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BHS fastpitch ends turnaround season
The season is over, but for the Bremerton fastpitch team perhaps it’s the beginning of a new era.
The Lady Knights (3-13) wrapped up their winningest season in recent years on a bit of a down note with a 12-0 loss at Klahowya on Tuesday.
While the season-ending shutout wasn’t what BHS had hoped for, both coach Mike Chase and a core group of returning players have high hopes for 2010 and the years to come.
“We should keep the mindset we came out with because we were a lot more positive than last year, just the upbeat energy,” sophomore Alyssa Lillybridge said. “We’ve just got to keep working at it.”
Both that mindset and upbeat energy figure to be apparent next season because the Lady Knights lose just four seniors, first baseman Kayla Abernathy-Rose and catcher/pitcher Alma Magday being the biggest hits.
“They are both incredible leaders and good players,” Chase said.
But players such as Lillybridge and freshman pitcher Rachael Pratt, who emerged as a reliable starter, will return along with Chase to give the Lady Knights an identity, something the team has been searching for to no avail the past few seasons.
“I think we were more positive and we wanted to win,” said Carley Erickson, a freshman. “I think we stepped up better.”
For Chase, the challenges of inheriting a team that hadn’t won a game since 2005 were twofold; getting players to attend practice while also teaching them to play the game correctly. Expectations, Chase said, simply needed to be higher.
“I wasn’t around last year, but my goal was to start coaching like it’s a select team,” he said. “We made it an expectation to be (at practice). Once they are there, they can learn.”
The learning eventually translated to a victory March 27, when the team snapped a 64-game losing streak with a 16-3 win against Port Townsend. From there, BHS went on to beat PT once more and then rival Olympic, 7-4.
“After a couple games, I think everyone stepped up,” Pratt said. “The errors decreased a lot and we started to hit more. Just all around, we seemed to get better.”
With about two weeks left in the regular season, the Lady Knights were contending with Olympic and North Kitsap for the second and last Class 3A playoff spot out of the 3A/2A Olympic League. Those hopes were eventually dashed, with the team falling to Olympic 15-0 May 7 and NK 2-1 a day later.
Nonetheless, Chase appears to have instilled a new mentality, a winning mentality in which the players are beginning to believe.
“Everyone says, ‘Oh, Bremerton’s not very good.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t believe that. They can be good; they’re athletes, they just need to learn the game,’” Chase said. “I think they missed a lot of that in the past. They didn’t learn the game mentally.”
Added Pratt, “I think we played more as a team. We didn’t really depend on one person, in general. We all kind of worked well together.”
Chase said he’d like to see his players join summer leagues so they see more action on the field and continue to learn the game. With a handful of players around the Olympic League seeing year-round action, the gap in both talent and knowledge of the game is difficult to overcome for players who suit up only a few months each year.
“That would be the next step — get our girls involved in the summers,” Chase said. “That’s just the way it is; if you don’t play summer ball, you’re going to be behind.
“There’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time. The experience — it’s amazing the difference. These girls (select players) just know what to do, where we’re having to talk to (our players) consistently, teaching.”
BHS was never really in Tuesday’s game after falling behind 2-0 through the first inning and 4-0 through the second, facing Klahowya ace and select ball pitcher Kazandra Holliday, who struck out 14 batters and went 4-for-5 at the plate with two doubles and two RBI.
KSS added one run in the third, then exploded for five in the fourth to build a 10-0 lead. The Lady Knights finished with one hit, while KSS hacked 15.
Bremerton 000 000 0—0 1 3
at Klahowya 221 511 x—12 15 0
Pratt and Magday. Kazandra Holliday, Breanna Stanley (7) and Morgan Eurzarraga. W—Holliday. L—Pratt