PORT ORCHARD — Much like their baseball counterparts, the South Kitsap fastpitch team will look markedly different this season.
The Wolves graduated seven seniors last year, including all three of their pitchers from last season’s 12-10 team (9-7 in the SPSL) that went to the district tournament last season.
But not to worry — the next crop of talent has arrived, and there is more on the way in the form of a strong eighth-grade class.
“We’ve really reloaded,” said head coach Paul Cermak, now in his second season at South Kitsap.
The team features four freshmen — Maya Nehus, Sarah Hoyt, Jessica Fessenden and Katie Bernardo, all part of the Diamond Dusters 2016 12U state championship team.
Kindra Hawkinson, Aspen Millet and Statia Cermak pitched every inning last year, so the Wolves will rely on some talented youngsters in the circle.
“This team definitely changed. All that senior pitching has been a big part of this team,” Cermak said.
The lineup is loaded with players who can make contact and get on base.
Middle infielders Teanna Lathum (second base) and Lynden Wolf (shortstop) hit .464 and .457, respectively. Outfielder Marisol Bergstrom hit .357 and led the 4A South Puget Sound League in stolen bases. Jordynn Lawrence, who batted .439 last season, will slot in at first base.
There may not be a ton of home run pop, but the team has plenty of speed to wreak havoc on the bases and put pressure on defenses. Naioki Marion will be one of South Kitsap’s biggest power threats. She hit .385 last season with a pair of round-trippers and 15 RBI.
The Wolves also return catcher Piper Jacquemart and sophomore infielder Kaitlynn Johnston. Myanna Henke, a Pacific College commit, will also see varsity time this year.
This should be a fun group to watch, both for its athleticism and speed, and to see how well this young team comes together over the first month of the season. The talent is certainly there for a return trip to the postseason.