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UM building program on strength of Riordan’s arm

Central Valley senior Carli Riordan is the kind of fast-pitch softball player you build a team around. She’s a dominant pitcher, yes, but she’s also the kind of player teammates want to play behind.

CV leads the Greater Spokane League on the strength of Riordan’s right arm. In two games last week Riordan struck out 35 opposing batters, recording a no-hitter against Gonzaga Prep and just two hits in a win over Ferris.

That, in a nutshell, is why the University of Montana will begin to build its fast-pitch program around Riordan – making her the signature signee in their first recruiting class of six players.

“Carli is a tough competitor on the mound and has a lot of upside,” Montana coach Jamie Pinkerton wrote of the signing. “She has a good curveball and a good up ball. We’ll work to make her down ball and changeup a little bit stronger. If we can work on some down stuff, we can make her better and more effective.

“There is more in the tank, more she’ll be able to bring to the game. There is a lot more we can develop mentally, physically, pitch-wise. Her ceiling is pretty high.

“She probably throws in the low 60s now. With her size, if we tweak a few things with her mechanics, she can pick up a mile or two more per hour.”

The mechanics of what Riordan can do from the pitcher’s circle is what got her the radar of Division I colleges: the strikeout totals, the no-hitters, the wins.

What got her the full-ride scholarship offer is the intangibles that don’t show up in the scorebook: She’s highly coachable – CV coach Joe Stanton asked her to concentrate on getting ahead of hitters this year by throwing first-pitch strikes (more than 90 percent of the batters she’s faced this year have started their at bat with Strike One); she’s mentally tough (if she gets in trouble, as she did in one inning against Ferris, she has the ability to dig down and find a little something extra – she walked a pair of hitters against Ferris and had the bases loaded with just one out and struck out the next two hitters on four pitches); and she’s the consummate teammate.

Spokane Valley players at WSU

A pair of Spokane Valley players have enjoyed strong spring workouts at Washington State.

University High graduate Joe Dahl started at left guard for the Cougars a year ago, but prior to the team’s bowl game with Colorado State coach Mike Leach had the left side of the line switch positions: Dahl moved to left tackle and Gunnar Eklund shifted inside to left guard.

“I just thought that Joe Dahl has good enough hands and quick enough feet that he could handle it out there against defensive ends and I wanted to get Gunnar Eklund inside so that he could help out this year because we’re going to have to find a new, young center,” Leach told a Spokane Cougar Club luncheon a week before last weekend’s Crimson and Gray game at Albi Stadium.

West Valley’s Mitch Peterson has made a habit out of making transitions at Washington State.

There’s the obvious transition from Paul Wulff to Mike Leach, of course, but the former Eagle also has made the shift from being a walk-on, who had to pay for his training table meals out of pocket (under NCAA rules), to earning a scholarship at the start of his junior season. And now he’s making the transition from being a hard-hitting safety to playing linebacker, pushing hard for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart and insuring himself a good deal of time on the field this fall.

“He’s battling with Cyrus (Coen) right now for the 1 spot; he’s pushing him pretty hard,” linebackers coach Ken Wilson said. “I think Paris Taylor has done some good things there, too, but since we got back from the bowl game I would say Mitch has improved more than any of my guys so I’m pretty happy about that.”

Coaching changes

Coaching changes are inevitable in high school sports, and a pair of basketball coaches have stepped down.

Drew Vanderpool resigned as head boys basketball coach at East Valley after 27 seasons, saying he looked forward to spending Christmas and Thanksgiving with his family for a change.

Greg Lee tweeted Saturday that East Valley would promote junior varsity coach Jason Wilson to take over the Knights’ varsity.

Freeman athletics director Brian Parisotto will once again look for a new head boys basketball coach.

John Graham was the fourth head coach in five seasons when he was hired four years ago. When he stepped down, he pointed out that he was leaving the cupboard far from bare for his successor.

“There are four starters back and a lot of reserves who saw time,” Graham told Lee.

He didn’t mince words over why he was leaving the job.

“I’m old and tired of dealing with parents,” he said. “Ninety percent of the parents are great. I love coaching and the kids too much to be constantly defending what I do. I have no hard feelings. Maybe they can find somebody else who will do a better job.”

Reach correspondent Steve Christilaw at steve.christilaw@

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