Unidentified and undefeated softballers invade Silverdale softball.

Carolyn Cross winds up to toss the ball over to Brannen Jennings during the UFO’s practice Tuesday, June 18, in Silverdale. - Photo by Sean Lamphere
Carolyn Cross winds up to toss the ball over to Brannen Jennings during the UFO’s practice Tuesday, June 18, in Silverdale.
— image credit: Photo by Sean Lamphere

They’ve grown from fastpitch neophytes to could-be contenders to having a pretty good shot at taking a state title — and they’re only in elementary school.

They’re the Silverdale UFOs, a three-year-old 10U squad that has vaporized their opposition both in and out of the Silverdale Girls Fastpitch Association this year with a perfect 24-0 record.

“Nobody knew us a couple of years ago but they sure do now,” said Jim Woolford, who’s guided the UFOs (a name picked by the girls) since their inception.

Last weekend the girls won the Kitsap Peninsula Championship by defeating the South Kitsap Tigers 9-0. During the tournament, the UFOs outscored their five foes 37-3.

The roots to the team’s success go back to last season after the girls placed third at a state championship tournament.

“After that tournament, the girls got a taste for success,” Woolford said. “So they decided on their own that they wanted to raise the bar and not just be a recreation-type team anymore.”

So when most teams were still hibernating, the UFOs started practicing their fundamentals in January inside the Fairview Junior High School gym. Hours of running infield drills fine-tuned the UFO defense before their opposition even had their first practice of Spring.

All that practice has paid dividends as the girls are favorites in the Summer Sizzle today and tomorrow at Lions Field in East Bremerton. They follow that up with the United States Softball Association State Championship June 28-30 at Pendergast Regional Park in West Bremerton and the American Softball Association (ASA) State Championship July 5-7 in Centralia. And they are already making plans to be in Oregon July 21-23 for the ASA National Regional Tournament.

With a group of Cougar Valley Elementary girls at its core, the remainder of the team was filled in by the association.

“There’s three girls on our roster that never played fastpitch before this year,” Woolford said. “All of these girls are homegrown and if we can keep this team together, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Giving the team another advantage is having a pair of aces to put on the mound. Caroyln Cross leads the team with 14 wins while teammate Brannen Jennings has 10 wins.

“It’s nice to have several girls on the team who can pitch,” Woolford said.

And good pitching always beats good hitting and demolishes poor hitters. Cross and Jennings have combined to throw a dozen shutouts where their opponents never made it from third base to home plate. Last weekend the pair only gave up eight hits.

Cross, now in her third season on the mound, said she’s a strike-out pitcher who has gotten “a lot better this year.

“Fastpitch is really fun because I’m good at it and all my friends are on the team,” said the golden-haired, golden-armed girl.

The UFOs also can tear down an opposing pitcher as witnessed last weekend as Julie Fergus and Cross each bashed seven hits.

“They’re all really good hitters,” Woolford said. “We’ve played a couple games that were 2-1 but then there’s the ones where we’ve been up 18-0 (twice). But we play every game as a team and that’s what’s important.”

What’s refreshing about the UFOs is that statistics don’t really matter either to the players or their parents. Having outscored their opponents 250-15 over the season isn’t as important to the girls as is hitting a bucket on home plate from deep in the infield come the end of practice to take a dollar from Woolford or another of the team’s four coaches.

Cross, who will be entering the sixth grade come September, was surprised to learn on Tuesday, June 18, that her pitching record was a perfect 14-0.

Her batterymate Erin Curtis, also a Cougar Valley student, likes being the catcher for the simple joy of “throwing people out” though she’s not happy about the fact she gets hit in the head a lot by swinging bats and flying balls.

And none of the girls or their parents could say what batting average they had or how many runs they’ve scored — a stark contrast from select teams where statistics are more closely watched than Nevada’s Area 51.

All they know is that they’re having fun.

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