Prep Preview Softball
Greater Spokane League
Runs, sometimes in short supply in a sport often dominated by pitching, have been plentiful this spring. There is no truly dominant pitcher in the league and pitchers are 43 feet from home plate, compared to 40 feet of past seasons. That will become a national rule next year, but the GSL decided to go with the collegiate distance this season. “You’re not seeing a lot of 2-1 games,” University’s Jon Schuh said.
Mt. Spokane’s Delaney Zalud, East Valley’s Tiffany Lucas, Mead’s Alisha Meade, Shadle Park’s Haylee Cushner and Lewis and Clark’s Kendall Pavey are experienced pitchers. Zalud and Lucas were first-team All-GSL in 2009. … U-Hi returns junior Devynne Johnson and is getting quality innings from freshman Brittany Hecker. … Ferris junior Erika Santarossa returns after an injury-shortened 2009 season. … “Most of the pitchers in the league have been throwing from 43 feet already, but you do see a little more offense,” East Valley first-year coach Ray Riggin said.
A host of first-team selections returns, including Shadle Park’s Megan Skillingstad (C), U-Hi’s Alene Bethel (C), North Central’s Kasara Wise (3B) and Katherine Lively (SS), G-Prep’s Jenn Rambo (SS), Lewis and Clark’s Rachel Head (OF), Mead’s Jill Pecka (OF) and Ferris’ Hilary Johnson (utility). … Mead returns six starters, including Regin Gallagher (SS) and Lauren Stewart (2B) anchoring the middle of the diamond. Mt. Spokane and Ferris also have six starters back. … U-Hi’s Dakota Schiermeister, an All-GSL outfielder last season, is out after tearing her ACL in volleyball. … East Valley’s Allie Riggin (1B/3B), sidelined by a torn ACL last season, is hitting better than .400.
Teams better be on their toes as the early portion of the season demonstrated there isn’t a huge gap between the top and bottom of the league. Mead (6-0) is off to a fast start and preseason favorite University (5-1) is one game behind. “We’re hitting the ball better than I expected coming out of the gate,” Mead coach John Barrington said. After Mead and U-Hi, the standings jumble with seven teams separated by 11/2 games or less. That group includes the five 3A schools. Ferris (1-5) is in last place, but the Saxons have lost twice by one run and once by two runs. “Since we really don’t have a dominant pitcher in the league per se, it’s whoever can catch the ball and make the fewest mistakes on defense that is probably going to win,” Schuh said. Last season was the first time in nearly two decades the GSL didn’t have a State 4A tournament representative. Shadle Park and North Central have been to five straight State 3A tournaments.
Inland Empire League
Lake City freshman Casey Stangel has a 7-1 record. “She’s the real deal,” Coeur d’Alene coach Larry Bieber said. …. Post Falls senior Richelle Ashburn tossed a no-hitter against West Valley and is averaging roughly 14 strikeouts per game. … Coeur d’Alene’s top pitcher is freshman Lindsie Scholwinksi, who would have attended Timberline, but the family relocated from Boise to North Idaho. Timberline beat CdA for the state title last year. … Lewiston struggled on the mound while yielding 22 runs to Lake City in a season-opening doubleheader. … In 4A, senior Jamie Klopatek and sophomore Ashley Metcalf give Lakeland a strong 1-2 combination, but Metcalf is battling a shoulder issue. Sandpoint’s Molly Givens earned second-team all-IEL honors in 2009.
Lake City is loaded on the infield with returning starters Kory Kritz (1B), Jamie Hall (2B), Katie Rowe (SS) and Kallie Neal (3B). Hall was first-team All-IEL last year and Rowe, IEL newcomer of the year in 2009, has already belted four home runs. “We have great leadership with Jamie and Kallie,” LC coach Laura Tolzmann said. … Lewiston features returning first-team selections Shandee Garrett (C) and Jessica Kramer (OF). Nicole Redd had 13 hits in five games at a Boise tournament last week. … Speedy Bri Joseph triggers Post Falls’ attack from the lead-off spot with freshman Rachel Collins and Ashburn in the middle of the order. … Coeur d’Alene’s Jessica Lupinacci (SS), sidelined for part of the 2009 season with a broken wrist, has a .500 batting average. … In 4A, Lakeland’s Alyana Watson (SS), Jordan Thomas (OF), Alia Cox (C) and Chelsea Campbell (3B) have been consistent with the bats. Sandpoint’s Rachel Hammack (SS) was a 2009 first-team selection.
Lake City, which finished third at state a year ago, should be a state title contender. “We’re a very driven group that wants a return trip to state,” Tolzmann said. … Coeur d’Alene is replacing six starters, but the Vikings have talented newcomers. CdA hasn’t missed a state tournament since 2001. “We’re very young,” Bieber said. “That’s our strength and it’s also our weakness.” … Post Falls, which starts four freshmen and two sophomores, should be in the hunt for a state berth. “We’re still trying to figure out a few things, but our young kids have done a good job,” coach Jack Foster said. … Defending 4A regional champ Lakeland has six players with at least three years of varsity experience.
Great Northern League
Colville’s Makayla Carr and West Valley’s Rachel Meagley are returning first-team All-GNL selections and both teams have strong pitchers in Alison Holst (Colville) and Kelli Peckham (West Valley). … Canadian exchange student Meagan Fisher gives Riverside a No. 1 starter. … Clarkston’s Riley Swanson, an all-league selection last year as a utility player, is another solid thrower. … “I think it’s going to be a lot more competitive league,” said Cheney coach Gary Blake, who has coached Fisher on a summer club team the last two years. “There’s a lot more pitching around the league.”
Pullman has a trio of 2009 first-team selections in Katie Guettinger (C), Amy Sterk (INF) and Raina D’Aleo (OF). Other first-teamers returning are Colville’s Tasji Urhausen (utility), Cheney’s Sierra Vijarro (OF) and West Valley’s Candice Boyd (INF). … Six West Valley starters are freshmen and sophomores. … Deer Park has returning experience. “They came on quite a bit last year and I don’t think they had a single senior on their team,” Blake said. “Everybody else lost a couple of key players.”
Colville has been the traditional power. Pullman won the league last year, but Colville bounced back to claim the district title. The Indians went 2-2 at state. Colville remains the team to beat, but the number of contenders is growing. West Valley and Pullman should be in the title chase. Deer Park and Riverside are capable of challenging. “I would have to think Colville (is the team to beat),” West Valley coach Paul Cooley said. “They don’t seem to rebuild, they reload.”