North Kitsap’s Sarah Smith had a dream of playing college softball.

That dream was realized this week when the Viking pitcher turned her verbal commitment into an official one to play at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Smith said she was initially contacted by Willamette coach Damien Williams when she was playing for her then-select travel team, the Washington Speed. 

“It’s actually been my first choice since my sophomore year,” said Smith, adding playing for a small school without big lecture halls and professors she can talk to was also a plus. “I think that was a huge deciding factor. It has a small, community feel to it.”

Sarah Smith, a senior at North Kitsap, committed to play softball for the Willamette Bearcats next season in Salem, Oregon.   (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Sarah Smith, a senior at North Kitsap, committed to play softball for the Willamette Bearcats next season in Salem, Oregon. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

The Division III Bearcats play in the Great Northwest Conference, along with Pacific University. Smith also visited Pacific this past fall but Smith “had my heart set on Willamette.”

It was at a fall camp, which committed players use as their official recruiting visit, that Smith was able to see first-hand what a student-athlete’s day-to-day life is like at Willamette. Smith stayed in the dorms with one of the softball players, attended classes and ate in the dining hall.

Smith said she’s undecided on a major, but knows she wants to minor in art as drawing is also a passion of hers.

Smith will begin her senior season of softball coming up in a couple of months and believes the Vikings can improve on their finish from a year ago. North finished third in the Olympic League (8-4, 16-10 overall), second at the district tournament and qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2005-06.

It was Smith’s performance on the mound during a crucial winner-to-state game at district that pushed the Vikings over the hump. Smith pitched an eight-inning shutout, giving up four hits in an upset of No. 1 White River, 1-0. 

Smith said the recent success speaks to the dedication and talent that has come through the county in the last few years giving Kitsap a resurgence in softball.

“I just think it’s crazy the improvement we’ve made,” she said. “Our goal to go to state was finally reached last year. Our goal this year is to climb even higher.”

North Kitsap pitcher Sarah Smith, right, gets a fist bump from catcher Lamara Villiard during the Vikings WCD game against White River, Friday, May 18, 2018, at the RAC in Lacey. NK won 1-0 in eight innings. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
North Kitsap pitcher Sarah Smith, right, gets a fist bump from catcher Lamara Villiard during the Vikings WCD game against White River, Friday, May 18, 2018, at the RAC in Lacey. NK won 1-0 in eight innings. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
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