Joe Stanton spent Thursday afternoon looking for the silver lining in the storm clouds that washed out his Central Valley Bears’ scheduled fastpitch softball showdown at University.
“We’re going to play this one on Tuesday,” the first-year fastpitch coach said. “The weather report calls for sunny and 70 degrees, so maybe we can actually play a game in warm weather.
“If that doesn’t work, maybe we can play an indoor game of whiffle ball.”
Postponing the game takes some of the luster off the rematch between district rivals.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Stanton said. “We’re in second place right now for a reason and I think our kids always look forward to playing U-Hi. You spend the day getting mentally prepared to play and then the game gets called. What can you do?”
The game was big for a number of reasons.
For starters, CV is the only team to blemish U-Hi’s record this season. The Titans were 15-1, 14-1 in the Greater Spokane League going into Thursday. Already guaranteed a share of the GSL championship, a win by the Titans could have given them the title outright and avenged their only loss.
A chance at revenge will have to wait until Tuesday, but the Titans had makeup games scheduled for Friday against Ferris and Monday against North Central and, barring a big upset, will clinch the crown before facing CV.
For the Bears, it was a chance to stay in the hunt for the top seed out of Class 4A into the regional tournament. Central Valley was tied with Mead, both with 11-4 records and three games left in the regular season.
Stanton, the school’s fall slowpitch coach, points to his team’s pitching for the team’s success.
“We’ve been pitching great, I just wish we could score a few more runs for (our pitchers),” he said. “We just have had a devil of a time scoring very many runs. And still our pitchers go out there and shut teams down inning after inning, waiting for our offense to give them something.”
For sophomore pitcher Carli Riordan, the lack of offense is just something the team has to deal with. “I still try to do the same thing,” she said. “I still have to make my pitches and hit my spots. I don’t do anything different.”
She did admit, however, that the late cancelation left her all-day case of nerves for naught.
“I was nervous the last time we played them and this time it was all the same, only more,” she said. “University has a lot of very, very, very dangerous hitters and I was looking forward to pitching against them.”
Riordan will be the Bears pitcher through what’s left of the regular season and the playoffs.
Carissa Sdao suffered a concussion Tuesday against Ferris and is done for the season.
“It was scary to see that play develop,” Riordan said. “You hate to see a teammate get hurt, and in my mind I could see that happening to me, too.”
Riordan has posted seven wins in eight decisions, has an earned run average of 1.47 and notched 112 strikeouts.
“Carli is second in the league in strikeouts,” Stanton said. “She’s 10 behind the league leader and if you look at the games they’ve all played, the other leaders have all pitched in 16 or 17 games. Imagine what Carli would have if she played in that many games. It’s been amazing. I knew she was pretty good coming into the season and she’s been everything I’d heard and more.”
Sdao’s record was 4-1, with an ERA of 2.37.
“Carissa has been right there with Carli,” Stanton said. “She throws a great drop ball and can change speeds. Carli is more of a power pitcher. She throws a great rise ball and a terrific curve.”
If the weather does warm up for Tuesday’s rematch, watch out.
“When the weather warms up my ball moves a lot more,” Riordan said. “I’m a movement pitcher anyway. I rely on my ball moving, and when it’s warm it’s a lot better. When it’s cold, like it’s been all season, I just don’t have that same feel for the ball because my hands are cold.”
In the first game with U-Hi, Riordan struck out nine as the Bears took a 4-1 lead. The Titans scored two in the fifth inning before Riordan and the CV defense stepped up to stop the rally.
Riordan said she began working with former University of Washington player Alicia Blake over the winter – a change from her past pitching coaches.
“I love working with a college player because it just helps me visualize what it will be like someday,” she said. “I want to play college softball, but I still have a lot of time left before that happens. I’m still a kid.”
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