Pierce Pioneer

Raiders hold eye of the storm

Marji Harris / Staff Photo
Ashley Howell (No. 20) is shown batting for the Raiders’ softball game.

Women’s Pierce softball: too legit to quit

On May 1, the Pierce Raiders and the Skagit Valley Cardinals competed at the level of superior athletes from the start. The sun was shining over the field and the crowd cheered for the young athletes while they performed in one of the closest matches they’ve had all season.

Prior to facing the Cardinals, the Raiders endured a lengthy and heartbreaking day against the fierce Edmond Tritons, who rank in at number two on the nwac bracket. Pierce pushed back with everything they had but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

“They have nothing to feel bad about. They competed like champions against one of the toughest teams around in a game that lasted much longer than expected, leaving them fatigued going into their next event,” said Duncan Stevenson.

Marji Harris / Staff Photo
Brooklyn Taylor-Sparks (No. 11) is shown pitching.

No. 11, Brooklyn Taylor-Sparks, pitching performance was highly impressive. She maintained a tight focus, keeping the pressure and throwing no-hitters for most of the game. The Raiders won the game 4-2.

No. 4, Allyssa Hansen, struggled earlier in the season due to a spinal injury. “She hurt her lower back, but made a steady recovery and continues to play,” said Austin Procter, Allyssa Hansen’s boyfriend.

Sparks, who is a sophomore, came in from Lacey, Washington after graduating out of Timberline High School. She earned the position as primary pitcher for the team, holding a pitching average of 11.56 and continues to mature into a bold young adversary.

Sparks is a strong contender, knowledgeable advocate and a graceful colleague. “She’s been a tremendous benefit to the crew, with a positive attitude and good sportsmanship. She’s also been a dependable side coach, always helping her peers,” said head coach, Mike Nelson.

“I am honored to have trained them. They are absolute warriors,” said Nelson.

Challenges were faced without a full team, but it promoted a sense solidarity. “We lost our main pitcher and a couple other girls along the way. Being short numbered helped us grow closer, connecting as a team,” said Riley Rivera (utility).

Nelson had a tough ride but in the end earned the team’s respect. “He’s been an outstanding mentor, taking the position on short notice and training us to compete on a whole new level. It wasn’t easy for him either since he never got to hand pick us during tryouts,” Rivera said.

No. 2, Kayla Washington, played third base and has been competing since she was ten.

“She’s the youngest of her two sisters,” said Washington’s mother, Kelley Washington. “This is her last year while studying for her associate’s degree. Her two sisters before her competed too and received scholarships for Howard University,” she said.

No matter what the girls went through… they never caved to the pressure.”

— Mike Nelson, Head Coach

Washington is the top batter for the team, always impressing the crowd as she steps to the plate while holding an average of .313. “Her confidence level is fierce. Everybody gets excited whenever she’s up to bat. She consistently performs well and always looks for improvement,” said Nelson.

Washington and Sparks used to compete against each other during their youth. “When they were ten years old, they were rivals from different schools,” said Kelley Washington.

Lily Hope, No. 15, plays shortstop and gave an impressive performance on the field as her boyfriend, Jacob Link, watched from the sidelines. “She’s doing great. They (the team) get along well and maintain their studies together,” said Link.

Hope has been an outstanding well-rounded competitor all season, showing every other competitor she’s worth it, claiming her time on the field. “Hope is a courageous young athlete. She’s the kind of athlete that makes plays nobody else can make,” said Nelson.

The Raiders fought through every injury and training exercise, surpassing every challenge with pride. “No matter what the girls went through or wounds they received during practice and events, they never caved to the pressure,” said Nelson.

As the season wraps up, the Raiders have no regrets with everything they’ve accomplished this year. “I enjoyed every moment as their coach and look forward to next year. They’re a tough bunch and deserve every bit of recognition for their efforts. Go-Raiders!” said Nelson.

New squad, new spirit

Healani Brennan
Staff Writer

Incoming cheer members form bonds for new season

Raiders athletics recently had cheer tryouts, producing six new members. Kelly, Raymond, Tony Robbins, Marissa, Hmway, and Sammy are all part of the team now. They have not been together long, but already the team is getting along well.

“We are already like family,” stated Sammy, while Raymond added, “My family is in Hong Kong and the cheerleading team is my second family in America.”

Team goals for this year include mastering stunts and getting the tumbling down. “Since we’re a small team this year we want to prove that you don’t have to be a large team to be super good,” added Marissa.

Some interesting stories come from a couple of members. Two international students are on the squad this year; Raymond and Hmway.

“In my country there is no cheerleading, and I really love to cheer and I love to motivate people so I joined cheerleading.”

Both Marissa and Kelly were on teams at their high schools, but this is Sammy’s first time. “I didn’t get a chance to be part of a team when I was in high school and so I got to college. I always wanted to do cheerleading.”

Once on the team, the schedule is somewhat grueling. “We had to come and learn all of our material. Three cheers, one chant, some stunting and then an entire halftime dance routine in four hours. We then had to go home at nine o’clock at night, practice, and then be here at nine o’clock in the morning and try out,” said Marissa, who did cheer and competitive gymnastics prior to making this cheer team.

Ex-marine Tony Robbins had his tryouts in the hallway, but feels his experience has been a positive one. “I did not know [the coach] from Adam and I was just walking, ready to go home, and she goes ‘Hey, you look pretty strong. Can you do something for me real quick?’ And then she told me to pick her up and throw her. It was awkward to hear that from a random stranger but it turned out to be something beautiful. I met the coolest people in the world.”

New head coach slides in


Kevin Davis leads Raiders baseball into new school year as head coach

Tamara Kelly
Staff Writer 

Three years at Pierce, two years as head assistant, and two years playing for the minor league with the Atlanta Braves are just a few accomplishments for the new men’s baseball team head coach, Kevin Davis.

Amid the eight years of coaching, Davis began his career as a volunteer assistant for about a year and then worked his way up.

Davis has always enjoyed baseball, starting from his days of playing at Bellevue College to Big Bend Community College. He admitted to being hooked and has remained passionate about the game.

Before completing a degree in history at Lander University in South Carolina, Davis signed a deal with the Braves.

After two years of pitching and a vast array of life skills learned from greats like John Smoltz, Davis was ready to move on from the Braves.

Davis tried to take a break from baseball after he was done playing, but it was something he couldn’t get away from.

“I always knew I wanted to coach when I was done playing,” Davis said. “Some people have the game in their blood. ­ that’s how it was for me.”

­The head coach at Presbyterian College remembered Davis from his professional days at Lander. He suggested that after finishing coaching a summer league team, Davis consider coaching for Presbyterian College.

Last season, Davis was part of the team along with last year’s head coach Mike Nadeau. Both were responsible for leading their teams to Pierce’s first-ever Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Baseball Championship.

He credits Nadeau for all the diligent work he put forth towards creating a successful and cohesive team, whose members all came together despite how the first of the season had begun.

“We had a terrible preseason,” Davis said. “We came together and changed to a positive outlook because things get negative when you lose, but we took a step back and adjusted a few things. Once we did that, it was our turning point for our season.

“Junior colleges are about getting a chance and then moving on with what you learned; for players and for coaches.”

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