Sarah Wright struck out 17 and allowed just two hits against Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Sarah Wright struck out 17 and allowed just two hits against Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentwood fastpitch wins fourth straight league title

Wright and Conks down Kentridge 7-0 with 17Ks and 2RBI at the plate.

Kentwood fastpitch has been nothing but dominant since coming out of the Covid pandemic. They won their fourth straight NPSL league title May 13 with a 7-0 win over crosstown rival Kentridge.

But if anyone was watching the game, parents and fans alike couldn’t tell that the Conks just won the league. Their focus is on the task ahead, and winning the league just comes with the expectation of making a run to state.

“Winning league hasn’t been a topic of discussion for us. We haven’t talked about it once. It’s about taking districts, going to state. The bigger picture,” said Head Coach Sydney Eacret.

Kentridge was not going to just roll over and give the Conks the title.

Kentridge had defeated the one team that gave Kentwood fits in Decatur, and freshman Jo Thompson was going to make the Conks work. Through her first three innings of work, she allowed just two batters to reach base while striking out three and not giving up a hit. She impressed a lot of people on the Kentwood side, even Eacret: “She doesn’t have that many games under her belt, but by the time she gets to her senior year, she could be the next Sarah Wright.”

The offense eventually got going for Kentwood in the fourth inning. JJ Ursino started the inning with a single in her first game back after a wrist injury. She came around to score on a wild pitch and totaled two hits and three runs with one RBI.

The following inning, Kentwood broke the game open. The Conks loaded the bases with no outs, and an error allowed two runs to score, and Wright hit a laser to right center scoring two more. Wright came around to score on a wild pitch and Kentwood took a 6-0 lead. Wright doesn’t hit for her summer select team, so she just gets to swing with reckless abandon.

“She gets to come out with this fresh mindset and attacking the ball because she doesn’t know anything else,” Eacret said.

Eacret made a point that this team is very close and OK with making mistakes and learning from them, especially this season. When Wright is in the circle, they know they are going to pick her up with the bats: “These girls go out there and aren’t afraid to mess up. They aren’t afraid to have one bad inning because they know they’ll pick it up on the defensive side. You can have one inning where you don’t hit, but you have to make up for it on defense.”

Wright was her typical self in the circle. After her 23-strikeout performance against Decatur her last time out, she followed that up with a splendid performance against Kentridge. She threw all seven innings, struck out 17 batters, allowed two hits and no walks.

In the seventh, Ursino hit a one out double and scored on a Joe Francis-Rodrigues single to left for some insurance. That RBI came with two outs, and pressure hitting was a focus for the Conks late in the season to prepare for what is to come.

“We had real time at-bats against Sarah. Gabby (Greenwood) and Kaitlyn (Vert) all pitch... It was live at-bats to feel all that pressure. I think for the girls they are getting used to that pressure,” Eacret said.

The Conks fell short last season in state, falling in the semifinals and not placing. But with Wright, who has arguably her best stuff of her career, and an offense that can back her up, they are poised to do something special this season.

“I’m so excited. Our thing has been ‘leave it all out on the field.’ We’ve had discussions with our girls, ‘is this our best chance to take state?’ Probably. Some people don’t like to have those discussions, it scares them. For our girls it drives them,” Eacret said.


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Freshman Jo Thompson was dialed in against Kentwood. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Freshman Jo Thompson was dialed in against Kentwood. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Joe Francis-Rodrigues gives a high-five after an RBI. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Joe Francis-Rodrigues gives a high-five after an RBI. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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