Puyallup softball games are starting to have a familiar look to them.
After Puyallup routed Bethel, 26-2, and kept its unbeaten season in the 4A SPSL South intact, the Vikings are looking a lot like the team that surprised the state and won the 4A state title in 2014.
“A little bit, yeah,” Regan Byrd said. “A different aspect, because we make up for what we didn’t have in offense (in 2014).”
The 2014 version of the Vikings won the state title behind pitching and defense. This year’s squad added offense to that mix.
“Right now, we’re swinging some good bats, and we have a good hitting lineup,” Puyallup coach Tony Batinovich said. “(Today) was what it was. The ball must have looked big. It was even hard outs.”
The Vikings (14-0, 8-0 4A SPSL South) have been punishing opposing pitchers, scoring 175 runs through 14 games, an average of 12.5 runs per game. Puyallup has eight wins by at least 10 runs and has scored in double-digits in 11 of 14 games this season.
It’s been a headache for teams to record an out against the Vikings’ lineup.
“I think it’s being aggressive and just hitting our pitches, and not chasing after the bad pitches,” Natalie Joyner said.
The 2014 Puyallup team scored in double-digits five times all season — regular season and postseason combined. This year’s team has more than doubled that total.
“I feel we’re really good at bouncing off each other’s energies,” Byrd said.
After the Vikings’ win over Bethel (5-6, 3-4) and with four league games left on their schedule, Puyallup is one step closer to extending its league championship run to three consecutive South titles.
With Tahoma’s (13-0, 11-0) win over Kentlake, 11-1, the Bears and Vikings are the only undefeated 4A teams in the area.
The difference between the Puyallup team that won state and this year’s squad is the reason the Vikings have been scoring at a hectic clip: experience.
For Puyallup, many of the players from that state-winning team remain; the team that won state was comprised of sophomores and freshmen, with a dominant pitcher in Marissa Miller, who now pitches at Pacific Lutheran University.
Last year, the team only graduated Bailey Plumb and Kianna Hess.
“In some ways, I think our hitting lineup is better,” Batinovich said. “But we’ll see about our defense and our fundamentals — our pitching is pretty good too.”
Two years ago, Batinovich said it was a surprise and the girls arrived on the scene “earlier” than he thought they would.
Not this year.
This year it’s about getting back to the state playoff bracket after Puyallup slipped up last season at the West Central District III playoffs at Kent Service Ballfields.
Puyallup can take another step in locking up the South title when it hosts second-place Rogers (12-2, 7-1) this Friday.
“We’re all looking forward to it, and I think we’re prepared for it,” Joyner said of Friday’s game with the Rams.