Decatur High School softball team wins regional championshipDecatur celebrates with a team photo after its 3-1 win over Chamblee High School on September 5th, 2023. In the back row: Peri Jeffers, Lena Castro, Kyra Jeffrey, Jillian Sobon, Danielle Bacon, Maggie Connerly, Evee Owens, Ava Bearden, Mia Frederick, Mary Huey The front row: Anna Frederick, Sofia Torres-Botta, Giulia Torres-Botta, Rossalia Iglesias-Lopez, Kate Dickinson. Photo provided by Sofia Torres-Botta from the team's Instagram account (@decatursoftball)
By David McFarland, contributor
Decatur, GA — The Decatur High School Varsity girls’ softball team has won the Bulldogs its first region championship of the school year. This is Decatur’s first region triumph in softball for both second-year Head Coach Taryn Williams and the current crop of players.
Coach Williams said, “The commitment of our athletes — merging as a team, realizing there is no ‘I’ in team — has been monumental and given the team exactly the support needed.
Senior Sofia Torres-Botta said, “Winning the region has been by far the most memorable part of our season, especially for us seniors. We’ve been wanting to achieve this ever since freshman year, so being able to win during our last season was really special for us.”
Decatur clinched the title with a 21-1 win over Lithonia in mid-September, keeping the Bulldogs’ 100% winning percentage alive and making sure no one else could catch it atop the 5A Region 4 standings. Decatur boasts a 7W-0L record in region play with one game to go, and 10-7 overall. It swept the season series against second-place Chamblee, handing the latter its only region losses of the year by score lines of 7-4 and 3-1. Those victories over the previous two-time reigning champ have been a long time coming, after Chamblee edged Decatur out for first place in 2022.
“We’ve also been looking to beat Chamblee and win the region for a while now, so I think overall we were more driven to do so this year,” Torres-Botta said.
Decatur’s conquering of its old foe is just the tip of the iceberg of its success, however, and Torres-Botta outlined what went into the Bulldogs’ campaign behind the scenes.
“We worked super hard during our workouts over summer, constantly putting in time and effort into preparing for this season when other teams had not started doing that,” Torres-Botta said. “So I think our early commitment and dedication to the team and achieving our goals helped us come into the season with a more intense mindset, allowing us to stay focused so far in our season.”
Coach Williams painted a similar picture, as well as highlighting several key players.
“The keys behind our success this year playing Bulldog softball compared to last year is we’ve been concentrating on fundamentals, the basics of the game: bunting, hitting, fielding, and running,” Coach Williams said. “Spearheading our success this year as Region Champs are our seniors, Anna Frederick and Sofia Torres-Botta. They’ve been supported by a strong presence on the mound from Danielle Bacon, who often brings a big bat when needed, along with Peri Jeffers taking charge of the outfield. These student-athletes have made the entire team like-minded and determined to do well at state playoffs.”
The job is far from finished, though, and Decatur’s hardware has only further inspired its quest for more success as the season progresses. The Bulldogs still have eight games to go before the postseason begins in mid-October, but its next steps are already planned.
“We use the word WIN as an acronym meaning ‘What’s Important Now?’ Our focus moving forward is to get as many reps as possible before playoffs with the remainder of our season, staying close to small ball as well as many other strategies of the game,” Coach Williams said. “Staying consistent mentally and physically is our next focus for the postseason.
For Torres-Botta, the team’s next move, “is to carry into each game the same intensity we’ve had all season and take each game one at a time. During our last few games, we’ll need to start adjusting to the higher level of competition that we’ll see during state playoffs. Our goals for the rest of the season are to win as many games as possible, and try to make it past the first round of state playoffs.”
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