May 1, 2012 in Sports

Rain-plagued GSL season sloshes toward end

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Greater Spokane League softball teams had just caught up on all the makeup dates caused by rainouts last Wednesday when another round of games was lost Thursday.

Those games were made up Saturday. But with a week left in the regular season and the forecast calling for more rain, completing a league schedule is doubtful.

To say GSL coaches have had enough is putting it mildly.

“It seems like we’ve been chasing one or two (makeups) all season,” Mead coach John Barrington said. “I’m really worried about this week with the end of the season coming.”

Last Wednesday was just the second outdoor practice Mead has had since returning from spring break. Days that would have been used for practice were needed for rescheduled games.

“We’ve got a lot of games left because of wonderful Mother Nature,” said University coach Jon Schuh, whose league-leading Titans (12-1) ended last week with a three-game lead over Mead, Mt. Spokane and Central Valley, each at 9-4.

Titans rolling

The defending league champion Titans have just one blemish on their league record, that coming in a 4-1 loss to Central Valley on April 12.

Junior pitcher Brittany Hecker (11-1, 2.08 ERA) has been one of U-Hi’s key players.

“She’s been with us since her freshman year and pitched parts of her freshman and sophomore years,” Schuh said.

“But she had never been the true No. 1 until this year. She’s hitting her spots much better than she has in the past. She’s maturing as a pitcher.”

Schuh also credits several veteran players around Hecker.

“We brought back a veteran crew,” Schuh said.

Take senior first baseman Hailey Wesselman, for example. She leads U-Hi in hitting (.633) and was second best in the league through last week behind Gonzaga Prep’s Julia Rambo (.667). Wesselman also leads the Titans in RBIs (19) and home runs (two).

“She’s having a phenomenal season,” Schuh said. “We saw glimpses of it last year. She got hurt toward the end last year. This year she’s been healthy and has definitely been an RBI and hit machine for us.”

Title not secure yet

While they have a three-game lead, the Titans still have some work this week to capture a second straight league title.

U-Hi, which has won eight in a row, visits Mt. Spokane this afternoon at 4 – weather permitting. The Titans get a chance at redemption against CV when they entertain the Bears on Thursday.

It could be a pitching duel between Hecker and Mt. Spokane senior Katelyn Bauman (7-3).

“It’s not a surprise that she’s been throwing well,” Mt. Spokane coach Carl Adams said of Bauman. “She’s been steady for us.”

Bauman put in some extra time last winter to get ready for this spring.

“I worked really hard over the winter to get better, and it’s paying off,” said Bauman, who also has two saves. “I’ve had some really great games and a couple of bad games as well. I really wanted to do well since this is my last year.”

It won’t be her last year playing, though. Bauman has given an oral commitment to College of the Siskiyous, a junior college in Weed, Calif.

Postseason seeding

With the final week of play up in the air, seeding for district tournaments is also a big question mark.

While U-Hi has the inside track for the top seed in 3A and an automatic berth into regionals, Mead and Central Valley are battling for the top spot in 4A.

Shadle Park (6-7) and North Central (5-8) are fighting for the third and final district seed in 3A while Gonzaga Prep (6-7) and Lewis and Clark (5-8) are jockeying for the third and fourth seeds in 4A.

Barrington has been overly pleased with his team. The Panthers brought back two seniors, but lost one of them, outfielder Jessica Ellis, to a broken ankle just after spring break.

“We were a little bit inexperienced coming into the season,” Barrington said.

Senior first baseman Kaitlyn Huggins is leading the team in hitting (.471).

Junior Hannah Beloved (6-3) and freshman Kylie Bremner (3-1) have shared time pitching.

“Our pitching has been solid,” Barrington said. “I like to think we have two of the top kids in the league in our program. They have really battled.”

NC visits Shadle today in a game that’s critical to deciding the third seed. The Highlanders topped the Indians 7-4 earlier this month.

Shadle is coming off a big 10-4 win over Mt. Spokane on Saturday that snapped a three-game losing streak, two of the losses to U-Hi (7-1 and 15-2).

NC, which has lost four in a row, had a nice win April 9 when it knocked off CV 2-1.

Alana Norman leads Shadle in hitting (.526) while Jaclyn Thomas-Bordner has led NC (.423).

Another title run

Lake City, the 5A defending Idaho state champ, has picked up where it left off last year. And the Timberwolves (19-1 overall) may very well be better than the team that went 26-0 last spring.

Left-handed junior pitcher Casey Stangel leads the T-Wolves on the mound and at the plate with mind-numbing statistics. She’s 18-1 with a 0.21 ERA, allowing just three earned runs in 19 games. She also has 159 strikeouts.

Stangel, who has given the University of Missouri an oral commitment, is hitting a team-leading .603. She’s tied for the team lead in home runs with senior shortstop Katie Rowe at 10 each, and Stangel also leads the team in RBIs (52).

Four other T-Wolves are batting over .400. They are: freshman center fielder JaeCie Wilson (.576), sophomore catcher Vanessa Shippy (.509), senior first baseman Kory Kritz (.509) and Rowe (.436), who has given an oral commitment to the College of Idaho in Caldwell. LC’s team batting average is .439, 29 points higher than last year.

“We’ve been swinging the bats really well and putting up some amazing numbers,” said LC coach Laura Tolzmann.

The T-Wolves have 28 home runs, three more than last year, and 65 stolen bases. Shippy is the team leader with 27.

“Overall, we have more speed than last year and more options,” Tolzmann said. “We have three left-handed batters at the top of the lineup, which is pretty uncommon.”

LC’s lone loss – 1-0 on a one hitter – came in late March to Meridian in a tourney in Boise. Meridian’s hit was a home run.

• LC locked up the top seed to the 5A regional tournament long ago.

• Lakeland (12-6) has secured the top seed to the 4A regional tourney.


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