The softball teams from North Kitsap and Olympic both finished with 14-4 records this spring and have the chance to qualify for state Friday as the Class 2A West Central/Sea-King Bi-District tournament begins in Lacey.
There's only one problem: only one team can win its first-round game because the fourth-seeded Vikings and fifth-seeded Trojans are playing each other at 2 p.m. at the Regional Athletic Complex.
"It should be a good game," said Olympic coach Chuck Stark, whose team split against North Kitsap during the regular season, winning 5-0 and losing 3-2. "I think us and North are pretty even."
With five district teams moving onto state, the winner between North Kitsap and Olympic advances into Saturday's semifinal round and can finish no lower than fourth place. The loser needs to win three consecutive games on the consolation side of the 16-team bracket to grab the final state berth.
Considering the Olympic League sent six teams to districts, there was always a strong possibility two would hook up in the first round. It wasn't the most desirable outcome for the Vikings or Trojans, but it's the playoff road they must travel.
"Ultimately we've got to go compete," North Kitsap coach Clay Blackwood said.
The game will feature two of the younger teams in West Sound. Olympic and North Kitsap have a combined three seniors on their roster. There's a chance Friday's game could see a battle between two freshmen pitchers: Olympic's Brenda Morrison and North Kitsap's Reese Anderson.
Other opening-round games Friday involving Olympic League teams are No. 1 Port Angeles (17-2) vs. No. 8 White River and No. 6 Sequim (12-6) vs. No. 3 Sammamish in winner-to-state games. No. 14 Kingston (7-10) plays No. 9 Orting at noon and No. 10 North Mason (11-8) faces No. 16 Tyee at 2 p.m. in loser-out games Friday.
As the 10th seed in the 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament, South Kitsap (10-10) needs to win three consecutive games to qualify for state. The Wolves' first game is Friday at noon against No. 15 Kentwood at Kent Services Field.
South Kitsap coach Bobby Lawrence said his team, which tied for fifth in the South Puget Sound League, has the ability to go 3-0 at districts. The players need to believe in themselves.
"This entire week I have been really emphasizing our culture and identity," Lawrence said. "We need to go into each game with a plan and confidence. It’s there for the taking. We just have to want it."
No. 16 Central Kitsap (6-14) opens play in the 3A West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament against No. 9 Heritage at the RAC on Friday at 2 p.m. The Cougars need to win two consecutive elimination games to have a shot at reaching state.
Central Kitsap coach Courtney Cotter, who has only one senior on her roster this spring, said qualifying for the playoffs is a major accomplishment for her young squad, which tied for fourth in the South Sound Conference.
"This will be a great experience and time to see what the postseason is all about," Cotter said.
In the West Central District 1A tournament, Nisqually League champion Klahowya (13-4) is scheduled to play the winner of Cascade Christian/Bellevue Christian at 8 p.m. at the RAC on Friday. If the Eagles win, they'll clinch a state berth. If the Eagles lose, they'll play a rematch on Saturday, with the winner advancing to state and the loser ending its season.
Klahowya coach Meika Hall said the Eagles need to be prepared mentally and physically for Friday's late start. The team spent time this week on Central Kitsap High School's turf field in order to prepare for playing conditions at the RAC (Klahowya's home field is dirt and grass).
"We just want our girls to go out and have fun. The rest will fall into place like it needs to," Hall said. "We are all excited for postseason."
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: District softball playoffs feature North Kitsap, Olympic showdown