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Team plays for Sizemore

POULSBO — Bats crack with the sound of baseballs, mitts snap to catch them and cleats dig into freshly packed dirt on Thursday at North Kitsap Field.

It is once again baseball season at North Kitsap High School and the Vikings exude the confidence of a team that is the defending Narrows League champion and 13 seniors deep.

But NK’s boys of summer are missing their 14th.

Senior and North athlete Kyle Sizemore, severely injured in a March 8 accident on Hansville Road, died from his injuries six days later.

Sizemore, one of North’s most seasoned veterans having played in NK since the littlest of little leagues, had worked all winter in anticipation of his own senior season. He trained hard at Poulsbo Athletic Club, where he also worked, and played equally as hard for the Kitsap Gators, a select team.

As the Vikings practice Thursday, a board inside their own dugout was filled with pictures and memories of their fallen teammate. Each of the players is coping with the fact he is gone.

“I honestly think we were in a state of shock,” said NK coach Steve Frease of when he made the announcement of Sizemore’s death to the players Tuesday. “When we broke the news to the kids there were tears and a lot of silence.”

His closest friends on the team attempted to stay focused during practice, but couldn’t help but take breaks to view the board full of memories of Kyle. There was also seemingly magical moment on the same day when the rain clouds dispersed and a bold rainbow shone down on the players and coaches from overhead.

Senior Miles Thompson, one of Sizemore’s best friends and fellow player on the Gators as well as Vikings, visited the dugout often Thursday.

Thompson met Sizemore during little league, the pair competing together on the 11- and 12-year-old all star team. They became friends on the select team as the only two North enders on the Gators.

“He was usually a quiet kid,” Thompson said. “But when you got to know him, he really showed his personality.”

Sizemore was never one to back down from a challenge, said Thompson, who described him as someone who took his baseball — and anything he set his mind to — very seriously.

“He gave 110 percent on everything he did,” Thompson said.

Senior Erik Gronnvoll not only hung out with Kyle on the field but said they were often together during passing periods at school and spent much time on the beach in Gamblewood, where Sizemore lived.

“You’d always be laughing when you were with him,” Gronnvoll said. “He was just an all around cool kid that you loved to hang out with.”

Sizemore, a talented guitarist, would often play songs of his favorite bands and had started his own as well with Thompson.

“He really just liked to hang out and be a kid,” Thompson said.

“Being around him was just fun,” Gronvoll added. “We’d always find something to do.”

Frease described Sizemore as quiet, but when it came to competition, he was as ferocious as anyone.

“He was a very, very highly competitive young man,” Frease said. “He did not like to lose.”

The high school has fallen on very hard times due to car accidents of late. Fellow senior Miles Pendergraft also died in a crash in late February.

A memorial service for Sizemore will be held at 2 p.m. March 20 at NK Auditorium. But the baseball team will undoubtedly be thinking about Sizemore every game and Frease said to play for him is the best way to pay tribute to him.

“One of the things I’m seeing out of this is that we have a strong need to be on field together,” Frease said. “That honors Kyle.”

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