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Gators snare first-ever championship
By CASEY OLSON
Its a place nobody thought the Decatur fastpitch team would be when the season started. But with a 1-0 win over Spanaway Lake Wednesday afternoon, the Gators clinched the schools first-ever South Puget Sound League South Division championship.
The victory improved Decatur to 15-2 in the SPSL South with one game remaining in their regular season Thursday against Emerald Ridge (after press time). Curtis sat one-game back, but the Gators beat the Vikings both times they played this season.
The girls are feeling pretty good about the whole deal, said head coach Mike Painter. I picked us to finish in fourth or fifth before the season. We only had four starters returning from last year and I really didnt know what to expect.
Painter knew he had something special in pitcher Rachael Painter, who happens to be his daughter, and she has pretty much been unhittable this season. Rachael Painter, the reigning SPSL South Most Valuable Pitcher, has been even better this year. The senior has pitched every inning of every game and will set school records for strikeouts (212 currently), wins (16) and earned-run average (0.32), among others.
Rachael is pretty durable, Mike Painter said. I knew she would carry us. She is the real deal and shes really buckled down this year. Her control is just amazing.
Painter threw her 10th shut out of the season Wednesday with a two-hitter against Spanaway Lake (13-5), the best hitting team in the SPSL South. She walked three and struck out 10. Painter also shutout Rogers Tuesday, 1-0. She allowed four hits and struck out 11.
The two 1-0 wins were eerily similar. Decaturs Lindsey Bright scored both of the runs in the first innings. After getting a hit, Bright stole second and third bases in both games and went home on overthrows from the catchers. Rachael Painter did the rest on the mound in both games.
We have been very aggressive on the bases the whole season, Mike Painter said. We have more than double the stolen bases of anybody in the league and I think we have manufactured more runs that we have earned.
Bright finished 1-for-2 with a run in both games.
This championship is a huge deal for the school and the girls, Mike Painter