POULSBO — In the words of one of the team’s captains, Kendall Peiguss, the upcoming season for North Kitsap Viking fastpitch is both an end and a beginning.
In the dugout, 2007 marks the end of former head coach Dan Kolda’s tenure and the beginning of Bill Hobaugh’s reemergence. It will also be the final year for a combined North Kitsap squad, but it’s the beginning for the underclassmen cadre of the team.
Despite being led by only four seniors — Josie Ball, Krishelle Welsh, Sara Mathiesen and Laurel Patton — North is poised to hit the diamond with experience. It will begin hosting by Bainbridge March 13.
Nearly half of NK’s varsity players have been to the state tournament as the Vikings have captured seventh place twice in Tacoma during the past two years.
“We want that again, we know how it feels to play with the best teams in Washington and we want it again,” junior outfielder Jordan Jewitt said Monday. “We’ve got to take it one pitch at a time instead of one game at a time.”
It’s the mental focus, preparation and determination which will be the fuel that can lead North back to state, players agree.
While their foundation is sound, the test for the Vikings will be consistently making the best of it when the time for clutch plays arrives.
“These girls are competitive,” Hobaugh said. “You can see it in their game faces … that’s going to be a plus. Pitching is going to be the big thing.”
The team has several position players — four of seven — returning but at the rubber and behind the plate the Vikings will see some new faces.
Peiguss — a junior who missed last year after fracturing her wrist in the second game of the season — will be back, eyeing time on the mound along with sophomore Jenneke Oostman, who is one of the first natural pitchers North has had in the past two years.
“Jenneka (Oostman) is a good surprise … her mental toughness, its almost like she doesn’t throw balls,” Hobaugh said. “And she’ll grow as the season goes as she gets the confidence and the game experience.”
She — and another sophomore making her debut at varsity Jordan Chargulaf — will also likely assimilate into the Viking team bond which makes the team so special.
“The thing about these girls is they know each other well, but their not cliquish,” Hogbaugh noted.
“We have a lot of good attitudes,” said Ball, the other of the team’s co-captains. “It’s reassuring to know that we’ve got the same girls and that same team chemistry.”
Also added to the mix this year are members of last year’s JV team which went 14-1 on the season scoring 177 runs, while allowing just 42. And though the building prestige of the NK program has already somewhat set the bar for the 2007 squad, the Vikings seem to be taking that demand in stride.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure, just desire,” Ball said.