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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

These M’s are ripping hope right out of our hearts

A GRIP ON SPORTS • In the eighth-inning break last night, I began to think the M’s just could be all right. After all, they had received a great start from James Paxton, had rallied to take a 4-2 lead and were turning the game over to the bullpen. Hope was springing. Read on

Bill Pierce’s almanac: Rogers softball tops list of runner-up finishes

When it comes to winning state championships for baseball and softball, Spokane teams haven’t had much success over the years, with rare exceptions.

West Valley has the only baseball crown, having won the 1978 title in what is now 3A competition. The GSL schools have never won a state championship, in spite of playing in the title game on seven different occasions. North Central and Shadle Park have finished second twice, while Mead, Ferris and Central Valley each has been runner-up once. CV while still a member of the Border League in 1974. 

The girls have two fast pitch softball championships, University in 2003 and Shadle Park in 2007. The Highlanders actually made the title game three years in a row from 2006 through 2008 on the arm of pitching sensation Sam Skillingstad. West Valley finished second twice back in the 1980’s, and Gonzaga Prep and Rogers each made the title game once in their history.

The Rogers girls had quite a run to the softball championship game in 1995.  They had finished third in league that season behind Mead and University. They were second in district playoffs to Mead, but came alive at regionals, beating Moses Lake and Richland before defeating Wenatchee for the GSL’s first ever regional softball title.

At state, which was held at Franklin Park in Spokane, every game Rogers played was decided by one run. They opened with a 3-2 victory over Woodinville, followed by a 1-0 victory over Marysville-Pilchuck and a 2-1 win against Central Kitsap to advance them into the title game against South Kitsap.

Rogers was led all year by the pitching of Traci Moore, who came into the championship game with eight shutouts. The title game was hard fought, but Rogers came up short, losing 1-0. In the final inning the Pirates had a runner on third with Moore at bat, but a game ending fly-out gave the state championship to the Wolves. Still, it was a remarkable run for a team that finished third in its own league. Coach Paul Cooley was very proud of the way his team represented the GSL. Rogers ended the season with a 24-6 record.

A bit distracted today


As I type this, Tiger Woods is teeing it up for his second round at the U.S. Open. Like a lot of you, I am trying to work and keep tabs on what's happening in Pennsylvania. And it isn't easy. Read on.

How would you do batting against her?


Or against any decent female softball pitcher?

You're thinking you would rocket a screamer down the third-base line, but I'm guessing you would pop up.

This is how not to wave the flag


Sometime in the fourth quarter Saturday at Martin Stadium, public address announcer Glenn Johnson asked what was left of the crowd of 31,668 to grab the WSU flags left on their seat for homecoming and wave them. It was an impressive sight as the little flags fluttered and waved to the music. There was only one problem. The flags were white. And the football team took it as a cue to surrender. Read on.

That way lies madness

I overheard a couple of younger men talking about softball. It was clear they took it pretty seriously. And I had half an impulse to warn them.

Careful guys, I might have said. Let this become too important to you and you'll remember certain softball games for the rest of your life.

You doubt me? OK, I'll prove it.

At my first newspaper job, I was on the company slow-pitch team. We weren't loaded with great players, so I was the shortstop. Until, that is, a woman in the ad department started dating this guy named Chuck Heater.

Chuck, who I recall being a nice guy, had been a running back at the University of Michigan about five years before. There was no doubt he was the superior athlete. So I moved to third base.

In our big grudge-match game with the local police department's team, we were down a run in our last at-bat.

Another home run by Chuck could do it for us.

But I hit a line drive right at someone for our last out. Chuck, who batted right after me, never got to come up.

That was more than 30 years ago. And I still remember.

LCHS Softballers Perfect, Win State Title

Near perfection met perfection Saturday afternoon. Lake City sophomore pitcher Casey Stangel no-hit Timberline for 6 2/3 innings as the Timberwolves shut out the Wolves of Boise 2-0 in the State 5A softball tournament championship game that started at Post Falls and ended at Lake City. Stangel handcuffed Timberline, coming within an out of a no-hitter. But what was most important to her was the ending – LC finished the season 26-0. “It’s OK,” Stangel said. “I didn’t need a no-hitter. It’s a team win.” In the game for third place, Centennial handled Mountain View 9-4. In the game for fourth, Rocky Mountain outlasted Coeur d’Alene 5-3 in eight innings/Greg Lee, SR. More here.

Also: Timberlake girls capture state 3A track title/Jordan Rodriguez, special to the SR

Prep baseball, softball notebooks

BASEBALL: Ferris coach Jim Sharkey (pictured above) pulls rare double duty.

SOFTBALL: Shadle Park benefits from transfers, fresh arms.

Rain pushes back softball

University softball coach Jon Schuh enjoys coaching girls for many reasons. One of those reasons was quite evident Friday when the State 4A softball tournament in Tacoma was postponed.

Click here for the story and here for the revised 4A bracket and revised 3A bracket.

Courageous Kennedy catcher

Here’s a interesting softball story from The Seattle Times by Sandy Ringer about outstanding Kennedy catcher Lindsy Dugan, who, beginning at age 12, contracted Alopecia Areata, which causes total baldness.

Kennedy, the defending State 3A champions are ranked sixth in state in a poll compiled by Ringer. University is ranked third in 4A and Shadle Park seventh in 3A.

A new view of softball

Took a departure from the norm to watch Inland Empire League softball yesterday. While it’s difficult to compare, teams from Lake City and Coeur d’Alene doubleheader seemed a little stronger than what I’ve witnessed in the Greater Spokane League. Maybe it was because of my unfamiliarity with them or that I was comparing two teams to the GSL as a whole. The teams had quite a few senior players and it appeared the pitchers threw a tad harder. That said, they were heavily into rise balls.

The Timberwolves Lela Work is headed to Boise State and Vikings Amber Coburn to Delaware State. Also headed to Boise is Viking shortstop Jessica Kraft.

Will GSL softball pitching be as strong?

When I did my Greater Spokane League softball preview this week, the thesis was, what with two-time Washington Gatorade Player of the Year Samantha Skillingstad and Kelsie Vallies graduated, had a pitching era come to an end?

The GSL swept all four state team berths back in 1998 and over 11 years the league averaged 2.5 teams to state behind an array of pitching, peaking between 2003 and 2008 with two state titles (U-Hi and Shadle), two seconds (The Highlanders) and two fourths (Shadle and North Central).

Will this year be different? Mead and Central Valley, pre-season favorites, opened the season with shutout wins.

What are your thoughts?