Decatur fastpitch bounces back with win over Enumclaw

Gators starting pitcher Audrey Deviney goes 2-4 at the plate and gives up zero earned runs in the circle.

Decatur High School’s fastpitch team is bringing a lot of promise into this 2024 season, and their talent was on display at the Auburn Riverside Fastpitch Invitational on March 15 with an impressive 6-1 win over Enumclaw.

The Gators were a game short of the state tournament last season. A win either against Skyview or Battle Ground in the loser’s bracket would have given the Gators a shot at the state tournament for the second time in school history and first time since 2005.

After a crushing loss to state qualifying Rogers in the Gators’ first game of the season (leading 6-0 and falling 11-6), Decatur was on a mission to get back on track.

“We just have to remind ourselves that it is early in the season … It was great to see the energy come back after the loss,” said Assistant Coach Sydney Kozorezov.

“We just had to learn from it and add some energy. Once we got some energy, we were good,” said junior Audrey Deviney.

What better way to do that than jumping on your next opponent with immediacy. In the top of the first, junior Kahea Sharpe singled with one out in the inning and was brought home via senior Sina Fuiava.

Fuiava was on another level last season leading the Decatur offense, and she looks to be doing the same this season. Her two-run homer settled the Gators against Enumclaw.

In the circle, Audrey Deviney allowed just a single run in the bottom of the first, but was lights out from the second until she came out of the game in the fifth inning. Deviney was the ace for Decatur last year and so far she looks to be in form for her junior year.

“She had an eye for what the hitters couldn’t reach and threw it around the plate really well,” said Kozorezov.

“It’s my favorite part of the game,” Deviney said. As a pitcher and a hitter, she has essentially double the workload of just a position player. Because she has put all that work in, the payoff is starting to take place.

“It’s very difficult. It takes a lot of time, but it is worth it,” she said.

Deviney also hit the life out of the ball against Enumclaw, going 2-4 with a homerun, double and two runs batted in. Deviney smoked a line drive over the tall fence at Auburn Riverside down the left field line to extend the Gator lead to three, and then her double was also down the third base line, which scored Fuiava.

“Audrey has a lot of power. When she is dialed, she can get a hold of a ball real good,” said Kozorezov.

Pitching changes don’t happen often in fastpitch. Many coaches will only throw one or two pitchers a game and then a bullpen arm usually throws the next game. But Decatur is in a unique spot with Karen Cervantes, who is not your typical relief pitcher.

Cervantes came in firing and with a runner on third base, and one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cervantes struck out the first batter she faced and got the following batter to ground out to Fuiava at third.

“She came out really strong. I was really proud of her getting in the zone with a runner on base. She did great,” said Kozorezov.

The Hornet offense was stifled by Cervantes, who was perfect through her two and two-thirds of work in the circle. She struck out three, and didn’t allow a walk or a hit, silencing the Enumclaw bats.

Deviney and Cervantes can bring Decatur to new heights and can be the key to a great season for the Gators. But what happens off the field is really what makes this Decatur team different. They only lost two players from the team a year ago and the chemistry is something that this group values more than anything.

“It’s amazing, we can all talk to each other and lift each other up. It’s one of the best parts, how much fun we have and how much we can lift each other up,” Deviney said.

Decatur fastpitch is back in action March 21 at Gig Harbor High School before coming home and taking on Kentlake on the March 26.

Lani Smith-O’Brien and Kahea Sharpe celebrate a catch in the win over Enumclaw. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Lani Smith-O’Brien and Kahea Sharpe celebrate a catch in the win over Enumclaw. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Karen Cervantes eyes down the Enumclaw batter. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Karen Cervantes eyes down the Enumclaw batter. Ben Ray / The Mirror