The heart of the Enumclaw Hornets fastpitch team begins with a hand-and-glove pairing of pitcher and catcher. Two high-school girls who communicate with a glance, a hand signal or a smile – and win.
The Hornets have pitched, hit and played nearly flawlessly and the payoff is the team is now standing on the brink of a perfect regular season with the drive to win a state title.
Senior catcher Becky Forza and sophomore pitcher Quinn Breidenbach have led this team of talented competitors through the South Puget Sound League 3A, racking up wins and having the fun.
Breidenbach throws a rising fastball hitting 62 mph, blowing past most hitters.
Forza is enjoying her fourth year as a varsity player and showing herself to be a top catcher and athlete.
Beyond the athleticism and fastpitch smarts on the team, Forza said the secret to the team’s success involves both off and on the field commitment.
“A lot of time there is drama and selfishness on teams, but not on this team,” Forza said. “We are more than teammates. We are family. It’s just a fun group of girls. If one of the girls is having a hard time, she will go to the team first.”
Breidenbach said last year was “weird,” being a freshman and the youngest player of the team. But this season, “It’s been a lot of fun playing with these girls and I like not being the youngest. Everyone is so pumped up all the time. It’s like a family.”
Breidenbach knows whether she throws the perfect pitch or not, the players behind her will make a play.
“The whole team is so much fun to play with,” Breidenbach said. “And with Joslin (Pierotti) at second and Sara (Morrow) at short, I have confidence in my team.”
Holding down the position behind the plate is the team general.
“Becky and I have a hand-slap connection,” Breidenbach said. “She is amazing. She’s a wall behind the plate. We’ve known each other a long time. We both played in Little League and we calm each other down.”
Their friendship and fun shows on the field.
Forza started playing outfield and third as a freshman and began catching consistently her junior year.
She said fastpitch is her chosen sport and catching is her favorite position.
“I like being able to see the entire field and how things turn out,” she said.
A top priority for all catchers is working with pitchers and Forza has shown that to be one of her top achievements.
“If Quinn does something wrong she fixes it on the spot,” Forza said. “I just give her a look and she instantly picks it up. Sometimes I go out to mound and she already knows what I’m thinking.”
Freshman Madelyn Carlson is the Hornets’ other pitcher and may prove to be just the weapon the team need a in its drive for the state title.
“Madeline is very quiet and I could tell she was scared the first time,” Forza said. “I went out to the mound and cracked a joke and she was great after that. Both Quinn and Madeline are incredible pitchers.”
Forza and Breidenbach are high .400 hitters on at team of sluggers.
Breidenbach said hitting has been a struggle for her in the past. She said coach Mike Eckhart helped with her approach and, “Now I sing a song in my head when I go up.”
The music works.
Breidenbach said she wants to play college fastpitch and expects to commit to a program in the next few months. She would like to continue to playing fastpitch and study either nursing or biology.
She comes from a family tradition of fastpitch pitchers. Both her mother and grandmother were pitchers.
Pitching and the competitive spirit runs through her veins.
“I love the pressure to succeed,” she said. “And the this year the goal is I want to win state for the seniors.”
Forza brims with Hornet confidence and also plans to play fastpitch at a college and possibly study for a business degree.
“Fastptich keeps me calm and relaxed,” Forza said. And it’s fun to go out and be the team nobody wants to play.”