Silverdale-area athletes among finest of fastpitch

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True to annual form, the Central Kitsap, Olympic and Klahowya fastpitch teams posted impressive seasons in 2009.

The Lady Cougars, who secured their first state-tournament victory since 2000 with a 6-0 win against Kamiakin in the first round of this year’s Class 4A state tournament, led the charge under coach Bruce Welling. CK secured a second-place finish at the 4A district tournament for the second time in as many years, with Pamona University-bound pitcher Carolyn Cross leading the way.

With all-around athlete Lexi Orteza anchoring a team that lost a few key ingredients from 2008 — Kelsey Anchors and Athena Rosario, most notably — Olympic advanced beyond the first day of district competition for the first time in school history. First-year coach Dusty Anchors helped the Lady Trojans right the ship after a somewhat shaky beginning to the 2009 campaign.

And Klahowya, a team that has now narrowly missed state for the past four seasons, found success thanks to college-bound players Kazandra Holliday (University of Central Florida) and Meika Bumbalough (Sterling Collge), both of whom put forth big-time seasons en route to a heartbreaking, season-ending 1-0 loss to Sequim in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest at the 2A district tournament.

Those efforts highlighted what was yet another impressive fastpitch season.

The 2009 All-Kitsap County Fastpitch Team was compiled by the sports writers for the North Kitsap Herald, Port Orchard Independent, Bremerton Patriot and Central Kitsap Reporter. Candidates for the team were nominated by the writers for their respective areas. The nominees were then voted on by the writers, with the top vote-getters making the teams. Honorable mentions also were selected from each school. The team includes the best players from area schools who not only performed well individually, but played a role in the success of their team as well.

The following is the 2009 All-Kitsap County Fastpitch Team:

P — Lindsay Willmann, senior, Bainbridge: A four-year starter who coach Liz McCloskey called “the battery of the team,” Willmann compiled a 13-4 record over 114 1/3 innings in 27 games, striking out 134 batters while walking just 24. She allowed 51 hits and only 13 earned runs, finishing with a 0.80 earned-run average. She threw a no-hitter, two one-hitters and didn’t allow an earned run in 26 innings in the Class 3A state fastpitch tournament, leading her team to a state title. Also potent at the plate, Willmann posted team-highs in home runs (three), RBI (29), batting average (.464), total bases (49) and slugging percentage (.710).

P — Carolyn Cross, senior, Central Kitsap: Few players have accomplished what Cross did in four years at Central Kitsap. A 4.0 gpa-student who completed 13 Advanced Placement courses, Cross compiled a 17-6 record in 141 2/3 innings. The right-hander, who will attend Pamona University next fall, threw 1,956 pitches — 72 percent for strikes — and struck out 132 batters to just 18 walks, seven of which were intentional. She also hit .404 to lead CK to a second-place finish at districts and its first Class 4A state-tournament victory since 2000.

P — Kazandra Holliday, senior, Klahowya: The University of Central Florida-bound Holliday was a threat on both sides of the ball, but it was her right arm and six-pitch repertoire that carried Klahowya to within one game of the Class 2A state fastpitch tournament. Holliday, who graduates as the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts with 661, posted a 10-5 record during the regular season to go with three shutouts and 180 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched. Offensively her regular-season numbers included two home runs and 13 RBI.

Co-C — Katie Hanten, senior, Central Kitsap; Brittany Wisner, senior, Bainbridge: Any coach would love one of these catchers, let alone both, in their lineup. Hanten, who possesses arguably the strongest throwing arm of any catcher in Kitsap, hit .318 with five RBI and 12 runs to go with a .470 on-base percentage. Wisner, meanwhile, was the heart and soul of the state-champion Spartans. A four-year starter, Wisner contributed 14 RBI and five doubles and scored 15 runs.

1B — Meika Bumbalough, senior, Klahowya: Bumbalough, who next season will take her game to Sterling College in Kansas, was a team captain and hit team-best .500 to go with two home runs and 21 RBI. She also saw action as shortstop, but her best position — the one she’ll play in college — is first base.

2B — Erin Curtis, senior, Central Kitsap: Not only did Curtis post impressive numbers on the field with a .414 batting average, six RBI and a .713 on-base percentage — she didn’t strike out once the entire season, either — but she did it as the school’s co-valedictorian, maintaining a 4.0 gpa while completing 17 AP classes. Coach Bruce Welling called her the team’s strongest defensive infielder.

SS — Haylee Baker, junior, Bainbridge: There is no better success story than that of Baker’s. The junior overcame a broken neck stemming from a car accident last year to post a .340 average, 13 runs, a home run and 15 RBI in little more than half the season.

3B — Jenna Bartlett, sophomore, Central Kitsap: Widely recognized as a gritty, physical player, Bartlett hit .325 with 14 RBI and a team-high three home runs. She also finished with a .590 on-base percentage, scoring 10 runs.

OF — Clara Dunn, sophomore, Bainbridge: A run-scoring machine, Dunn crossed the plate an area-high 32 times thanks to a .406 batting average that included six doubles and two triples. She walked a team-high 15 times, equating to a .519 on-base percentage, and she knocked in 11 RBI.

OF — Naomi Stocks, junior, Central Kitsap: No Central Kitsap player hit better than Stocks, who finished with a .460 batting average to go with 12 RBI, 15 runs and 5 doubles.

OF — Cortney Echternach, senior, South Kitsap: The Wolves’ leadoff hitter, Echternach set the table all season long by fashioning a .711 on-base percentage. Her batting average was a modest .263 on 10 hits in 38 at-bats, but she reached base a total of 27 times, coaxing 15 walks from opposing pitchers. All the while, she played stellar defense in the Wolves’ outfield.

UTIL — Lexi Orteza, senior, Olympic: Perhaps the scrappiest player on the Lady Trojan team, Orteza, who throws from the right side but bats from the left, is a true utility player. Primarily a third baseman this season, Orteza finished with a .500 batting average in 64 plate appearances, scoring 18 runs to go with 11 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .594 slugging percentage.

UTIL - Jordan Chargualaf, senior, North Kitsap: Chargualaf, primarily a third baseman and pitcher, was one of the most reliable pieces of the Viking offense this season. In 46 at-bats, she logged a .413 average, a .481 on-base percentage, and a .739 slugging percentage. Chargualaf filled out her offensive stats with seven doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI.

UTIL — Megan Ransier, sophomore, South Kitsap: South Kitsap coach Kathy Ballew hasn’t struggled to find talented catchers in recent years. Whitworth University’s Caty Lieseke held the position two years ago, while Trish Tremper capably filled the position last year. This year, it was the versatile Ransier, who easily led the Wolves with a .523 batting average during the regular season. She also had eight doubles and a team-high five triples.

Coach of the Year — Liz McCloskey, Bainbridge: After coming up short in consecutive state-tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008, the fifth-year coach pushed the Spartans over the hump to a state championship. Bainbridge, which finished 23-4, defeated Kennedy, Union, Enumclaw and Holy Names en route to the title, its first in school history.

Honorable mentions

Paige Antuna, Klahowya; Bridjette Box, South Kitsap; Sarah Buskirk, Central Kitsap; Emily Cunningham, South Kitsap; Morgan Eurazzaga, Klahowya; Julie Fergus, Central Kitsap; Ally Johnson, South Kitsap; Chelsie Kakela, Bainbridge; Jessica Klump, Olympic; Hannah Knight, Kingston; Caitlin McCormick, Bainbridge; Jenneke Oostman, North Kitsap; Lauren Reichert, Bainbridge; Miranda Sanderson, Olympic; Courtney Snellenberg, Klahowya; Kelsey Strickland, Olympic; Jordan Tapp, Kingston; Cara Thompson, Bainbridge; and Hailey Willmann, Bainbridge.

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