The Cougars are coming on stronger in the second half of the SSC season
EAST BREMERTON — Megan Weber and her Central Kitsap teammates would like think they turned a corner and put their slow start behind them after picking up a couple wins last week.
The Cougars continued their improved play with another strong effort Wednesday, rallying to beat the Capital Cougars 8-4 in a South Sound Conference softball game under the lights at Gene Lobe Fields at the Kitsap Fairgrounds.
“It really had a little bit of everything,” Weber, a senior catcher, said of the Cougars win. “We didn’t give up at all. We didn’t let those little moments get to us. We just played the game and made routine plays and had fun doing it.”
Central Kitsap started to turn its season around when it picked up its first win in the SSC 12-9 over North Thurston last week. CK followed with another win, this time against Peninsula 12-2 back at the Fairgrounds the following day.
CK coach Courtney Cotter said the team has grown a lot over the last few games and have come together as a team.
“The talent’s been there, it’s just the mental part,” she said of her young team that has just three seniors. “We’re still learning and … working through those speed bumps.”
It looked like Wednesday’s game was going to come down to small-ball play to get a run home as the game remained scoreless through three innings.
But in the bottom of the fourth Weber’s RBI single to right field, followed by a Tessa Jepsen run-scoring single, made it 2-0 CK. Capital, however, wasted little time as Aliya Jordan’s perfectly placed bunt scored a run and Jaye Guichelaar knocked in a two-run shot to right field to give Capital a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth. It appeared like the visiting Cougars started to figure out the pitching of Paris Agana as Capital added another run off a Savannah Johnson single up the middle for a 4-2 lead.
But unlike previous games, Central kept its composure, worked the pitch counts to their advantage in the bottom half of the inning and put pressure on Capital’s defense be perfect.
“That’s what we have to do,” Cotter said. “We have to continue to hit the ball hard because we’ve got the girls with power, all the way through the lineup everybody can do that.”
Agana legged out the throw to first off her bunt and then advanced to second on a bunt by Gabby Lazo. But the play didn’t end there. After getting Lazo at first, Capital tried to throw out Agana heading to third. The ball wound up going past the third baseman and Agana scrambled to her feet and slid home, beating the throw from the left fielder who had chased down the errant ball to cut Capital’s lead to 4-3.
Faith Schenk then hit an 0-2 ball hard to right-center field for a single. Gabby Story kept the hitting going when she followed with an RBI double to bring in Schenk for the tying run, 4-4. Annika Freund’s RBI single made it 5-4, Sydney Wallis reached on an error and Weber’s RBI double increased the lead to 6-4.
Jepsen brought in two more runners when her deep fly out to left field was dropped and she raced her way to third base as CK led 8-4. Capital brought in a new pitcher, Jaime Wiedemier, and she was able to work out of a jam to get the final two outs.
“Really awesome at-bats,” Coter said. “They didn’t quit on themselves and that was huge. That inning was awesome. It was fun to watch. It wasn’t like we were crushing the ball … they were quality at-bats.”
Agana then forced Capital’s hitters into groundouts or fly outs as she faced just seven batters in the top of the sixth and seventh to close out the game.
“Definitely at the beginning of the season our hitting just wasn’t coming together as we planned,” Weber said, adding the team has been putting in an extra effort in the batting cages to improve their at-bats and it’s showing up now.
“We’re happy with the results,” she said.
Central Kitsap shortstop Brooke Mimaki catches the ball as Capital's Savannah Johnson slides into second base during a South Sound Conference softball game against Capital at Gene Lobe Fields at the Fairgrounds Wednesday, April 17, 2019. Central Kitsap won 8-4.(Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
Central Kitsap shortstop Brooke Mimaki catches the ball as Capital's Savannah Johnson slides into second base during a South Sound Conference softball game against Capital at Gene Lobe Fields at the Fairgrounds Wednesday, April 17, 2019. Central Kitsap won 8-4. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)