Jessica Glenn thought about the question for a moment, then responded succinctly.
“We’re ready for one,” said Glenn, Kentwood High’s personal hitting machine.
The “one” is a league championship. At a school that seems to win titles by the bushel, a South Puget Sound League crown on the fastpitch diamond has, for the most part, eluded the Conquerors.
Their last one came in 1994. Since then, most of Kentwood’s other teams have won at least one league title and many have claimed more than that.
But things are changing for the Conquerors, who essentially have been on the rise in the SPSL North Division the last three years.
That rise ultimately hit a high point on March 27, when Kentwood knocked off perennial power Kentlake, 12-0.
It was a statement game for the Conquerors. And a big one at that, seeing as Kentlake has won the last three North Division titles and is regarded as one of the state’s premier programs.
For the better part of the last decade, the Falcons have been exactly where the Conquerors have wanted to be — on top.
So when the Conks finally knocked off the Falcons on that late March afternoon …
“It was big,” said Glenn, a senior first baseman who had four hits and four RBIs in the win. “Everyone was like, ‘We can really do this this year. We can do what we want.’”
And Kentwood has done exactly what it has wanted. A team that has finished third in the SPSL North in each of the last three years was on the brink of clinching its first title in more than a decade with a 12-0 drubbing of Federal Way on Tuesday. The win gave the Conks a three-game cushion in the standings with four left to play.
“It’s … big,” said Kentwood coach Jason Wisor., “especially because we live in the shadow of the other sports every year with volleyball, basketball … us and girls track are kind of the last two things.
“We’ve been silent for a while.”
But not any longer.
Matter of fact, there hasn’t been a louder bunch on the SPSL North fastpitch block this season. The Conquerors have done it with a little bit of everything.
But potentially above all else, the key has been the team’s tremendous senior leadership from Glenn, Kayla Evans, Alex Lucas, Liane Dehart and Katie Adams.
Each of the five have come up huge at different points this season, though maybe no one more so than Evans.
One of the North Division’s steadiest pitchers, Evans has stepped into the role of ace and has delivered a string of complete-game, low-hit performances reminiscent of her predecessor, Kirsten Shreve.
None, however, might have been bigger than Evans’ back-to-back complete-game gems last week against Auburn Riverside, which entered play Wednesday afternoon tied with Jefferson and Kentlake for third place in the standings. Those performances ultimately helped the Conquerors put some breathing room between themselves and everyone else.
“Kayla had two good performances,” Wisor said. “She wants to be in the circle every day. She has put the time in the last four years. She’s not going to strike out a ton of players every game and I think that contributes to our success. It keeps everyone in the game.”
Kentwood entered play on Wednesday having won 12 in a row.
But the Conquerors have more on their minds than simply a league crown. Kentwood last advanced to the state tournament in 2006, but was eliminated in two games.
The Conks have different plans this time.
“We’re going all the way to state,” Glenn insisted. “And we’re going to make a dent when we get there.”