The Kentwood High School Conquerors are champions of the North Puget Sound League (NPSL) fastpitch softball regular season after taking down the Decatur Gators 4-0 on May 4.
“I’m not gonna lie, a lot of work has gone into it. These girls have put blood, sweat and tears into the season. All year long we have preached, how can we build a family and a community? That’s what the girls have done,” Kentwood coach Sydney Eacret said.
The win was the Conquerors’ 12th in a row and sixth consecutive shutout. The Conks have 11 shutout victories on the season, and pitcher Sarah Wright is responsible for a handful of their shutouts.
“My favorite part is cheering her on. I’m her little cheerleader out there,” said senior Sarah Rothenberger.
Coming into this game, there was a little bit of an unspoken but respected rivalry between these two teams. That was something that Eacret noted at the end of the game.
“I think the neat thing here is this unspoken rivalry. Yeah these girls on the field clearly love each other, they’re high fiving and smiling, but then there is that ‘We’re gonna kick your butt feeling,’” she said.
It didn’t take Kentwood long to get on the board. Rothenberger in the first inning hit a solo home run with two outs. She thought that the early run helped settle down the Conks.
“I think it kind of boosted morale. You have to start off strong to get everyone on the right page,” said Rothenberger.
Rothenberger and Wright have had a great connection their entire lives. They even have a little nickname “Sarah squared.”
Wright was sensational on the mound. Decatur came into the contest scoring over 10 runs in 10 of its last 11 games. Wright threw a complete game and struck out 15, silencing one of the top offenses in the NPSL.
Gabby Greenwood notched the second run of the game for the Conks with a home run of her own. Kentwood enjoyed a two-run lead for the majority of the game, but in the seventh, it got some additional insurance.
A leadoff single from Sophia Mottern put the pressure on the Gators. With one out in the inning, Sophia Sappa scored Mottern, who had stolen second base. Sappa came around to score on a double from Isabella Thomasson, sealing the fate of the Gators, going up 4-0.
What is interesting about those two runs is that it’s rare for Kentwood to even be playing in a seventh inning because of their large leads.
“This is one of the few full seven inning games we have played besides the preseason. It’s interesting to see our dynamic coming through and our girls really pushed through without getting all those live innings,” Eacret said.
But the runs came from the bottom of the order, an unlikely place for run production for some, but not Eacret.
“I don’t think our lineup has ever stayed the same,” she said. “We’ve definitely rotated it, but the neat thing about our girls is whether they’re in the beginning or the end of the lineup, there’s never a weak point in our lineup. We’re really strong all the way though.”
“It shows that we can fight back… No matter what, we have people who can push and get the bats going,” Rothenberger said.
Kentwood sealed the 1 seed in the NPSL and has only nonleague games against 3A opponents in the near future. But the challenge that Decatur posed is something they’ll use as momentum and valuable experience moving into the postseason.
“We welcome the challenge, our girls want the challenge… The girls went through why they play, who they play for and the meaning behind the game. It really came down to their redemption shot at state,” Eacret said.