As far as baseball seasons go, last year treated the Greater Spokane League well.
Three schools – Gonzaga Prep, Mead and Mt. Spokane – reached State 4A or 3A rounds of 16. Ferris and University came close. It had been 25 years since the last time a G-Prep Bullpups team went as far as last year’s top-eight finish.
Coaches are not sure when, or if, the GSL ever had that much combined success.
“I feel like our league is really pushing each other to improve,” weighed in Wildcats coach Alex Schuerman, whose Mt. Spokane team lost a nonleague game 7-6 to perennial power Richland a week ago. “We’re closing the game on the Tri-Cities.”
Ferris coach Jim Sharkey echoed him. “We’re starting to knock off Big Nine teams who used to eat us up pretty bad.”
That said, the Bullpups are the one most likely poised to repeat last season’s success.
They boast two teams’ worth of baseball talent – 22 players capable of seeing game time – that had Shadle Park coach Ron Brooks quipping, “We played them in the jamboree and some of their kids came to our dugout because there wasn’t enough room (in theirs).”
“We truly have two or three players to fill every position that we can put in a game and count on,” G-Prep coach Brian Munhall said. “As challenging as it is (making a lineup), it will truly allow them to get better.”
Players are looking over their shoulders and working hard to earn every inning and at-bat, Munhall continued. And with the wealth of experience, coaches can spend more time working on the fine points of the game, rather than the basics.
As for pitching? “I have more arms than I know what to do with, which is quite a blessing,” Munhall said.
One of those arms, junior Zac Regel, who threw two no-hitters for Mead last year, will be watching from the dugout however, deemed ineligible due to his transfer. Prep is appealing to the state.
“You can’t control what happens,” Mead Panthers coach Jason Reich said. “Good luck, and we’re moving on with the guys we have here.”
Both Ferris and Mead are rebuilding. Mt. Spokane has a strong returning core, young Shadle Park is on the rise and University always contends in 3A. Both Lewis and Clark and North Central have new coaches in Steve Bennett and Barry Matthews, respectively.
Coaches also talked thankfully for mild, dry weather that, unlike recent years, has allowed them to practice outside and get more done.
But first league games begin today and Brooks, ever pragmatic, joked, “It’ll get bad in a hurry.”
Sure enough, it was raining on Wednesday.
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