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NC triumphs to claim share of GSL crown

Indians Lauren Hare, left, Avery Smith (7), Emily Ebaugh and Malia Wash (12) lead celebration of NC’s 7-5 win over Mt. Spokane on Friday. (Colin Mulvany)
Indians Lauren Hare, left, Avery Smith (7), Emily Ebaugh and Malia Wash (12) lead celebration of NC’s 7-5 win over Mt. Spokane on Friday. (Colin Mulvany)

It’s first softball championship for Indians since 1985

Attention, all members of North Central’s 1985 softball team: Current NC coach Rob Kuehn would like to hear from you.

Kuehn’s 2013 NC softball team joined the school’s ’85 team as the only two to win Greater Spokane League titles when the Indians held off visiting Mt. Spokane 7-5 Friday to close the regular season.

Kuehn said his current group has no known ties to the NC title team that preceded Central Valley’s dominance in the late 1980s.

“I haven’t heard anything from anyone,” Kuehn said. “It’d be nice if somebody came forward, though.”

Junior shortstop Lauren Hare had three runs batted in as the Indians (15-3) responded each time the Wildcats (10-8) made a move. Senior Malia Wash (14-3) stranded runners at second and third base in the seventh by getting her pitching counterpart, Alexa Adams, to ground out to Hare.

“We were hoping from the start (of the season),” Hare said. “We knew that we had a great team and had a solid shot, and it became more real every game.”

NC tied for the title with CV, which closed out the league season with a 12-3 home win over Rogers. CV won its last seven league games following a 1-0 loss to NC on April 18 that completed a two-game sweep of the Bears for the Indians.

NC closed the regular season with eight consecutive wins after an 11-0 home loss to University on April 16. U-Hi (14-4) lost its shot at being co-champions with NC and CV by dropping a 5-3 game at Mead (13-5) Friday.

“This is a huge step for our program, for our school,” Kuehn said. “These girls have worked so hard. They believe in each other. They’re a family; we’re a family. It’s a big deal. It means a lot at the school. It’s predominantly a running school, so it’s nice to get a ball sport championship and finally get something in the trophy case.”

The Wildcats, who lost to NC 1-0 on April 12, pushed the Indians the entire game.

Mt. Spokane broke in front 2-0 in the first after Shania Lawrence walked with two out. Cleanup hitter Markee Jackson hit a fly to right that landed just fair. NC right fielder Kiki Ortega made a wild throw to the infield, allowing Lawrence and Jackson to score.

NC answered with a three-run first, aided by three Mt. Spokane errors. Hannah George capped the inning with an RBI single to center that scored Hannah Wafstet.

Ortega reached on an infield error to lead off NC’s second. Wafstet singled her home with one out, and Hare followed with a grounder to shortstop that scored Emily Ebaugh for a 5-2 lead.

Mt. Spokane cut the deficit to 5-4 in the third, assisted by two NC infield errors. Jackson lined a double over center fielder Tamiya Tisdale’s head to score Lawrence for the second run of the inning.

Hare and Abby Nelson had back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth for a 7-4 cushion. Over the last four innings, Wash limited the Wildcats to Kaylee Draine’s RBI single to center in the fifth.

“(Mt. Spokane) kept scoring more runs, but we had a response every time,” Hare said.

“We had a good approach at the plate,” Kuehn said. “We never caved in, we stuck to it. That’s been our credo.”

All GSL teams except ninth-place Ferris and 10th-place Rogers advance to next week’s district tournaments at Whitworth.

All four 3A teams have automatically qualified for the following week’s regional tournament and use the district tourney for seeding purposes. No. 3 Mt. Spokane and No. 4 Shadle Park play at 3 p.m. Wednesday with the loser getting the No. 4 seed to regional. No. 1 NC and No. 2 U-Hi play for the district title and No. 1 regional seeding at 3 p.m. Thursday. The loser will play the Mt. Spokane-Shadle winner at 3 p.m. Friday for the second and third regional seeds.

Just two of four 4A teams will advance from district to regional. No. 3 Lewis and Clark and No. 4 Gonzaga Prep play at 5 p.m. Wednesday in a loser-out game. No. 1 CV and No. 2 Mead meet at 5 p.m. Thursday for the district title and No. 1 seed to regional. That loser meets the LC vs. G-Prep winner at 5 p.m. Friday for the second seed to regional.

“I’m just really excited to take it one game at a time and see where we can go,” Hare said.