To nobody’s surprise, Colville and Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) continued their softball success this spring.
Deer Park and Riverside stepped up to provide the surprises.
Deer Park (15-6, 13-5) finished second to Colville in the Great Northern League one year after placing fifth. The Stags are seeded second in the District 7 2A tournament, losing to West Valley 11-1 on Thursday.
Riverside (18-2, 16-2) finished runner-up to Lakeside in the Northeast A League one year after an 11-9 season. The second-seeded Rams play Kettle Falls at Saturday’s District 7 1A tournament and are one win away from a berth to the May 18 bi-district in Brewster.
Both teams have improved with the right combination of senior leaders and talented young blood.
Deer Park’s five seniors have blended well with two freshman starters, pitcher Kylie Sweeney and third baseman Carlee Durgeloh. Through Wednesday, Sweeney was 14-3 with 145 strikeouts and 14 walks while Durgeloh had 24 hits, second on the team to junior shortstop Sierra English.
“Obviously, having Kylie has been extremely beneficial,” second-year Stags coach Desiree Sweeney (no relation) said. “We lost three starters from last year, but we had three starters slide in comfortably to those positions.”
Riverside’s three seniors, including second-team all-league returners Jacy Hunt and Brielle Supanchick, have received a strong boost from the sophomore class, led by pitcher Keelin Hunt. Keelin, Jacy’s sister, is 17-2 with 115 strikeouts and an earned-run average of 2.72.
“(Hunt) has just grown as a pitcher and a competitor, and the team is backing her better,” Rams sixth-year head coach Howard Reisenauer said. “She’s throwing harder and her rise ball is much improved.”
Deer Park entered district having won 10 of its last 12 games. Although the Stags are 0-3 against powerhouse Colville, one of those defeats was 1-0.
The Stags started last season 0-9 before winning six straight.
“The girls were so excited (last year) that they didn’t want the season to end,” said Sweeney, the former Springdale and CC Spokane player who coached 11 years at Springdale. “The momentum just continued with the addition of two freshmen starters.”
Another boost came with the return of English, who played at DP as a freshman before her family moved to California for one year. English has a team-best eight doubles and an on-base percentage of .909.
Senior batting leaders are infielder Alyssa Pavlock, catcher/first baseman Julie Jordan and center fielder Ashley Martin. The Stags’ team batting average is .309.
“Our No. 1 rule is to always have fun,” Sweeney said.
Riverside has won 17 consecutive games, including a 7-6 thriller over Lakeside on April 16. Lakeside swept Riverside 14-2, 10-2 to open its season.
“It’s just been a process for us to get the girls to believe they’re a good team,” Reisenauer said. “I don’t know if we were ready at the beginning of the year to show that.”
The Rams also didn’t have Supanchick for their first eight games because of a family vacation. Since returning she has 24 hits, one less than junior Marissa Pace for the team lead.
Riverside has three sibling combinations: the Hunts, Pace and her sophomore sister Hayley, and senior Natalie and sophomore Elisha Workman. The Hunts have combined for 17 doubles and five homers. The Rams have a .352 batting average.
“I keep telling my assistant coach that this is the easiest lineup I’ve ever had to make,” Reisenauer said.
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