The Vikings had already clinched the Olympic League title before Wednesday's game
POULSBO — The last time North Kitsap played Sequim, the Wolves earned a 9-8 win on April 15.
At that point in the Olympic League softball season, North was one of four teams with a shot at winning the league title as Port Angeles, Sequim and Olympic were all in the mix.
Fast forward to Wednesday and the Vikings hosted Sequim on senior day having already clinched the league championship. The outcome, however, remained the same as their first meeting as Sequim beat the Vikings 8-3.
The pre-game feting of North’s seven seniors led to a sluggish offensive start for the Vikings who never found their offensive rhythm against Sequim’s freshman pitcher LeeAnn Raney. Raney pitched a complete game, giving up just six hits, struck out seven and had four walks for the win.
Shortstop Iyreland Lawson was the most productive player at the plate for North. The senior was 3-of-4 with a double and run scored.
“Iyreland had a great game,” NK coach Jamie Smaaladen said. “She’s really come alive with her bat. She’s always really consistent on defense, and she’s just a solid player.”
Lawson added it’s all about clutch hitting at this point of the season.
“For me, it’s all about what I can do to help my team,” she said. “So it’s setting up the next base runner … and just getting on base so that everyone else can have a good time too.”
Despite the loss, the Vikings accomplished their goal of winning the league and gaining the No. 1 seed to the West Central District tournament, May 17-18 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. North has a scheduled non-league game against 3A Central Kitsap Friday and will schedule another game as they await the playoffs.
Smaaladen said the Vikings didn’t let off the gas against Sequim, knowing they already clinched the No. 1 seed, but they could have played with more intensity.
“The girls wanted (to win) because it was their senior night,” she said, “but at the same time I think if they would have thought this was the league game then they would have played harder.”
Sequim struck first in the top of the second inning as Raney lofted a two-run home run to center field to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
North answered right back in the bottom half of the inning as Lawson singled and then stole home on an error by the catcher to cut the lead to 2-1. Alicia Goetz then bunted down the first-base line that allowed Brianna Hoffman, who had reached on a walk, to score on the squeeze play to tie the game at 2-2.
From that point on, Raney was solid and North’s ‘small-ball’ offense wasn’t enough to get runs home. Raney capped a four-run third inning with a two-RBI single made it 6-2. The Wolves tacked on another couple of runs before NK added its final run on a RBI single by Genevieve Keller in the bottom of the sixth for the final score.
The Vikings are hoping to use the time off to recover from injuries and coach the junior varsity players who have been called up for the playoffs.
Lawson said North’s lack of focus got the better of them against the Wolves but they’ll fix that hiccup before district begins.
Senior catcher Lamara Villiard said North has a tendency to play at a higher level against quality teams and they expect to see plenty of that at district.
“I think we’re definitely ready,” she said. “I think tonight, like Iyreland said, focus got the better of us. Not sad, but reminiscing the last time we’re going to be on this field all together. We definitely weren’t ‘in it’ as we normally are (but) I’m ready. I think we’re ready for districts.”
North Kitsap's Grace Ibarra, left, Lamara Villiard, standing center, and Sarah Smith, right, cheer from the dugout during an Olympic League softball game against Sequim Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo. Sequim won 8-3.(Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)
North Kitsap's Grace Ibarra, left, Lamara Villiard, standing center, and Sarah Smith, right, cheer from the dugout during an Olympic League softball game against Sequim Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo. Sequim won 8-3. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)