Cougars go hot and cold at district fastpitch

"Last Friday, the Central Kitsap High School fastpitch team proved it could play one day of near-perfect softball.Then on Saturday, the Cougars got a reminder that the state tournament is a two-day affair.Flawless on Day One, luckless and sparkless on Day Two, the Cougs settled for fifth place in the massive West Central-Southwest district Class 4A tournament at Sprinker Rec Center. It was a finish that plopped them into the middle of the bracket for this weekend's state 4A championship set-to at Tacoma's South End Recreation Area, which will start for them at 9 a.m. Friday against Marysville-Pilchuck.Friday, Central shrugged off a rain delay to outplay Spanaway Lake 3-1 and Gig Harbor 6-0. But the going got tougher Saturday, as CK errors aided eventual runner-up Prairie in a 6-0 semifinal decision and plucky Olympia erased a 3-0 deficit to beat the Cougs 4-3 in an eight-inning placing game.It wasn't quite like watching two separate teams, but CK definitely tailed off from Friday - when it committed just one error in 14 innings behind powerhouse pitcher Jessica Cabato - to Saturday, when it had five miscues in one fatal inning against the Falcons in their semifinal.It doesn't take a mindreader to know which Cougars coach Bruce Welling would prefer to have show up at SERA this weekend.We played our best two games (Friday), against two good teams, Welling said. We hit the ball hard, we played good defense, we turned two double plays, including one infield double play, which is pretty rare. Jess was extremely focused, and just overpowered people.The next day, Welling could only point to all those errors, which opened the door to Prairie's six-run rally in the fifth inning.The tourney ended on a down note. The Cougars blew an early 3-0 lead, left leadoff runners stranded at third in both the sixth and seventh (when Jackie Miller and Tiffany Meyers each tripled) and allowed the Narrows League champions to score the tying run in the seventh and the winner in the eighth, when they bunched three of their seven hits.Ah, but what a Friday CK had. It played the role, after the rains relented and allowed the first round to be contested after a delay of more than three hours, of Juggernaut for A Day.Cabato struck out 12 in her two masterful Friday wins, and later called it the best I've pitched all season.I pitch better as I go along, said Cabato, who became a mother prior to the start of CK's spring turnouts and still is rounding into top form. I pitched the first game just because it was my turn, and then I think I got the second game just because I was going good.Welling confirmed that, saying, We were just going to go with Jess today. She's so strong, two games isn't a problem.But even Cabato - who'll go into the state tourney one win away form Tara Garner's school-record 42 career victories - couldn't bail the Cougars out against Olympia Saturday afternoon, when back-to-back seventh-inning singles by Kiersten Scrima and pitcher Cortney Maasjo drove in the tying run in the person of Lea Andrews, who was struck by a Cabato pitch to get aboard after two were out.Sophomore Jackie Miller - who absorbed the loss in Saturday's semifinal against Prairie - had a pair of triples and Aubrey Sumner two doubles as the Cougs muscled past Spanaway Lake. Miller's second trifecta, a towering shot to left field, drove in Tersha Brown for an insurance run in the fifth.Miller also had a big offensive game against Gig Harbor - the only team to beat the Cougars prior to the district tournament - going 3 for 4."

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