SK thwarts Trojans with eight-run inning

Olympic shortstop Hope Hillman waits for the ball at second base as South Kitsap sophomore Alicia Cleaver tried to beat out the throw during the Wolves 12-4 Bridge Division fastpitch win on Wednesday. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Olympic shortstop Hope Hillman waits for the ball at second base as South Kitsap sophomore Alicia Cleaver tried to beat out the throw during the Wolves 12-4 Bridge Division fastpitch win on Wednesday.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

PORT ORCHARD — Melissa Ballard wasn’t surprised by her teammates’ failure to grasp the significance of the rally the South Kitsap High School fastpitch team pulled off against Olympic Wednesday afternoon.

Ballard, one of just two returning senior varsity players, said she was one of the few players on the team who realized the Wolves’ eight-run rally in the fifth inning came with two outs.

“(Chantal) Boddie was the first one up (to the plate) and then we looked around a little later and saw her again (at the plate),” Ballard said.

“Everyone kind of figured it out by then.”

With the score knotted at 4-4 after the fourth inning, SK found itself in position to manufacture the go-ahead run.

Boddie led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Brittany Miller. Heather Grinde reached base on an error, putting two runners on base with one out.

Amanda Galla followed with a popup for the second out of the inning.

Needing a base hit to break the logjam, Ballard responded with her third hit of the game — a single up the middle.

Stephanie Solarek followed with an RBI single to give SK a 6-4 lead.

Olympic appeared to have stopped the bleeding when SK’s Cathy Kniess hit a routine grounder to shortstop Hope Hilman.

But Hilman bobbled it, allowing another run to score.

Stephanie Mott made Olympic pay for its mistake with a scorching line drive down the right field line to score two more runs.

Savannah Starkweather followed with a single and Boddie ripped an RBI triple.

Miller added an RBI single to give SK a 12-4 lead before Grinde ended the inning with a groundout.

SK added two more runs in the sixth inning to end the game because of the 10-run rule.

Miller started the game on the mound but lasted just two innings. The sophomore had problems adjusting to the umpire’s small strike zone, but still managed to keep SK in the game.

Ballard came on in relief and finished with four strong scoreless innings.

While her prowess on the mound is no secret, Ballard has shown some extra pop in her bat this year.

One of her three hits against Olympic was a triple that would have had home run written all over it if she hadn’t pulled the ball.

Ballard said the strength in her hitting is because of the improving health of her right wrist.

The wrist still poses enough problems she must do her schoolwork on a computer, and she’s not allowed to pitch an entire game.

“It still swells up on me sometimes,” she said. “The doctors don’t really know what’s wrong with it. It’s getting better, though.”

Because she can’t pitch an entire game, Ballard said she prefers coming into the game in the later innings.

“I’d hate it if I started and I was on fire but then had to come out because I’m not allowed to finish the game,” she said. “When I come in for relief, I know it’s my game to finish.”

Offensively, Ballard said she loves the way the young Wolves are hitting the ball.

Though the division is in an early dogfight for the top spots, Ballard said she’s confident SK can come out on top.

“I think if our team realizes that we can hit and start relaxing we’ll do fine,” she said. “All the way through the lineup we have great hitting. It’s not like one half of the lineup is hitting and the other half isn’t. We’re strong one through nine.”

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