Sports

CK softball slides safely into second place, state

Above, Central Kitsap pinch runner Britt Millerman slides safe into second after a delayed steal in the first game at districts on Friday. Below, CK’s Whitney Samora can’t field a ground ball and was charged with an error on the play. CK still won against Kentridge. - Jesse Beals/staff photos
Above, Central Kitsap pinch runner Britt Millerman slides safe into second after a delayed steal in the first game at districts on Friday. Below, CK’s Whitney Samora can’t field a ground ball and was charged with an error on the play. CK still won against Kentridge.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photos

CK wins three-of-four at districts on Cross’ arm.

TACOMA — Back in the Sweet 16 of 4A fastpitch, the Central Kitsap Cougars solidified a spot in the upcoming state tournament by winning three games in four tries at last weekend’s 4A West Central District III Tournament at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma.

Behind three consecutive complete-game shutouts by senior Carolyn Cross, the Cougars rolled past Kentridge (2-0), Emerald Ridge (1-0) and Wilson (1-0) en route to the championship game against Narrows League rival Stadium.

Stadium prevailed 4-1 in the title game.

“Our girls are very, very pleased, the coaches are pleased, the school is pleased,” coach Bruce Welling said. “Nobody expected us to do this well, except us.”

Entering districts as the Narrows League No. 3 seed, behind No. 1 Wilson and No. 2 Stadium, CK (17-5) used Cross’ solid pitching to derail three strong opponents.

“I bet all the girls from last year will be so proud of us,” Cross said, alluding to the graduating seniors of 2007.

Unblemished through 21 innings of work, Cross battled uncharacteristically warm weather, nearing 90 degrees on Saturday, to keep each game tied until the Cougar bats connected.

And while the offense scored only five runs in four games, it did just enough to eke out three wins.

Junior Katie Hanten knocked in the lone run of the Emerald Ridge game on a two-out single to left, while sophomore Whitney Samora knocked in one RBI in the opener against Kentridge. Junior Jayme Beckon notched the winning hit against Wilson, plating Hanten in the bottom of the seventh.

But Cross’ arm proved the difference.

“She’s pitching well,” Welling said following the Emerald Ridge win. “She’s gritty, determined, stubborn (and) intelligent.”

Welling rested Cross in the title game, giving sophomore Kim Chase the nod. And other than a four-run third inning, Chase shut down Stadium (19-2).

“She did an outstanding job,” Welling said.

As the Kentridge and Emerald Ridge victories guaranteed CK a berth to state, Welling emphasized the need to play well rather than win.

“I don’t care if we win (the district championship),” he said. “We need to play well.”

The second-place finish at districts means CK will be a No. 2 seed at state. The Cougars face Monroe at 9 a.m. Friday at South End Recreation Area in Tacoma (SERA), beginning their quest for a state championship.

A lofty order, the Cougars will have to crack the lock-down arm of senior Jordan Birch, Monroe’s ace. Birch, 15-3 entering district play, hadn’t allowed more than one earned run in a start this year. Each of her three losses came in games Monroe lost 1-0.

“They’re very, very good,” Welling said of Monroe (19-3), the 4A Northwest District champion. “If we play like we did (at districts), we’ll be OK.”

Citing the 9 a.m. start on what typically would be a school day, Welling said his players also will need to adjust their clocks for Friday’s game.

“Their clocks will be turned around,” he said. “It’s going to be the coaches job to get the team (mentally) prepared. Physically, they’ll be fine.”

If CK beats Monroe, they will face the winner of the Kentlake/Shadle Park game, also scheduled for 9 a.m. at SERA.

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