Fastpitchers look ahead after fine season

Filing out of the dugout early Friday evening after losing their second game at the state 3A fastpitch tournament at Tacoma’s South End Recreation Area, the Bainbridge Spartans were obviously disappointed that their stay wasn’t as long as they wanted it.

But Coach Steve Nelson looked at the upside as he contemplated the end of the season:

“It’s over, but it’s just the beginning.”

Bainbridge finished the season at 20-10, the best finish in school history and their first-ever fastpitch state tournament berth.

However, the Spartans’ appearance was short lived as they lost both their tournament games. They dropped the morning opener to North Mason 4-1, then were eliminated by Hanford in the consolation round 5-0 later in the day.

Despite the quick end, Nelson hopes it’s the first of many trips to the state championships.

“We played our best here,” he said afterwards. “We want to make it a regular habit of being here.”

“I thought it was a great experience,” said senior third baseman Angie Rapada. “It was a great experience for us and the underclassmen, for they will be well prepared for next year. It’s a great start for the program.”

Eight Spartan seniors – Rapada, Sarah Camiel, Lizzie Greene, Caiti Kruse, Chelsea Magraw, Amanda Perna, Bianca Quezeda, and Allison Vail – played their final game against Hanford, but Nelson is confident about next year.

“We have to be a little more patient,” he said. “We have a great group of kids next year.”

Both losses were marked by one significant factor – lack of hitting against dominant pitching. Against North Mason, the Spartans could only muster a pair of hits off pitcher Lisa Hill, one each from Perna and Ashley Anderson.

The team’s only run of the tournament came in the second inning when Rapada reached first base on a throwing error, allowing Perna to score from second base.

Against Hanford’s Meg Barker, they were shut out on two hits, one each by Alexis Hujar and Chrissy Haugen.

“This is the first time we saw quality pitching,” said Nelson. “We saw good pitching in our opener versus North Kitsap. But in the Metro League, the pitching is very average, with the exception of Ballard.”

He added, “Still, we should’ve been able to hit their pitching. We just came out flat. We had an emotional district, coming back to win four games. We showed up at state, and our emotions had run the cycle. We just didn’t have our ‘A’ game.”

Nonetheless, the Spartans stayed close in both games before finally succumbing. Against Hanford, a four-run sixth inning, combined with two errors, did them in.

“We played two good teams,” Nelson said. “North Mason is outstanding. We just didn’t hit, same thing with Hanford.”

The pitching of Sara Robinson kept them in contention in both games. “Sara did well in both games,” Nelson said. “For the first time at state, she did a good job.

“But even in districts, we made two or three errors. You can’t do that at state. Those kind of errors will kill you. Consequently, that’s what happened.”

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