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Lady Cougs make big dance
TACOMA When Central Kitsap pitcher Carolyn Cross put the finishing touches on a 2-0 shutout against Kentwood Friday, the Cougar dugout let out a collective sigh of relief.
For the first time since 2000, Central Kitsap is going to state.
Im so happy were going, CK catcher Amy Renfrow said. It only took two years.
Were not used to this, pitcher/first baseman Erika Quint added. Usually wed be crying. But were happy. Everyone wanted it. Its really nice. I dont even know what to say.
The Cougars jumped all over Jefferson in a 6-1 win to open the 4A West Central District Tournament at Sprinker Recreation Area over the weekend, topping Kentwood to assure the Cougars of a state berth. And while the Cougs (19-5) fell 2-0 to unbeaten Kentlake and 3-1 to Graham Kapowsin, the team was still elated to enter as the districts No. 6 seed.
Finally, Renfrow said. Since we were mainly used to losing on the first day at districts, its good to win our first two.
The past two seasons, CK came into districts with high hopes, only to exit the tourney painstaking close to advancing. As a result, Welling said the look on his players faces said it all.
Look at em, Welling said. Theyre excited. It feels good. For the school, the kids, the coaching staff. Its an all-around good feeling.
Cross and Quint both pitched well for the Cougars, and CK got offense and stellar defense from across the board. For example, Cross fired the shutout against Kentwood. Against Kentlake, Quint went the distance with a single, two-run homer accounting for the difference between the squads.
Defensively, Brittney Romano flashed her range in center field on a great catch against Graham Kapowsin. Kendall Sours single-handedly retired the side in the fourth inning against Kentwood. And Renfrow crushed the two-run homer that would become the game winner in the same contest.
Those are just a small sample of the plays, and players, that elevated CK back to the states premier tournament.
Every one of em contributed, Welling said. What else can you ask for?
On her shot, Refrow said she had no idea it was headed to the gap it found in left field.
I didnt know when I first hit it, she said. I didnt even feel it. I wasnt sure where it was going.
But Quint knew.
I was looking toward home before she even rounded, Quint said. I knew itd be a home run.
As a result, CK begins state play Friday at 11 a.m. in a first-round contest against Lake Stevens at the South End Recreation Area (SERA) fields in Tacoma.
Welling said he hopes the team comes out with the same feeling it had at districts against Kentwood.
We have some good seniors leading the way, Welling said. That was the type of game where the feeling was, Theyre not going to win. Were gonna win. We knew what we needed to do and didnt beat ourselves.
That will be the key to victory again, the coach said.
We dont play Lake Stevens on Friday, we play CK Friday, Welling said. If we dont let CK beat us, Lake Stevens wont beat us.
Central Kitsap was the only Narrows League team to win its first-round game, and one of just two Narrows teams to advance to state.
While Welling likes that his players represent the Narrows League well, he knows thats not their priority.
I care about the league, but I want our girls to represent themselves, he said. They played two games against themselves and they won both against themselves.
During the league and district tournaments, Welling used a combination of Cross and Quint in the games, with both getting to finish if they were pitching strong.
Welling said since the approach has worked well for him in the past, and with the arms readily available, hell probably turn to it once again.
We did this when Erika was a sophomore with Tiffany Henry, he said. We did this quite often. Were gonna use the same thing this week. It saves arms and changes things up too.
But before CK gets to the next level, Quint said the Cougars are going to enjoy simply advancing to the states premier tournament a little longer.
It feels really good, she said. Its about time.