Bremerton senior softball player Kaylee Bullard prepared herself for a pair of trivia questions.
The first question: What was Bremerton’s record in 2017, the year before Bullard started playing for the Knights as a freshman?
“They did not win a single game,” Bullard said.
Correct. Bremerton finished 0-13 in 2017.
The second question: When was the last time Bremerton's softball team finished with a winning record?
“I think I heard it was 2014, right?” Bullard said.
Again, Bullard nailed the right answer. The Knights finished 12-8 in 2014, before beginning a rough stretch in which Bremerton won 16 combined games over the course of five seasons.
Bullard didn’t win a prize for being on target during trivia time, but the Knights' starting catcher is pleased her team is winning consistently once again.
Bremerton is 8-4 with home games against Kingston (April 26) and Klahowya (April 28) remaining in the regular season. Two games in a mini-league tournament follow, so it’s possible the Knights could finish with 12 victories to match the 2014 squad.
“That’s what we’re looking at for the most part,” Bullard said.
“It kind of makes you feel good, doesn’t it?" said Bremerton head coach Rob Ells. "It kind of makes me think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Comeback 'cool to be a part of'
Three of Bremerton’s losses are one-run defeats against the top three teams in the Olympic League: Port Angeles, North Kitsap and North Mason. The Knights’ 4-3 loss against perennial league champion Port Angeles (10-0) on March 31 showed players just how far they’d come the past few years.
“We were up that entire game until the last two innings,” Bullard said. “Looking back at that, we have not been competitive against PA like that — ever.”
The Knights have a most valuable player candidate in senior Mia Falotico, who's hitting .619 with five doubles, four triples, six home runs, 32 RBI and 21 runs. She hasn't struck out once in 50 plate appearances. On the mound, Falotico is 7-2 with 78 strikeouts and a 3.46 earned run average in 64.2 innings pitched.
“I definitely had a lot of goals and things I wanted to reach," said Falotico, who is committed to play at Clackamas College in Oregon after graduation. "I’m succeeding in my goals. It’s exciting.”
Falotico and Bullard helped lead Mountain View Middle School's softball team to a 9-1 record when they were in eighth grade, giving the pair hope they'd be able to make an impact once they reached high school. The Knights were starting from ground zero, so there were some natural doubts about how fast things could get turned around.
"Coming in to something that hasn’t won any games, you get kind of nervous, like ‘Oh no, what am I going to do?’" Falotico said.
Bremerton won three games in 2018 and six games in 2019, but progress stalled last year when COVID-19 caused spring sports to be canceled. Ells felt the Knights would have won plenty of games in 2020.
“I thought last year ... would have been this year," he said.
With no WIAA postseason being played this spring, Bremerton will miss out on an opportunity to qualify for state tournament play for only the second time in school history; the 1995 team finished 20-9 and went 3-2 at the Class 4A tournament, with losses against South Kitsap and Central Kitsap.
Yet Falotico said it's nice knowing the Knights are in a better place at the end of her career than at the beginning.
"It’s definitely been something to learn from," Falotico said, "cool to be a part of.”