Vikings fastpitch season ends with heart-wrenching loss

TACOMA — On Wednesday the North Kitsap Vikings led their Narrows League Tournament loser-out game against the Foss Falcons the entire way, until the last inning.

TACOMA — On Wednesday the North Kitsap Vikings led their Narrows League Tournament loser-out game against the Foss Falcons the entire way, until the last inning.

At the end of the third inning, the Vikes were up 3-0. The Vikes led 4-2 after the fourth, and spread their lead even wider, 5-2, after the close of the fifth inning.

Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Vikes led by one. But the Falcons scored two and pulled ahead, 6-5, to secure the win, while the Vikes witnessed their season come to an end.

“It was just a tough loss,” head coach Bill Hobaugh said. “It took the breath out of us.”

Hobaugh attributes the season-ender game to a few reasons, some of which occurred on Wednesday and some throughout the season.

He said the Vikings had one or two bad innings per game throughout the season and that was the deciding factor on Wednesday.

The Vikes had four walks, three errors and one mental error in the last two innings that resulted in Foss’ game-tying and winning run.

“We just walked too many girls and that was the Achilles’ heel,” Hobaugh said.

The Vikes’ bats couldn’t get the necessary hits when the team needed them.

“We’d get some runs and this was frustrating because we didn’t consistently score and you’ve got to do that,” Hobaugh said Thursday morning. “Yesterday that happened. We had the bases loaded twice and we flew out. We did not get the key hit when we needed it.”

North’s season started on a lull, as a lot of upperclassmen players and the entire junior varsity lineup transfered to Kingston High School during the split. This left North with a rather green team.

The few senior players paid the price, as the rookies spent the season learning the game.

“The youngness really shows up when the games start getting tough. We have to get mentally tough and they don’t even know what that means,” he said. “I feel sorry, really, for the seniors. We should have done it like other schools when they open up, and kept the seniors together.”

On Wednesday some of the newness showed in the later innings.

Neither team scored until the top of the third, as the Vikes plated three. NK’s Jenneke Oostman threw three strikeouts in the first three innings, while the team played solid defense, sans an error and the bats were alive.

Jordan Chargualaf and Oostman walked. Allie Marks hit a sacrifice bunt, but she hit it so well, she got a single to load the bases. Michelle Donahue hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Chargualaf. Lauryn Belvins hit a bunt that was good for a single to load the bases again. Courteny Coleman walked to bring home Oostman and next Heather Martin hit a “Texas Leaguer” that plated Marks.

“A real positive was that we bunted really well” Hobaugh said. “Every time we had a girl on first base we kept bunting the ball and it was excellent we just kept moving girls around.”

The game started to fall apart for the Vikings in the fourth inning. Oostman’s arm tired and she gave up two singles and two walks and Foss got on the board with two runs.

The Vikes retired the Falcons in order in the fifth, but couldn’t hold on for the sixth and seventh.

In the top of the sixth, North’s three batters all struck out and in the bottom of the inning North gave up three walks and an error. The Falcons scored two more runs.

Things continued to spiral downward in the seventh.

Foss loaded the bases with a walk, a North error and a single. The Vikings forced-out was at home, but that didn’t happen as North dropped the ball at the plate. The game was tied. The bases were still loaded.

Next Foss knocked a hard line drive to Ashley Tobin, who lunged and stopped the ball. But instead of throwing to home, Tobin threw to first. The game-winning run crossed the plate.

“Ashley is such an athlete, she just didn’t think about going home,” Hobaugh said.

The bus ride home was quite, and Hobaugh spent his time consoling the athletes.

Although the Vikes season ended premature of its hopes, and was full of challenges, it did boast a few high points.

“The biggest highlight for the season was seeing the girls improve,” Hobaugh said. “Seeing them improve was impressive.”