This isn’t a last-to-first story, but it’s in the neighborhood.
Ferris was picked to finish 10th (last) in the Greater Spokane League preseason poll, but the surprising Saxons placed fifth, second among 4A schools. They won seven of their last nine games.
The Saxons have qualified for the 4A district championship game for the first time. They’ll face top-seeded Mead on Friday. They’ve clinched a berth to regionals for the first time since 1998, when they last qualified for the state tournament.
“Being picked 10th was the best motivating factor we could have,” coach Laurie Smith said. “They wanted to earn the respect of the Ferris community and the GSL. I’ve been coaching since 1987 and this is the strongest team chemistry I’ve ever been part of.”
The Saxons put together a five-run seventh inning to knock off GSL champion University 6-5 on Friday.
Fittingly, seniors played a key part as Cassie Wendt hit a three-run homer and Iman Gary homered on the ensuing pitch to tie the score. Alissa Wilson’s single drove in the winning run, helping Erika Santarossa earn her 10th win of the season.
“The three seniors (Wendt, Gary and Santarossa), who have started every game the last four years, lost to U-Hi 31-0 when they were freshmen,” Smith said. “They’ve been through the entire gamut. It felt like winning the state championship.”
Santarossa, second-team All-GSL last season, has thrown every pitch over the last three seasons.
“She had mono last year, still pitched. She had tendinitis as a sophomore, threw every pitch,” Smith said. “She’s a great kid.”
3A Districts on deck
University, which won 13 straight prior to losing to Ferris, captured the GSL title for fourth time in coach Jon Schuh’s 12 seasons. Next up is the 3A district title game Friday against the Mt. Spokane-Shadle Park winner.
“That’s great and all, but now you have the next round of games,” Schuh said. “The girls want to move on in the playoffs and do well at regionals.”
T-Wolves roll on
Unbeaten Lake City will entertain fourth-seeded Post Falls while No. 2 Coeur d’Alene and No. 3 Lewiston tangle in Hayden in Region I tournament openers today at 2. The winners meet for the title at LC at 4. The region’s second berth to state will be determined Thursday.
Last week the Timberwolves shut out CdA for the fourth time this season, swept Lewiston and blanked Post Falls.
Central Valley freshman Carli Riordan, who ranked among the GSL’s top pitchers and hitters, is out for the remainder of the season. Riordan had surgery prior to the season in February for a blockage in her intestine and she underwent emergency surgery last Tuesday. Scar tissue was attaching to other tissue and causing kinking.
Riordan is feeling better and hopes to return to school later this week, according to her father, Bill. Riordan was expected to miss six weeks after the first surgery, but she was back pitching in three.
Colville takes title
Colville knocked visiting Lakeside from the unbeaten ranks and claimed the Northeast A title with a 9-2, 11-2 sweep Saturday.
Jolene Rogers (14-1) pitched a pair of complete games. Lakeside had scored at least five runs in every game this season.
Colville’s Amanda Hamilton homered in the opener and finished the day with five hits. Tasji Urhausen homered in the second game.
Great Northern League champion West Valley completed an undefeated regular season by sweeping Clarkston. Kelli Peckham (10-0) fired a first-game shutout, Cassie Finn hit her fifth homer and Jess Mitchell belted her fourth. Brooklyn Robinson had five hits in the two games. Finn and Robinson are both hitting over .600. … Mandy McDowell tossed a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in Cheney’s 9-0 win over Medical Lake. Cheney, which finished second in the GNL, scored 41 runs in three wins last week with Bailey Towey going 7 for 9, Gracie Pitts 6 for 9 and Amy Anderson driving in seven runs. … Timberlake clinched its six straight Intermountain League title with a sweep of St. Maries. The Tigers capped the regular season with a 9-1 win over second-place Priest River. Jenna Hoffman homered and Kodi Kuykendall added a two-run triple.