POULSBO — North Kitsap softball hasn’t scored a ton of runs in its first six contests of the season, but Viking pitchers haven’t given up a ton of runs, either, helping NK win quite a few close ball games. The Vikings sandwiched two losses between a couple small winning streaks.
The one they’re currently riding, a two-game winning streak, began with a 13-3 blowout over Vashon Island. So far, that’s the only time this year the Vikings have scored over six runs in a match. Most recently, the club clawed their way back into a game against North Mason.
They were down, but they weren’t out.
While Vikings pitcher Sarah Smith quieted North Mason hitters at the plate, her team came from behind with three late runs to win a close 3-2 ballgame.
Junior Makenzie Wagner eyed first base as she led off the bottom of the sixth inning. She quickly got there with a hard single. Naturally, head coach Jamie Smaaladen called for the sacrifice bunt, and sophomore Alayna Goulet laid down a beauty. Wagner came home on a fielder’s choice soon after.
With the first lead of the game, Smith was called upon to close out the game. Bulldogs freshman Kaylee Huffman was ahead in the count with three balls and one strike when she popped out.
The next batter, Jordan Sullivan, grounded one toward first base. Vikings Genevieve Keller almost gloved it, but the ball instead rolled under her and into right field. This gave North Mason a chance to take the lead right back.
That was until Smith caught a line drive and doubled up Sullivan, who was on the move toward second base, to end the game.
“It shows that if they just keep fighting, they can overcome,” Smaaladen said. “We definitely didn’t start out the game very well, but we’ve always told the girls if they just keep battling and stay in the game, it doesn’t really matter if you win or lose — but if you’re learning or growing all the time, that’s the key.”
For the first half of the game, it looked as if it was going to be the opposite. Viking batters went 1 for 11 in their first 12 at-bats whereas North Mason hit .500 in its first 12. Eventually, North Kitsap began to string together hits, leading to two runs in the fourth inning to tie it and one in the sixth to give them the lead.
In that crucial fourth inning, three batters picked up hits — two eventually moved up on errors while the other stole a base — and one batter walked. Two runs came around to score to tie the game.
“They’re a team that if they open up and attack the ball, they’ll get hits,” Smaaladen said. “But, if they’re in the box and get a little shy, then it won’t come through.”
While it wasn’t the cleanest game, fielders for both teams were aggressive, and some of that paid off on plays such as the sliding grab at shortstop by Wagner, a snow cone catch in right field by freshman Samantha Burgh and a tagout at the plate by junior Lamara Villiard.
“Today, we talked about failure,” Smaaladen said. “I told them, ‘If you fail, that’s when you’re going to succeed because you’re learning and pushing forward.’”
North Kitsap’s next game is scheduled after the district concludes its spring break. The Vikings visit Sequim for a 4:15 p.m. first pitch on April 10 in the first meeting of the year between the two teams.
— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JMooreKDN.