Sports

Painter, amazing freshmen lead squad

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

It was a year of firsts for fastpitch in Federal Way.

Decatur qualified for its first-ever Class 4A State Fastpitch Championships and several first-year high school players had big impacts on their respective teams within the Federal Way school district.

But the biggest impact during the season came from Decatur senior pitcher/hitter Rachael Painter. The right-hander finished the year 22-7 on the mound with a school record 299 strikeouts in nearly 200 innings of work. Opponents hit just .130 against her and she threw a no-hitter at the Class 4A State Championships in a 3-0 win over Everett. Painter also hit a respectable .321 with eight RBIs during the South Puget Sound League season at the plate. Numbers that earned Painter the Mirror’s 2005 Player of the Year.

“Painter as the (Player of the Year) is a no-brainer,” said Beamer head coach Stu Prince.

Painter is still up in the air about what she’s going to do in the fall. She has the opportunity to pitch at Pacific Lutheran University, one of the better NAIA programs in the country, but isn’t sure fastpitch is in her future.

Despite the graduation of Painter, the future looks pretty bright at the four Federal Way high schools.

An amazing seven out of 13 players on the Mirror’s All-City Fastpitch Team are currently finishing up their final week of school as freshmen.

It’s something that couldn’t have happened a few years ago. That’s when the Federal Way school district implemented the middle school system, which moved ninth-graders into the high schools. Before the district’s seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders attended junior high schools.

Leading the list of this year’s freshmen class are Jefferson catcher Shawntay Thong and Decatur shortstop Kendal Nakashima.

Thong finished the SPSL South year with a .482 average (second in the league) and 27 hits. She also tallied 11 RBIs and scored 14 runs for TJ, who finished up in fifth place in the South.

Nakashima wasn’t too far behind. The freshman hit .456 (sixth in the South) with 13 RBIs (sixth) and 15 runs (fourth).

Other freshmen on the All-City Team include Beamer infielders Kelsi Messling (.375, 13 RBIs) and Nicole Peterson (.333, six RBIs, 10 runs), Decatur outfielder Lindsey Bright (.357, seven RBIs, 15 runs), TJ outfielder Sara Byrne (five RBIs, eight runs) and TJ utility player Stephanie Ogle (.306, nine RBIs, seven runs).

But it was another upper classman, Beamer junior catcher Jade Clare, that quietly put together one of the better offensive seasons in the SPSL South this season. The junior led the South in hitting with an impressive .483 batting average after collecting 28 hits in 58 at bats. Clare also knocked in 15 runs to lead the Titans.

Other All-City Team members include a pair of senior Federal Way infielders, Leslie Davis and Morgan Swanberg, Decatur sophomore outfielder Morgan Bright (.317, six RBIs, nine runs) and TJ sophomore outfielder Alyssa Haywood (.358, nine RBIs, 12 runs).

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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