WCD losses end Cougars' state drive

"SPANAWAY - Bruce Welling was forced by circumstance to leave his prized limousine in the garage for more than a week. Friday, when Welling tried to rev the thing up, the characteristic throaty roar was replaced by a cough and a sputter.Now it's back in the garage.Welling's Central Kitsap High School fastpitch team won its first 19 games in a row this season. But back-to-back defeats at last weekend's Class 4A West Central District ended the Cougars' season with a three-game losing streak.Welling's team ended its regular season with a 2-1 upset loss to Olympic. Because of wet weather, the Cougs didn't get a chance to play a scheduled league tournament game, meaning they were idle for nine days leading up to the WCD tourney at Sprinker Recreation Center.They layoff didn't help, Welling said after his team gave up six unanswered runs and lost to Jefferson (3-2) and Battle Ground (3-0) to fall out of the district fray. We would've liked to play Tuesday (in the Olympic League tournament final, which was rained out). What we did was practice and practice. We got some good hitting, but you'd rather play. We were ready for games.You leave the car in the garage too long, and it's not gonna run very well, Welling said, cracking a smile in spite of the circumstances. It's gonna sputter for a while.The Cougars sputtered themselves right out of a chance to improve on last year's third-place finish in the state Class 4A championships this weekend at Tacoma. Only the top eight WCD finishers advance to state, and CK's 0-2 record left them well short of a state berth.Not every team goes into a season with expectations as weighty as those the Cougs carried this spring. With its No. 3 state trophy, its nine straight Olympic League titles and its opulent depth - including not just one or two, but three quality pitchers - Central Kitsap looked like a sure bet to be a state contender this weekend.Instead, they won't be allowed on the South End Recreation Area grounds unless they've first purchased tickets.This is a good club, Welling said of his forlorn team after its loss to Battle Ground left it with nothing to celebrate except outfielder Kendal Allman's 18th birthday. Our seniors probably haven't lost 10 games in their (high school) careers.Friday, they suffered through two losses in one awful afternoon. After edging out to a 2-0 lead in their opener against Jefferson, they gave up the tying runs in the sixth and the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh to drop into the elimination bracket. In that game, they out-hit Battle Ground 7-3, but never clicked enough offensively to post any runs.We left 10 runners out there (in the Jefferson game), Welling said. A hit here or a hit there, and the game's broken wide open. "

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