Not many teams are built like the 2016 version of Puyallup Vikings softball.
The undefeated Vikings are sitting atop the 4A SPSL South and primed for their third consecutive league title while scoring at a breakneck pace — to the tune of 177 totals runs over 15 games.
After Puyallup’s offense caught fire in a 26-2 rout of Bethel on April 19, the Vikings’ home game against league and city rival Rogers (12-3, 7-2) on Friday set the stage for completing a dominant three-year run through the South.
Puyallup (15-0, 9-0) only had to get through Rogers ace Jessica O’Toole. It was a feat in itself that O’Toole even took the rubber against the Vikings.
After leaving practice on April 18, O’Toole was in a car accident. The following day she was scratched from the lineup. But three days later, the Saint Martin’s signee was standing there in the circle, pitching arguably the toughest game of her life as Rogers attempted to put a blemish in their rivals’ perfect season.
“(For) Jessica O’Toole to get out there and pitch like she did shows what kind of class act she is,” Puyallup coach Tony Batinovich said.
It was all heart for O’Toole to be out there on Friday.
O’Toole (4 1/3 innings, three strikeouts) held Puyallup to its lowest run total on the season as the Vikings narrowly squeaked out a 2-1 win over Rogers.
After Rogers’ Kelsey Breer singled home Maddy Glasoe from second to take a 1-0 lead, Puyallup tied the game in the fourth before taking the lead for good in the fifth.
O’Toole loaded the bases in the fifth after getting only one out, and her day ended when she was relieved by Kristin Johnson.
“I feel sore, but I’m glad I made it through the game,” O’Toole said.
“With my team behind, they really know how to back me up and give me confidence to pitch the way I want to,” she added. “(It was about) just trusting the pitches I wanted to throw, knowing my team was back there protecting me. I know I don’t have to be perfect with them playing defense behind me.”
Sophia Bjerk’s infield single off of Johnson corkscrewed on Rogers shortstop Breer, allowing KJ Urley to score from third, giving Puyallup a 2-1 lead.
Rogers had the chance to tie the game in the seventh after Glasoe was hit by a pitch. Tayler Dawes then popped up a low fastball into the hole behind third and short. With the ball about to drop, shortstop Natalie Joyner made a diving catch before rifling her throw to first to double up Glasoe to end the game.
I think I was just focused and in the zone. I know my throws have been off lately, but I got it in there.
“I think I was just focused and in the zone. I know my throws have been off lately, but I got it in there,” Joyner said.
“That was the best defensive play I’ve seen in all my 24 years of coaching,” Batinovich said. “That was just fantastic.”
Puyallup can secure its third South title with wins over Graham Kapowsin (7-6, 5-3) on Tuesday and a win over Curtis (4-10, 2-5) on Friday (April 29).