Community Sports

Sports Beat | Gig Harbor rallies for key league fastpitch win

Posted on April 25th, 2024 By:

The Gig Harbor (7-6, 6-2 South Sound Conference) girls fastpitch team did it again, as they came up with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over River Ridge on April 22. The 7-6 win keeps Gig Harbor in the hunt for a league championship.

The Tides were behind most of the game, but excellent relief pitching from Danielle Biehl and some timely hits kept the game within striking distance.

Down two runs early, the Tides got on the board with doubles from Biehl and Gracie Carey to make the score 2-1 in the second inning. Biehl, whose fastpitch intensity is next-level, came through again in the fourth with a line drive to knock in a hustling Isabel Harris and pull the Tides within 4-3.

Danielle Biehl of Gig Harbor (center) delivers a pitch as Abby Miller at first and Madison DeClements at third field their positions. Photo by Dennis Browne

Gig Harbor tied the game in the seventh to force extra innings. Harris was in a classic do-or-die situation, facing a full count with two outs, a runner on second and the Tides down one run.

Harris, who stands about 5-feet tall, employs “I Wish” by Skee-Lo as her walk-up music. The song’s refrain is: “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller.”

Well, she looked taller standing on first base and was certainly a baller in a clutch situation. She crushed a line drive that bounced off the pitcher’s shoulder and left the Hawks’ infielders scrambling for the ball. Meanwhile, a Tide runner scored from second to knot the score at 4 and force extra innings.

Extra innings

High school fastpitch rules place a runner on second base to begin extra innings. River Ridge took advantage of that, pushing two runs across in the eighth, but the Tides came up clutch again in their half of the inning. Carey crushed a ball to left center, scoring a runner from second base to make it 6-5.

Then freshman Willow Bonnici, who had already turned in some defensive gems from her shortstop position, stepped to the plate. Bonnici turned on a fastball and drove it high to the center field fence for a double to score Carey and tie the game again at 6.

Biehl struck out a River Ridge batter with a runner on third, ending a Hawks threat in the top of the ninth inning.

The Tides offense took care of the rest. A beautiful bunt by Abbie Miller advanced Bonnici from second to third, and Madison DeClements got the game-winning RBI with a fly ball deep enough to score a tagging Bonnici.

“They did the little things that matter to win those types of games. When you mix in a couple of clutch two-out hits, you can win any game,” Gig Harbor coach Jim Peschek said. “There’s lots of experience on our team, juniors and seniors that have been through this before. … They are fighters and they know it’s never over.”

League standings

With the win, the Tides climbed into a second-place tie with Yelm at 6-2 in conference play. The teams are only a game behind league-leading Timberline with six SSC games remaining.

The situation is different for rebuilding Peninsula (2-10, 2-5 SSC), who are seventh in the SSC. But the Seahawks had the bats working overtime in a 21-4 win over Capital on April 22. The next day, the Seahawks fell to Central Kitsap, 14-5.

The Seahawks won the Class 3A state championship last season. Several current players contributed to their championship, which culminated a three-year stretch when Peninsula didn’t lose a South Sound Conference contest.

Track teams impress at South Sound Classic

Both local track and field teams had their share of success at the South Sound Classic at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup on April 13. Athletes are rounding into top form for the upcoming South Sound Conference championships, set for May 7 through 9 at North Thurston High in Lacey.

Elektra Higgins of Peninsula and Taylor Sletner of Gig Harbor finished within a half second of each other in the 1,600 meters at the South Sound Classic. Photo courtesy Peninsula High track

Local standouts at the Classic on the boys side included:

  • Gig Harbor’s Ayden Fink placed fourth in the 100 meters.
  • The Tides’ Jonathan Miles won the 800 meters.
  • Gig Harbor’s Preston Fradet finished fourth in the 1,600 meters.
  • The Gig Harbor team of Christian Keck, Miles, Fink and Ben Stevens won the 4×400 relay. The Tides’ 4×100 team (Ty Rushforth, Ryland Geldermann, Fink and Stevens) placed seventh.

On the girls side, the standouts were:

  • Lejla Carlsson of Gig Harbor won the 800 meters, with Peninsula’s Elektra Higgins finishing fifth.
  • Higgins placed second in the 1,600 meters, while the Tides’ Taylor Sletner finished third, only a half-second behind Higgins.
  • Gig Harbor’s 4×400 relay team (Danica Olsen, Sofia Simmonds, Kate Jones, Maura Lenzi) took second.
  • Karin Heikkila of Gig Harbor finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles.
  • The Tides’ Lydia Ward finished fourth in the javelin.
  • Peninsula’s Anne Shipp was fifth in the high jump.
  • The Tides’ Rylee Cox placed seventh in the pole vault.
  • Peninsula’s Emma Krueger finished sixth in the long jump.

Ty Rushforth of Gig Harbor prepares to lead off for the Tides’ 4×100 relay team. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Baggataway Bowl is Friday

The Peninsula and Gig Harbor lacrosse teams face off at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26, in the Baggataway Bowl. Both teams are 3-4 and fighting for a state playoff spot in the tough Puget-Pierce 3A league.

Peninsula recently thrashed Stadium, 20-2, with leading scorer Robby Akulschin contributing six goals and Nathan DeLong four.

Peninsula defeated Gig Harbor, 10-7, in the first lacrosse match between the two teams this year. Photo courtesy Dani Akulschin

Sophomore John Caplinger and senior Tyler Buys lead Gig Harbor in goal scoring, while junior Nick Gorski is second in the conference with 53 ground ball collected, according to Tides head coach Marc Kemp.

Peninsula beat the Tides, 10-7, on March 22.

“To beat PHS Friday night, we are going to have to play mistake-free lacrosse, get multiple goals from multiple players, and do our best to contain their primary shooters,” said Kemp, who is in his 15th year coaching the Tides. “It’s a tall order, but we have a solid group of ballers, so I am optimistic.”

Golf teams prevail

Gig Harbor’s boys and girls golf coaches were in great moods after watching their teams beat Capital on April 23 at Madrona Links.

The Lady Tides won their match 220-228. Tides sophomore Laila Douglas used an impressive short game and straight line drives to shoot a 41 while smooth-swinging teammate Carly Ikei matched her score.

Gig Harbor’s third-ranked player, sophomore Sofia Skogen, used a beautiful approach shot on the par-4 seventh hole that skirted long after a hard bounce. She calmly lagged an 18-foot putt to within a few inches for a tap-in par and a 42 total score. Her playing partner, senior Hailey Gray, also parred the seventh with a clutch 20-foot chip from the fringe and a tap-in fourth shot to keep Capital at bay.

The Tides’ fifth-ranked golfer, senior Ella Gardner, used a well-placed bunker shot to bogey the hole as well. Gardener’s game continues to improve as her score of 50 was good enough to win her fifth-place match and keep the Tides within a game of the conference lead.

The Gig Harbor girls golf team celebrates a win over Capital on senior night. Photo courtesy GHHS golf

Boys win by 12 strokes

The Gig Harbor boys claimed a 12-stroke win over a talented Capital team that is in second place in the SSC.

I positioned myself under the safety of a couple fir trees and could only see the green on the par-3 second hole. Finding cover at a high school golf match is usually imperative. But then again the Tides top ranked player Theo Snyder was on the tee box and the only way I would have been hit is if I was standing in the middle of the green.

His tee shot softly rolled up to 8 feet from the flag before Snyder walked up and tapped in the par like he was late for a date. Snyder makes the game look easy as he birdied the first three holes on his way to an impressive 4 under 32.

Theo Snyder of Gig Harbor hits an approach shot during his 4-under round at Madrona Links. Photo by Dennis Browne

Tides teammate Liam Dalbec continued to smash his drives and push Snyder with a sizzling three-under 33 while Tide senior Rylan Coovert shot a 36. Senior Chet West is the Tides’ Mr. Dependable and shot a 38 while juniors Timmy Quirk and Davis Dansie fired a 38 and 40, respectively.

Key baseball series this week

Both local baseball teams took a step back in the conference standings this week.

Peninsula (11-7, 7-5 SSC)  dropped two games to Timberline by scores of 5-2 on April 23 and 8-2 the following day. The Tides (11-9, 7-5) split with North Thurston, losing 9-3 at Sehmel Park but winning the road rematch 8-6 on April 24.

Capital has clinched the league title. Both local teams are tied with Timberline for the second spot in the conference with only two games to play. All three are currently 7-5 in conference play.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Tides and Seahawks meet next week for a two-game set on April 30 and May 1 at Sehmel Park at 4 p.m. 

Timberline faces North Thurston in a two-game set next week. The Blazers own a tie-breaker over the Seahawks with their recent sweep and is even with Gig Harbor after the two teams split previous contests.

Kainoa Coit of Peninsula tries to tag out a Timberline base runner. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Logjam at top of tennis standings

Both local girls tennis teams are in a battle for a SSC crown as the regular season starts to wind down. The Seahawks (4-2, 4-2) are in third place but could claim at least a share of the SSC title if they defeat league-leading Yelm on May 1 and second-place Gig Harbor at home on May 2.

The Tides (6-3, 6-2 ) lost to Peninsula 3-2 on April 3 but rebounded to give Yelm their only defeat of the year, 3-2 on April 11. The Tides could grab a share of the conference crown if Peninsula defeats Yelm and the Tides beat Peninsula.