. Kitsap 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 1 3 2
Puyallup — Booth 7 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
South Kitsap — Cermak 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
Puyallup — Ellingson 3-4, 2 2B, 2 SB; Bjerk 1-3, 2B, R; Booth 1-2, BB, R; Ditty 1-3, BB.
South Kitsap — Hawkinson 1-2, 2B, RBI; Gojkovich 1-1, 2 BB, R; Wolf 1-3; Johnston 1-3.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@ soundpublishing.com.