Out of Write Field
Making sense of the ever-changing South Kitsap sports landscape.
TACOMA — The late-running wrestling regionals prevented us from seeing much of South Kitsap’s 71-64 win against Evergreen (Vancouver) during Saturday’s loser-out game at Mount Tahoma in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament.
But John Callaghan attributed much his team’s success to the execution of their 1-3-1 defense that was designed to keep the much-taller Plainsmen from dominating inside.
“We played smart,” Callaghan said. “That is the best defense we have played. I’m so proud of the way our guys played.”
He praised the ability of 6-6 sophomore Isaiah Lewis to stay out of foul trouble during the second half. Callaghan also was pleased with 6-2 senior Logan Knowles’ ability to contain taller players in the post when Lewis accumulated three first-half fouls.
The result means South (16-7) will play another loser-out game at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday against Federal Way at Auburn. If the Wolves win that game they will need to win one more district contest to advance to regionals for a second straight season.
Countless coaches spoke about their teams beginning two wins away from state for years when they advanced to the West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament. But the math is not quite that simple these days. Teams still can qualify for regionals if they win their first two games. Otherwise, it becomes a little more complicated as the brackets show.
South Kitsap’s boys team has an easier route to advance to regionals for a second consecutive season than the girls team by virtue of opening at home at 7 tonight against Puyallup. Meanwhile, the Wolves’ girls team travels to Puyallup. A victory in the opener for the boys team means they play the winner of Evergreen (Vancouver) vs. Kentridge at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Auburn. If the Wolves win that game, they would clinch a regional berth and not play again until 7:45 p.m. Thursday at Auburn for seeding purposes. But any losses make that course much more difficult to navigate. If South loses either of its first two playoff games, it must survive multiple loser-out games in a quest to earn the district’s seventh seed.
The Wolves’ girls team faces a similar path to districts. If they beat Puyallup, South plays the winner of Emerald Ridge/Skyview at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup. The team that wins that game returns Thursday to Puyallup for a seeding game. But as with the boys, any loses during the first two games makes the path toward regionals difficult.
Jason Hammel, a 2000 South Kitsap graduate, signed a one-year, $6 million contract Friday with the Chicago Cubs.
ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted Saturday that the short contract could be related to concerns about Hammel’s elbow.
After garnering all-star game consideration when he finished with an 8-6 record and 3.43 ERA in 2012, Hammel regressed last year. He finished with a 7-8 record and 4.97 ERA. His strikeout ratio per nine innings also fell from a career-best 8.6 in 2012 to 6.2.
The Cubs mark Hammel’s fourth organization since he was drafted in the 10th round by Tampa Bay in 2010. In addition to Tampa Bay and Baltimore, where he pitched the last two seasons, Hammel also has played for Colorado.
In eight major-league seasons, Hammel has posted a 49-59 record with a 4.80 ERA.
Just got off the phone with Central Kitsap athletic director Bill Baxter, who said the Cougars will not petition to remain in the Class 4A Narrows League next fall.
Baxter said the decision was difficult because of CK’s longstanding ties to 4A Narrows. The school has competed in the state’s largest classification, which formerly was known as AAA, since 1989-90. The Cougars then moved to 4A when that classification was added in 1997.
“I’m going to miss playing those league games with South Kitsap, Olympia and Bellarmine because they made us a better team,” said Baxter, adding that it was his preference to remain in that league and he hopes to schedule nonleague games against those programs.
But he said that desire was outweighed by the prospect of competing in the eight-team 3A Narrows, which officially will add Capital from the Evergreen Conference. With eight teams, Baxter believes the league will be in line for more playoff berths. In addition to those schools, 3A Narrows will include Foss, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, North Thurston, Shelton and Wilson. Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor, Olympia, South Kitsap, Stadium, Timberline and Yelm will compete in 4A Narrows.
The WIAA reclassifies schools every two years based on enrollment to avoid imbalances. Schools with the top 16 to 17 percent enrollment, such as South, are recognized as 4A.
I just spoke with South Kitsap athletic director Ed Santos who said the Narrows League configuration for 2014-16 could remain in flux until 5 p.m. today, which is the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s deadline for schools to elect to compete in a larger classification.
As of now, Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor, Olympia, South Kitsap, Stadium, Timberline and Yelm would comprise 4A Narrows, while Central Kitsap, Foss, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, North Thurston, Shelton and Wilson would compete in 3A Narrows. According to Santos, CK officials would prefer to remain in 4A Narrows, but if the Cougars elect to play in that league they would knock Stadium, which is the smallest 4A school that has not “opted up,” down to 3A.
Santos, who co-chairs the Narrows League realignment committee with South principal Jerry Holsten, said Capital could join 3A Narrows, but that school also could remain at the 2A level if another program opts up.
South Kitsap graduate Willie Bloomquist has reached an agreement to return to the Seattle Mariners, according to several sources.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Bloomquist will sign a two-year, $5 million contract with the Mariners. He originally was drafted by Seattle in 1999 out of Arizona State and played with the Mariners from 2002-08. Since leaving Seattle, Bloomquist has played for Kansas City, Cincinnati and Arizona. In 48 games last season with the Diamondbacks, Bloomquist hit .317 and had a .360 on-base percentage.
Bloomquist, who has played second base, shortstop, third base and outfield in recent years, figures to serve as a backup in a youthful Mariners infield. Kyle Seager and Brad Miller are entrenched as the starters at third base and shortstop, respectively, while Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin are expected to compete for the job at second base unless one is traded.
Outfielder Aaron Cunningham, a 2004 South Kitsap graduate, signed a minor-league contract Tuesday with the Chicago Cubs, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.
Cunningham, 27, spent last season in Round Rock, which is Texas’ Triple-A affiliate, and hit .247 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI. The right-handed Cunningham always has been a disciplined hitter and that continued last season as he drew 50 walks in 486 plate appearances.
This marks the seventh organization Cunningham has joined since he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox in 2005. Cunningham last played in the major leagues in 2012, when he hit .175 in 72 games with Cleveland.
South Kitsap, which did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2010, will play a Narrows League crossover game at 7 p.m. Friday against Foss at Mount Tahoma High School to close out its season. The Wolves (3-6) have not played the Falcons (6-3) since 2008. That game was memorable because Foss was on the verge of earning its first win against South since 1979 before running back Sean Allison broke a 68-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds remaining. The score gave the Wolves a 29-26 win.
Here is a glance at how the playoff picture is shaping up for South Kitsap’s athletic programs:
One South runner, Mason Villarma, will compete at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Westside Classic District meet at Lakewood’s American Lake Veterans Golf Course in hopes of earning a berth to the Nov. 9 state championships at Pasco’s Sun Willows Golf Course.
The Wolves must defeat Central Kitsap by at least eight points tonight and have Yelm upset Olympia to earn a spot in the Class 4A state play-in game. Otherwise, they will play in a nonleague game against a 3A Narrows team next week to close out their season. South athletic director Ed Santos said the opponent probably would be Foss or North Thurston.
South either will be the third or fourth seed out of 4A Narrows. That means the Wolves, who must win twice in the West Central District Tournament to advance to the state playoffs, will play Thursday at Curtis High School. If South secures the league’s third seed, it will play at 5 p.m. against 4A South Puget Sound League South Division’s No. 3 team. If the Wolves are 4A Narrows’ No. 4, they play SPSL South’s second seed at 7 p.m.
The Wolves’ Zoe Desmet won the 100-yard freestyle during last week’s 4A Narrows League championships and advances to compete at today’s and Saturday’s West Central District meet. Events begin at 4:30 p.m. both days at Curtis.
South must win twice during Saturday’s 4A Narrows League Tournament to advance to districts. Its first match is at 10 a.m. against Central Kitsap at Mount Tahoma High School.
Along with the game-time change for South Kitsap’s Saturday game at Olympia, which now is set for 3 p.m. because of SAT conflicts, another interesting revelation came out of the Wolves’ 31-0 loss Friday against Bellarmine Prep. Coach Eric Canton confirmed afterward that the Class 4A Narrows League only will receive three berths to the state play-in game. That is one fewer than last year.
It is a change that could have significant ramifications for the Wolves.
In 2012, South claimed the league’s fourth playoff spot with a 3-3 record in 4A Narrows play. Given that scenario, the Wolves might have been able to entertain playoff prospects even with a loss Saturday. That is because they likely will be favored in their two remaining league games this month, Oct. 11 against Yelm and Oct. 25 at Stadium, before concluding the regular season Nov. 1 at home against Central Kitsap.
But now that South has lost its first two league games, it will have to win its final four league contests to make the playoffs. Otherwise, the Wolves will finish the season outside of the playoffs for the first time since 2010. In that scenario, South will play a crossover game against a 3A Narrows school.
Athletic director Ed Santos said the crossover likely will be a road game because the Wolves have five home contests this season. In addition, he said South probably would compete against a team that has similar ability and one that it has not played lately. But the latter factor is not significant for the Wolves as the only team they play from 3A Narrows during the regular season, Oct. 18 against Lincoln, is likely to win the league championship. That seems to leave Foss, North Thurston, Shelton and Timberline as the most likely opponents for South.