Gabby Greenwood gives a yell after her home run against Graham-Kapowsin. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Gabby Greenwood gives a yell after her home run against Graham-Kapowsin. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentwood falls in district championship, named five seed for state tournament

Kentridge makes second day of district tournament for first time since 2016.

With the district tournament beginning at Kent Service Park and Ballfields, both Kentridge and Kentwood fastpitch teams were in action looking to make the state tournament.

Both teams had different mentalities in this cut-throat district tournament. Kentwood, the much more seasoned team, has a state title on its mind. While Kentridge is on the come up, with a young core of players looking to cause some problems for their opponents.

“This group has grown leaps and bounds. It has been amazing and fun to watch. These kids have grown together as a group and we have grown together as a whole,” said first year skipper Rachel Shillinger.

Kentridge finished with a 10-9-1 record, good enough to be the 11th seed in the district tournament.

In their opening game May 17, the Chargers fell 3-1 to Rogers. Kentridge was in the game until the final out was recorded. The Rams were rewarded with a fortunate infield fly call on a short pop-up that could have loaded the bases in the fourth.

An Alissa Andrews shallow pop-up just got over the head of the pitcher, and a quick trigger infield fly call got yelled by the home plate infielder. Despite no Rogers player being under the ball, second baseman Sophie Acree had to dive for the ball. Then in all the commotion, Shillinger touched the arm of Brianna Tom, which meant Tom was out.

The Chargers couldn’t get much going offensively after the fourth with just two players reaching base in the final three innings. The Chargers fell and then took on Kennedy Catholic, whom they beat 7-0, avenging an 11-8 loss from 11 days prior.

“This was a big win for us... We wanted to come out and give our best game and we finally started swinging the bats... Good things happen when he hit the ball and swing the bat,” Shillinger said.

Freshman Jozi Thompson threw a no-hitter against the Lancers, striking out 17 along the way, and recorded two hits and two runs scored. At the plate against Kennedy, Kenzie Coble, another freshman, went 2-3 with a homer and three RBI. Freshman Naomi Benavides and sophomore Alissa Andrews each recorded doubles in the win.

This team is young and has a ton of untapped potential in its lineup. Kentridge has three freshmen in their starting nine and in the three games at districts, they faced three other freshmen in total.

“It has been awesome. You get four more years with them and to see them from here to four years from now will be different and fun to watch,” Shillinger said.

Upperclassman make up three spots in the order for Kentridge. Rogers, Kennedy and Decatur averaged 33% underclassmen.

The Chargers made the second day of the district tournament for the first time since 2016. This year, the second day was just one game against Decatur, who defeated Kentridge 11-3.

Excitement is through the roof for where this group can go in the years to come.

“We put out a good battle with Rogers this morning. We had beaten Decatur before, it is fun to battle with those teams,” Shillinger said.

Kentwood

Kentwood on the other hand has underclassmen in their starting lineup. With seniors the quality of Sarah Wright, JJ Ursino and Jo Francis-Rodrigues, their window is now.

Kentwood started their tournament with a gritty 4-2 win over an under-rated Battle Ground side that was the 15 seed and ended up making the state tournament.

Throughout the whole season, Kentwood has been working toward being a complete team, on and off the field. A big change from last year to this year is how close this team has gotten and how much they enjoy being around each other.

The chemistry is on a different level, according to Head Coach Sydney Eacret, who in her second year is still learning: “A big thing that I learned from last year to this year is that teams don’t all get fired up the same... If there is something that fires the team up, I am here for it. That is what they need and I am in tune with that. I think it is really neat to see that growth.”

Kentwood’s offense in the first two games of the tournament was fueled via the long ball. The Conks launched four homers over two games in the wins over Battle Ground and Graham-Kapowsin.

Izzy Thomasson got the scoring going early with a 3-run home run against Battle Ground. Wright had a pair of long balls along with Gabby Greenwood against GK.

Of course, what would a Kentwood fastpitch story be without mentioning Sarah Wright in the circle. She dominated over the two-day tournament, throwing in three of the four Kentwood games.

In the district tournament, she had a 0.42 ERA, with 39 strikeouts over 21 innings pitched. Wright allowed just one earned run in the seventh inning against Battle Ground. It took some dedication to make sure that Wright’s arm is as fresh as possible

“We have really been conscious of that with her. She pitched a lot this season, but not every game. We really tried to utilize our other pitchers to keep her fresh,” Eacret said.

She shut out Emerald Ridge for the first time since May 27, 2022.

Kentwood played in the district title game for the first time since that 2022 season against Skyview, whom they faced two years ago as well. This time the Storm got the better of Kentwood 11-4 in the championship.

Kentwood had Greenwood in the circle, who only allowed six earned runs in the championship game. The Conks weren’t outclassed either offensively, even leading 3-1 in the fourth. But four errors in the final two innings allowed eight runs to score in the sixth and seventh innings.

Kentwood was given the fifth seed and plays Redmond May 24 at Columbia Playfields in Richland.


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Head Coach Sydney Eacret and Sarah Wright high-five after her first homer of the day. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Head Coach Sydney Eacret and Sarah Wright high-five after her first homer of the day. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Jozi Thompson in the middle of her motion against Kennedy Catholic. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Jozi Thompson in the middle of her motion against Kennedy Catholic. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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