The Decatur High School softball team was two wins shy of the state tournament after a 5-1 loss. However, this year’s squad did something Decatur didn’t do last year — win a district playoff game.
Last season, Decatur went 0-2 in the 2022 West Central District Tournament. This year, the Gators took down Sumner in game one of their playoff run by a score of 6-4 on May 19.
“We wanted to come back (this year) and go as far as we can,” Kahea Sharpe said.
Decatur entered the game in the number two spot in the NPSL, finishing two games behind 4A NPSL champs Kentwood.
In the game against Sumner, the Gators trailed almost immediately, with Sumner’s leadoff hitter smacking a home run to left field on the third pitch of the game. But Decatur battled back with their leadoff hitter Kahea Sharp reaching on a walk and scoring on a Samantha Hackney single to tie the game. The Gators proceed to hit three singles in a row, two of them scoring runs. Nini Sevaaetasi and Karen Cervantes had the RBIs, and Decatur gained a 3-1 advantage after one inning.
“It was definitely refreshing to see our girls just play the game the way they have all season. We see the difference between this year and last year is how relaxed they are to just go play the game,” Assistant Head Coach Sydney Kozorezov said.
Sumner responded with another lone run in the second, and Sharpe had another Gator run, this time with her own bat. Sharpe took the first pitch she saw and hit it over the left center fence for some added insurance in the second.
“In my head I was telling myself do what you can to get on base, move the runners. Just do as much as you can to help the team,” Sharpe said.
The Spartans scored again for the third consecutive inning. Then Decatur scored again for their third consecutive inning with another home run. Cervantes recorded her second RBI of the game on her solo home run in the third. After three, Decatur was on top 5-3.
The final Decatur run scored on the Gators third home run of the afternoon by a third different player. Sina Fuiava went large with a round-tripper for Decatur’s sixth run of the game. But it wasn’t the final run in the game.
That run was scored by Sumner in the top of the seventh. Karen Cervantes was able to survive the attempted rally and got some help from her defense in the seventh inning. After a one out single, Sharpe fielded a ground ball on the run, stepped on second and threw to first to end the ballgame.
“She’s a well rounded player. She’s our best utility player and came ready to swing it at the plate. She’s all over the field and we appreciate that as a team,” Kozorezov said.
Decatur lost to Skyview High School, 8-4, to send the Gators to the losers bracket. In the game, Decatur had four errors, and gave up seven extra base hits. Skyview scored in every inning against the Gators.
On May 20, Decatur had to beat Battle Ground to keep their season alive. The long ball giveth and the long ball taketh, and against the Falcons, Decatur gave up two home runs in the fifth inning. Decatur was able to rally for a run in the seventh and Karen Cervantes hit a double, scoring Sevaaetasi.
Decatur has a chance next year to compete a top the NPSL once more, still hunting for the first state tournament berth in what would be 19 years.