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Another Diamond Dust-up this weekend
"The Diamond Dusters just can't help but be their own worst enemies.Can they?The wildly successful Kitsap fastpitch softball program fields not one, but two highly competitive 16-and-under teams. The Gold team, coached by Dusters founder Dick Thompson, and the Red team, under the tutelage of Central Kitsap High School coach Bruce Welling, both are a threat to win just about any tournament they enter around the Puget Sound area during their far-flung summer season.When both enter the same tournament, though, only one can win. Last weekend, Welling's Reds beat Thompson's Golds twice for the National Softball Association's (NSA) state championship at Sedro Woolley. It could be a different story in this weekend's Amateur Softball Association (ASA) state tourney at Olympia. Or not.Both teams draw from the best players the Kitsap area. In some cases, both teams have players who were teammates during the high school season at Central Kitsap, or North Kitsap, or South Kitsap, or other local schools. In other instances, players who were rivals during the prep season wind up being on the same summer roster.Confusing?Not at all, said Dusters Red pitcher Jackie Quint, a junior at CK. But it's easier for me, because I have the same coach (Welling) both here and for my school team.Heather Case, who'll begin her high school career at North Kitsap as a sophomore in September, added that - at least for her - priorities are pretty easy to determine.Coming from junior high, I'd say the Diamond Dusters come first, she said. Their tryouts start in September, so it's like you're a Diamond Duster just about all year.The two girls both pitch and play infield for the Reds, who were a perfect 5-0 in NSA state tourney games last weekend (see Digest item below). They agreed there was nothing special about beating their Dusters peers, and cringed visibly at the mention of the R word - rivalry.When we play them, I try to look at it like its' any other team, she said.Quint pointed out that she has friends and CK teammates who just happen to be on the Gold roster.It's just fun to play against them, she said, to go out and play and see what happens. But it doesn't mean anything special if you win or lose.It's almost guaranteed to be a good game, though. Both the Red-Gold meetings during the NSA state playoffs were one-run decisions, 5-4 and 2-1. If the two teams should meet again in this weekend's ASA go-'round (which actually began last night and concludes Sunday afternoon) the decisions most likely would be just as close.You have fun, and you try to win, Case shrugged.Most of the Dusters' 16-and-unders have been with the same teams, and the same coaches, for several years. Case has played for Welling since they were 12-U, and the same holds true for many of Thompson's Gold players - including Quint's CK teammate and fellow pitcher, Sheena Stangler.Quint was slated to play for the since-defunct Kitsap Angels 18-U team. When she found herself facing free agency, she chose to join the Red roster and play for the high school coach she was used to.Crossovers happen, too. CK junior Nicole Zygmontowicz played for Thompson as a 14-U, but this year plays for her high school coach, Welling, on the Reds, where she also counts younger sister Emily as a teammate.The Reds draw their players almost exclusively from the area between and including the North and South Kitsap high school service areas. The Golds range a bit farther for their players, pulling from Gig Harbor, Edmonds and even Sumner (from where former Bremerton High School star Dominique Watson now commutes).If their 1-2 NSA state finish last weekend is any indication, it's a winning mix. And a lot less confusing than it seems. "