Sports

OC pounds Dolphins into submission

OC pitcher Brittany Wilkinson got a pair of complete-game victories against Shoreline on Tuesday as the Rangers rolled to 20-7 and 13-5 wins.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
OC pitcher Brittany Wilkinson got a pair of complete-game victories against Shoreline on Tuesday as the Rangers rolled to 20-7 and 13-5 wins.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Clay Blackwood was happy the Olympic Rangers’ bats heated up in time to wallop North Division rivals Shoreline. But that was about all he and the team were happy with in the 20-7 and 13-6 wins Tuesday.

“Yes and no,” Blackwoood said. “We didn’t play particularly well overall, intensity and stuff. Except we hit the snot out of the ball.”

That was evident in the numbers, as OC outhit the Dolphins (10-16, 8-10 in North Division play) 37-21.

While Blackwood said he was not impressed with the team’s effort in the wins, he knows his team will bounce back.

“We’re in good shape right now,” Blackwood said of his Rangers (14-13, 13-9). “But we have to continue winning.”

OC is now back above the .500 mark overall this season, in third place in the NWAACC’s North Division.

For Katie Robertson and Becky Hardison, the games were particularly memorable.

Robertson, a freshman outfielder out of South Kitsap, hit a pair of homers in the 20-7 win, going 4-5 on the day. Both homers were her first this season. A freshman first baseman out of Klahowya, Hardison’s though was even more special as she crushed a pinch-hit grand slam.

“That’s the first ever home run in her life,” Blackwood said. “She hit the ball hard. We just worked with her on her swing last week. That day before, we made a couple adjustments and it paid off. It was a laser beam too. No cheap home run.”

The bats were just fine on Tuesday on the whole, with Emily Cox going 6-8 with 4 doubles and a homer in the series. Central Kitsap grad Brittany Waldon also connected for a grand slam in the first game, going 5-9 overall. Brandie Jones, a sophomore out of Klahowya, also was huge, going 4-9 with homers in both contests.

And while the bats were alive Tuesday, Blackwood said he hopes the team can keep them hot against more stiff competition as the Rangers try to narrow the distance between them and North leaders Bellevue (22-4, 18-2) and Everett (25-7, 17-1).

“We’re not hitting better pitching right now,” Blackwood said. “I think they get a little tense against tougher competition. I just wish we could challenge the upper two. We did against Bellevue. I just wish we could continue to be in there with those teams.”

Freshman pitcher Brittany Wilkinson got the complete game wins in both contests. He said the combination of Wilkinson on the mound and Jones’ emerging defensive play have both been keys to the team’s success thus far.

“Brittany, she’s had to carry the load there,” Blackwood said. “Defensively, Brandie Jones has really come on at second base. She’s made some really good plays. And with the bat too. She’s been hitting the ball hard all year.”

With Cox and Robertson coming on offensively, Blackwoood said the team’s bats should continue to be an asset heading toward the postseason.

“Emily is really coming around with the bat,” Cox said. “We need her bat. It’s the same with Katie Robertson. She was struggling for a while but I think she’s found her stroke.”

The wins wrapped up a busy streak for the Rangers, completing eight games in seven days. Blackwood said he enjoys the streak in that it helps prepare the team for the busy postseason, but at the same time, that’s also why he doesn’t like it.

“In some senses it’s good,” Blackwood said. “With us, with only one pitcher it can hurt us. Brittany has got to throw every inning for us. She could get worn out. But I’ve always said, games are the best way to learn.”

As such, the team is getting ready to travel to Wenatchee for the annual cross over tournament. The tournament itself, however, has been changed, leaving the name as somewhat deceiving.

“Unfortunately it’s not a tournament this time,” Blackwood said. “We’re just playing four straight games. It’s a little disappointing.”

But that doesn’t mean the games won’t be without benefit.

“It’s gonna give us a chance to challenge ourselves,” Blackwood said. “It’s some good competition. We’re kid of resting up now for a few days. We’re kind of battered and bruised.”

But if OC can come out of the tournament all right, Blackwood believes his team can put a little more pressure on the division’s frontrunners.

“The little things are starting to happen,” he said.

The Rangers return home Tuesday for a 2 p.m. double header with Edmonds (0-18).

At the tournament, they’ll battle Grays Harbor, which they played to a rained out 3-3 tie earlier this season.

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