RICHLAND – The 3A teams held sway throughout the Greater Spokane League fastpitch season, taking three of the top four spots in the standings led by league champion University.
So it made sense Saturday at the 4A/3A Eastern Regional championships at Columbia Playfields that the GSL’s two 3A entries made it through to next weekend’s state tournament in Lacey, while the 4A teams went 0-4 vs. their CBBN competition and were shut out of a state berth for the second time in three years.
Mt. Spokane, which knocked off University in last week’s 3A district final, played in only its second regional final, falling 5-0 to CBBN champion Kamiakin in the title game.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win regionals, but we’re excited to get to go back to state,” said senior shortstop M’Liss Powles, one of five seniors making a second consecutive trip. “Last year, we won our first game ever at state. This year, we want to win at least two games for sure, maybe even the whole thing.”
University, meanwhile, shrugged off a semifinal loss to the Braves, defeating Southridge 2-0 to secure its 12th state berth.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” U-Hi coach Jon Schuh said. “We lost two of our last three coming in, and we struggled at practice this week, so I didn’t know what to expect. But the girls came ready to go.”
Both the Wildcats (18-6) and Titans (19-5) learn their state tournament fates today when the draw is held at WIAA headquarters in Renton.
The Wildcats clinched a state berth by beating Southridge 9-1 in the semifinals.
They stranded six baserunners in the first three innings, but sophomore Kaileene Krauth’s two-run double in the fourth sparked a four-run inning that broke the game open.
“I was just thinking, ‘Finally,’ ”said Krauth, who went 3 for 3 with three RBIs in the win. But Mt. Spokane’s struggles to plate runners returned in the championship game as it left seven on base in the first four innings.
Those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Wildcats in the fifth, when Kamiakin scored twice to double its lead to 4-0.
University also had its chances against Kamiakin in its semifinal matchup, but baserunning mistakes erased two runners in scoring position and the Titans managed only Breann Warren’s solo homer in the sixth.
After getting knocked out in the first game, U-Hi senior Devynee Johnson handcuffed the Suns in the winner-to-state game, limiting them to three hits and not allowing a runner past second base. She struck out five.
Jordan Schmerer tripled home Brittany Connor to give U-Hi a quick 1-0 lead, and Taylor Morales doubled in Jessica Moon with the game’s other run.
Ferris, making its first regional appearance in 13 seasons, came into the tournament on a high note, having beaten University and Mt. Spokane down the stretch of the regular season before knocking off Mead in the district final last week.
That eight-day break, though, squelched the Saxons’ momentum, and they were routed first by the host team, Richland, 10-2 in the semifinals, then by Wenatchee 9-1 in the winner-to-state game.
Richland and Wenatchee ousted the GSL’s other regional qualifiers in the morning openers as Richland beat Central Valley (10-13) 11-6 and Wenatchee downed Mead (14-9) 5-0.
Walla Walla won the regional title, beating Richland 7-4.
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