MATT SCHUBERT’S PREP NOTES: Sequim Wolf growls, fires up her teammates

FEW WOULD’VE BLAMED Sequim’s Bailey Rhodefer for getting out of the way of a high-and-tight fastball from Port Angeles pitcher Stacy Webb.

They might call it softball, but that thing still hurts pretty good — especially when it’s thrown with the sort of velocity hurlers like Webb possess.

Wolves teammate Rylleigh Zbaraschuk wasn’t having it though.

“C’mon,” she yelled at Rhodefer from the on-deck circle, “take it like a man!”

In a nutshell, that’s what the undefeated Sequim Wolves softball team is all about.

Whatever it takes to win, they’re all game.

Few embody that fighting spirit more than Rylleigh, younger sister to starting Wolves catcher Maddy Zbaraschuk and Sequim’s lead-off hitter.

The way the sophomore center fielder stomps around the field during games, you get the idea she’s convinced herself that the other team stole something from her.

She kicks up dirt all around the batter’s box, stares down opposing pitchers after each pitch and oozes intensity on every play.

At one point in Thursday’s 7-6 win over Port Angeles, she actually dove over the center field fence in an attempt to rob Hannah Wahto of a home run.

That Rylleigh failed to catch the ball seemed almost secondary to the message her effort sent — she wasn’t giving in on anything.

Neither, it seems, are the rest of the Wolves.

Golf awards

North Olympic Peninsula golfers dominated the Olympic League’s postseason awards this spring.

Not surprising, considering the Port Townsend boys and Sequim girls each were the champions of their respective leagues, and the Sequim boys and Port Angeles girls finished second.

Of the 14 all-league spots between the boys and girls, Sequim, Port Angeles and Port Townsend accounted for 10 of them.

That included girls MVP honors for Port Townsend’s Jenny Grauberger.

The two-time state participant seems destined to compete for a top-five finish in the Class 1A state tournament.

Her nine-hole average score of 41.6 in league play was easily the best in the league, nearly six strokes better than the next best golfer (Sequim’s Kim Duce at 47.3).

By contrast, Sequim’s Ryan O’Mera (37.9) and Port Townsend’s Cody Piper (38.0) had nine-hole averages within a stroke of Olympic League boys MVP Troy Means of North Kitsap (37.0).

For a complete listing of the All-Olympic League golf team, see Page B3.

Artificial advantage

One of the benefits of having an artificial turf field on the Peninsula?

Deserving teams no longer would have to travel long distances for critical playoff games.

As the Sequim football team learned this fall, even league champions have to travel for district playoffs if the requisite artificial turf field isn’t nearby.

Luckily for the Wolves’ boys soccer counterparts, Peninsula College recently completed construction of its own state-of-the-art facility.

And guess who’s hosting a loser-out Class 2A sub-district playoff game there Wednesday?

Sequim, which will face Eatonville on the Pirates’ new field at 6:15 p.m.

If only our football teams had such a luxury, Port Angeles, Sequim and Neah Bay wouldn’t have had to “host” its district playoffs on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Rider revival

Good things come to those who wait.

In the case of Port Angeles boys soccer coach Chris Saari, that meant suffering through several down years on the pitch for the Roughriders.

But even after missing the postseason in each of his first six seasons at the helm — none of those teams finished within two wins of .500 — he came back for more every spring.

Now, that stability is starting to pay off.

Port Angeles not only clinched its first playoff appearance in nine years a week ago, it also put the finishing touches on its first 10-win season in 10 years with Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Olympic.

If the Riders (4-2-2 in league, 10-4-2 overall) beat Seamount No. 2 Foster (4-2-6) on its own field in next Saturday’s 2A Bi-District playoff, they’ll make their first trip to state since the 2000 squad finished second in 4A.

Yes, after a long tumble to the bottom, Rider soccer is relevant once again.

________

Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at matt.schubert@peninsuladailynews.com.

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