University blanks NC in key 3A softball game
Alex Douglas joked that she’s working her way down University’s batting order.
Douglas might be on her way back up after her three doubles Tuesday led U-Hi to an 11-0, six-inning win at North Central in a meeting of the Greater Spokane League’s top 3A softball teams.
The sophomore first baseman, batting eighth in a Titans lineup that banged out 15 hits, finished 3 for 3 with two runs and one run batted in. Douglas has hit as high as fifth in U-Hi’s order this year.
“I think it was a pretty good day considering I haven’t hit in quite a few games,” said Douglas, who had one hit in her previous four games. “I had to get back to my old hitting.”
U-Hi (8-2) moved into a three-way tie for first place with Mead, which lost to Mt. Spokane 6-3, and Central Valley, which beat Shadle Park 15-5. NC fell to 7-3.
Douglas doubled off the glove of third baseman Avery Smith to drive in Brooklyn Tacke for a 2-0 lead in the second inning. She opened the fourth with a double to left-center and scored on Rachel Johnson’s one-out single for a 6-0 edge. She led off the Titans’ four-run sixth with a double to center.
“Not many people expect the lower half (of the lineup) to hit,” Douglas said. “I actually prefer to be down there. It’s like you’re another lead-off hitter.”
Douglas also had three hits, including a homer, off NC’s Malia Wash when the Titans beat the Indians 8-5 on March 19. In that game, U-Hi led 6-0 and held on after NC’s five-run fifth.
“The last time we played them we got out early and then thought we could go in a coast mode,” said Titans coach Jon Schuh, who recorded his 300th career win. “And they’re a good-hitting team. They’ve shown that all year.”
U-Hi’s Brittany Hecker (8-2) scattered seven singles, struck out six and walked two. Hecker struck out the last two batters of the game to escape a bases-loaded, no-out situation.
The Titans had hits in every inning and played errorless ball.
“I was happy with how we played today,” Schuh said. “We hit the ball hard, Hecker pitched well, so we did well in all facets of the game today.”
Johnson led off the game with an infield single. She stole second base, moved to third on Ryelynn Mendoza’s sacrifice and scored on Kendra Bruno’s single to right on a 3-1 pitch from Wash.
With two out in the third, Hecker had an RBI single to center for a 3-0 edge. Tacke doubled courtesy runner Aziza Foster to third, but Wash appeared to be out of the jam when she struck out Karly Schuh.
But the third strike was in the dirt and catcher Emily Ebaugh’s throw to first base pulled Hannah Wafstet off the bag. Foster and Tacke alertly scampered home before Schuh was tagged out between first and second.
“I think there were enough people who didn’t know what was going on,” NC coach Rob Kuehn said. “But credit to (the Titans). They did the right thing and kept going.”
Kuehn said he expects to meet the Titans again.
“Everybody knows that the road to state is going to go through U-Hi,” he said. “We’ve said that since Day One.”