Young Rangers grow up fast

Momentum is the story at Olympic College right now.

The women’s fastpitch team has picked it up at the right time and the young Rangers, barring a complete collapse, are prepared to ride it all the way to the NWAACC Tournament, May 17-19, at Delta Park in Portland.

OC extended its winning streak to six games by sweeping Peninsula, 6-4 and 8-4, in a Northern Division doubleheader at Lions Park on Sunday, April 27.

With 12 games left, including two at home against last-place Skagit Valley on Tuesday, April 30, Olympic (14-5 North, 18-11 overall) held a comfortable five-game lead over Bellevue (7-8) in the race for the final tournament spot and coach Natalie Martin wasn’t ready to concede anything to front-running Edmonds (11-0), Highline (15-1) or Green River (12-2).

For the baseball team, momentum has been as elusive as the number of hits and runs the Rangers have been generating of late.

Olympic managed just two hits while dropping a pair of 2-0 games at Bellevue on Sunday, April 27. The Rangers (3-14 NWAACC North, 8-19 overall) have lost six straight and are last in the six-team conference.


Coach Natalie Martin thought defense would be a strength for OC, and it has been.

“That’s four or five games in a row now where we’ve turned a double play,” Martin said after beating the Pirates. “We’re making plays all the way, everybody. ... As a team defense, this is one of the best we’ve had here.”

The Rangers hit .358 as a team through their first 17 games. They haven’t maintained that robust pace, but Martin’s pleased with their discipline at the plate and productivity.

“Every game, it’s somebody different,” Martin said. “There’s no place in our lineup where we’ve got a dead spot. It just doesn’t matter. Quite a few days, it’s been our 7-8-9 hitters in the order. They get three hits and we’re at the top of the order again.”

With Katie Leigh out with an injury, Aubrey Sumner’s the only returning sophomore.

Sumner, a Central Kitsap grad, was a right fielder a year ago, but has been holding down the center field spot this season.

“Out of necessity, we had to move her there,” Martin said. “She’s played so well. I have no plans to make any changes now.”

Sumner’s hitting in the mid-.300s and leads by example, Martin said.

“She does what she has to do,” the OC coach said.

Rebecca DeRusha, a hard-hitting third baseman from Central Kitsap, and Olympic High products Michelle Gutierrez, Kara Baumgartner and Jennifer Russell are among the freshman contributing to OC’s success. The speedy Gutierrez and Russell are outfielders and Baumgartner rotates in at catcher.

“These kids have been put in a position to grow up athletically and they’ve grown up tremendously,” Martin said, referring to her entire cast of first-year players.

The Rangers now have an opportunity to make up some ground against the division’s elite. OC plays doubleheaders at Green River (Friday, May 3), Highline (Saturday, May 4) and Edmonds (Monday, May 6).


The Rangers wasted two strong pitching efforts against Bellevue, which didn’t score an earned run in the opener against Jon D’Amore. D’Amore, sophomore from Port Angeles, allowed just two hits.

Jeff Berend, sophomore workhorse from Klahowya, absorbed another tough-luck loss after pitching nine strong innings in the second game. Berend (3-4) was second in the NWAACC in innings pitched (50 2/3) prior to Sunday.

OC’s scheduled to play a doubleheader at Everett on Saturday, May 4, and hosts Everett in a single game on Sunday, May 5, at Legion Field. The Rangers were trying to schedule a makeup home doubleheader against Edmonds for Thursday, May 2.

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