POULSBO — They’re in.
With an 8-6 victory over Bremerton High School on Thursday, the Vikings softball team stamped their ticket to the postseason for the third consecutive year.
“It feels really good,” NK head coach Jamie Smaaladen said. “Now, if we can keep everyone healthy and going strong, we’ll be OK.”
It was all North Kitsap for six innings of the game. Pitcher Sarah Smith, who was still slightly recovering from the flu, dominated from the mound. At one point, she retired 10 batters in a row and 13 of 14.
“Last week, she was out with the flu, so she’s really tired,” Smaaladen said. “She went out there and did really well.”
That fatigue showed in the seventh inning. Other than the final score, everything changed in the final frame. The Knights sent 11 hitters to the plate, scoring all six of their runs on five hits. That doesn’t blend well with a couple errors, a walk and a hit batter.
But with two outs and the tying run on base, Bremerton’s Lissa Joiner attempted to swipe second, only to be thrown out to end the match.
Not to be overlooked, Bremerton pitcher Mia Falotico had excellent control in the circle. She gave up eight runs, but only five were earned due to seven errors in the field. She didn’t walk any batters and nearly recorded double-digit strikeouts — a recurring theme from the freshman throughout the season.
Viking hitters got to Falotico early with all eight runs coming in the first half of the ballgame. Leadoff hitter Alayna Goulet immediately doubled down the left-field line, setting the tone for a potential offensive inning. Junior Iyreland Lawson doubled a couple batters later to trade places with Goulet.
But Falotico didn’t back down. She struck out the side after a single scored the second run of the ballgame. North Kitsap plated four more to blow the game open in the second inning. That was spotlighted by a two-run double off the bat of Lamara Villiard. She nearly left the yard on that pitch.
Bremerton’s mistakes in the field and at the plate paired with some bad luck in the sixth inning. Trying to get anything going against a lights-out pitcher, senior Divinity Dodge lined a hard-hit ball to center field. Based on the noise the Knights dugout was making, it seemed the question was: how many bases would Dodge get?
Vikings center fielder Kelsey Johnston had other plans, though. The outfielder dove forward and gloved the ball as she went to the ground. Smaaladen penciling her in at center field paid off. Typically, Johnston plays in right field.
“She really would be a [regular] center fielder,” Smaaladen said. “But because we have such strong pitchers … so many balls do go to the right side.”
With the win, North Kitsap will finish third in league, just above Sequim. Although the Vikings have two more regular season games — at Kingston on Monday and at Bremerton on Wednesday — they’ll be going up against the sixth-best team from the South Puget Sound League at 10 a.m., May 18. That contest is scheduled to be played at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
North Kitsap 8, Bremerton 6
WP: Smith — LP: Falotico
BR 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 — 6 8 7
NK 2 4 2 0 0 0 x — 8 9 4
North Kitsap — Smith 7 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 11 K.
Bremerton — Falotico 6 IP, 8 R, 5 ER, 9 H, 0 BB, 9 K.
North Kitsap — Goetz 2-4, 2B, RBI, SB, 2 R; Lawson 1-3, 2B, HBP, RBI, 2 R; Villiard 2-2, 2B, 3 RBI, SB.
Bremerton — Falotico 3-4, RBI, R; Urrutia 0-3, RBI; Uhrich 0-3, RBI; Joiner 2-3, BB, RBI, R; Kruger 1-1, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, R.