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GSL baseball: Moon no-no clinches title

Billy Moon pitched University top its second straight Greater Spokane League title with an 8-0 no-hitter at Mead. The Titans can become the first to win 19 league games, I was told by coaches, if they beat the Panthers at home on Friday. Moon’s breaking pitches were nearly unhittable and he offset it with a fastball judicious use of the plate to stifle what may be the best hitting team in league. The Panthers didn’t help themselves on defense.

Here’s a look at tomorrow’s story:

 

Time to think prep baseball post-season

League championships will be determined this week in Greater Spokane League and Great Northern League baseball. University (17-1), which is assured a title tie and was ranked No. 1 in the Washington State baseball poll this week, hosts Mead (15-3) tomorrow with a chance to lock up another undisputed title at home. U-Hi’s high ranking is flattering, but is probably unrealistic given the GSL’s baseball history. Still, being league champs and a regional participant is an accomplishment enough.

Cheney (11-1) leads Clarkston (10-2) and Pullman (9-3) in the GNL race and hosts the Greyhounds Friday in a doubleheader to determine the titlists. For more on the Blackhawks, check out my weekly prep notebook.

 

Patience at the plate can pay dividends

Having sat through countless college softball games this spring and witnessing the Mead-Central Valley Greater Spokane League baseball game Thursday afternoon, I remain mystified how impatient hitters can be. Panther Cody Lunt had been brilliant for five innings against the Bears, but his relief, Kramer Kembel, was struggling in the sixth, hitting two batters in succession to force in a run. Rather than wait Kembel out, the next Bears batter took his hacks on the first pitch. Kembel got out of the inning and Mead won 7-4.

It’s happened so often at the college level in softball (and in high school where batters chase the high rise ball) that it makes you wonder if hitters think it a crime to walk. At certain times in a game, working the count and accepting a base on balls is the appropriate thing to do.

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.

High school season at crunch time

Another of my favorite Greater Spokane League coaches, one highly respected by his peers, is calling it quits. Mike Haugen, who coached Gonzaga Prep boys basketball to fourth place in state, is stepping down to concentrate on his passion for history.

I respect both Haugen and Lewis and Clark’s Tom Yearout, a state title football winner who resigned his post earlier, for their candor and introspective analysis during post-game interviews. If things went wrong, they pulled no punches. When things went right, they had a way of explaining why that cut to the heart of the outcome. There were never excuses, both men comfortable in their coaching approach that they seemingly accepted both wins and losses with equal aplomb. There was no bluster, no hyperbole.

The late Dave Holmes once told me he was a boring quote, partly why he was not popular, although immensely successful at the University of Hawaii. When I sat down to discus football with him, I found him fascinating. That is the same with Mike and Tom. They were not only winners, but are good persons. They will be sorely missed.

Also in my Prep Notebook this week: 

Wild Albi soccer twin bill

There was excitement and controversy during Wednesday’s Albi Stadium Greater Spokane League doubleheader.

East Valley won a shootout 2-1 over North Central and with two wins would overhaul the Indians for the top 3A regional seed. The Knights goal in regulation came during a bone-jarring collision between scorer Andrew Mastronardi and NC keeper Garrett Brickey who declared he suffered whiplash while securing the ball.

Ferris beat University 3-2 in a contest that had more than its share of contrversy and secured undisputed fourth place. My story is below.

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.

Spring is Prep sports’ quickest season

Baseball and softball play as many games in spring as basketball does in winter. Soccer teams play as many matches as wrestlng teams wrestle in the Greater Spokane League. But it all seems to pass so quickly. Already thoughts of district and regional playoffs are approaching. Regular seasons end as early as May 1, just 10 days away. Then it’s state qualifying time.

With half of the sports contested during this seemingly brief window, it’s difficult to keep track of accomplishments, let alone keep up with results. Does it seem to fly by as quickly for you? Today’s prep notebook in The Spokesman-Review, briefly summarized some of the doings.

GSL baseball not quite like last year

Having watched a handful of Greater Spokane League games and corresponding with followers of other leagues, it is becoming apparant how special last year was, even if the GSL didn’t advance anyone to the state’s Final Four. Pitching is average at best, which will make for interesting and unpredictable outcomes and unless the rest of the state is comparable, it’s difficult to imagine local teams advancing far. That said, University is ranked fifth among State 4A teams in the latest coaches poll and sixth by Tom Wyrich at The Seattle Times.. The caveat? Southridge from the Columbia Basin Big Nine is No. 1 and Richland No. 3 and vice versa at the Times. That’s a tough region nut to crack.

Cheney and Clarkston are 5th and 10th in 2A and Lakeside is 7th in 1A as voted by coaches.

 

Thriller between Valley rivals

It sounded like the Central Valley-University Greater Spokane League baseball game, won by the Bears 5-4 in the 10th inning, had a little bit of everything. There were five home runs, five doubles, bang-bang plays on defense and maybe a misstep or two before the outcome was decided on winning pitcher Scott Simon’s sacrifice fly. Simon pitched the distance..

I missed it, was at the U-Hi-CV softball game, won by the Titans 7-6. But the two baseball teams are at it again at CV today, 4 p.m., and I’ll be there. Hopefully the game can be just as thrilling.

For Hughes it’s business as usual

New Lewis and Clark football coach Dave Hughes doesn’t expect a whole lot of change when he assumes the reins of the Tigers program. The program has always had a collegial approach with input from the entire staff. He’s just taking his turn doing the administrative bookkeeping tasks. “I’ve had meetings all week,” Hughes told me. He got his start as an assistant at Rogers before becoming an assistant at LC. But you can read all that in my Prep Page column in today’s S-R.

Track (and Field) is where it’s at

Dave Trimmer wrote his preview story and capsules today in The Spokesman-Review as the Greater Spokane League season gets underway. The sport showcases a wealth of talent, many of the athletes multiple sport types. His focus is on Central Valley’s Brad Whitley, one such three-sport standout who is a runner at heart. The Bears and Mead, last year’s one-two boys finishers, square off at Rogers today.

Showdowns in GSL

The Valley is the place to be today and tomorrow for area baseball and softball fans. Greater Spokane League baseball unbeaten University hosts Central Valley at 4 p.m. today while leaders Titans and Bears square off at CV in softball. CV and Mead baseball teams each have a loss behind the Titans. CV, U-Hi, Mead and Shadle Park all have a loss in softball.

 I also had a quick preview of the Great Northern and Northeast A Leagues in softball today in The Spokesman-Review. Colville will be favored in 2A, but any of four teams look to contend. Lakeside should have the 1A upper hand.

Colville beat Pullman, the GNL baseball favorite, last night. I did the GNL preview last week. Lakeside is off to a good start in the NEA, this week beating defending champion Freeman convincingly.

 

Finances concern at WIAA meeting

A quick pass through the WIAA Executive Board meeting in March indicates a district-wide concern about the economics of high school sports. State tourney revenue didn’t meet projections due to a decline in 2A and 3A class basketball attendance. However, the wrestling/gymnastics tournament showed an increase.

Travel pooling, league realignments, cutting schedules or middle school sports and state tournament changes were all talked about when district representatives gave their reports.

Here are some areas I highlighted:

Spring break for most prep teams

This week is the lull before the storm for high school spring sports. Except for a handful of contests, teams are on a break, but when they return beginning April 6, there are about five weeks of regular season remaining. Three more weeks of postseason and the 2008-09 season ends - the last gasp for this year’s seniors. What with weather and the holiday a lot must get done in little time.

GSL baseball, softball and soccer teams are farthest a long, about quarter of the way through with baseball scheduled for games this week. Other league action is just underway and some sports, track and golf, don’t get going until after the holiday. My Prep Notebook in The Spokesman-Review today addressed some of the doings, including the injuries that continue to best Mt. Spokane baseball the past few seasons.

I’ll be on the road to California the rest of this week for Central Washington University softball in my daughter Linse’s final tournament of her career, which - typical of the spring - has about a month remaining. Then it’s hit the ground running for the high school season ending rush.

 

Good day (week) for Panthers

Friday was a particularly good day of a good week for Mead baseball and softball teams. The Panthers boys kept up the torrid offense (although Shadle Park to its credit matched ‘em) in a 12-9 victory at Al K. Jackson Field. Of Mead’s 10 hits, two were doubles, two triples and a home run. Seth Peterson hit is third homer, a 3-run bomb, and doubled. Grant Fink doubled, Jake Schrader and Tyler Benson tripled. But the team nearly let a 12-1 lead get away because: Taylor Raynor had three hits including a double. Luke Jordan had two hits and a double. Tyler Pfeffer had three hits and doubled twice among the Highlanders 13 base knocks.

As for the girls, following back-to-back wins over Central Valley and University, the Panthers are now tied with the Titans for first place with 4-1 records. CV and Shadle Park are half a game behind heading into spring break. Mead beat U-Hi Friday 5-4 on Emma Barrington’s bases loaded single. Barrington, whose dad John is the coach, and Breanna Lookabill each had two hits. It looks like it’s going to be quite a race for two 4A regional berths.

Bryan Peterson gets an interview

It looks like Bryan Peterson is headed for long season low A ball with Greenville in the South Atlantic League with the Red Sox organization. Here’s an interview with the ex-West Valley athlete on the Sox Prospects blog (you can even check out his YouTube contributions).

Mt. Spokane’s Jarek Cunningham re-injured his knee after an impressive debut last summer in the Pittsburge organization.

First week of GSL baseball enlightening

Two pitchers remain from the group that made Greater Spokane League baseball so exciting last year. I did a profile on one, Billy Moon from University, and will follow up with Jake Partridge as the season goes on.

Teams got their first home and home doubleheader out of the way last week and not surprisingly the Titans and Central Valley, last year’s regional qualifiers, are among them. The Bears should be a force, even if junior oriented, if the new pitching staff replaces last year’s sure thing Rusty Shellhorn, and pro signee Trevor Shull. All the other pieces are in place with a dozen players back. Getting past the Rogers Pirates twice, including in extra innings, was huge. U-Hi doubled up Gonzaga Prep convincingly.

Shadle Park figured to be improved, but the Highlanders took a nice step by beating Mt. Spokane 8-2 and 8-1. And East Valley enhanced its 3A post-season prospects by whipping North Central 13-2 and 11-1.

So - after a week -  here’s your chance to guess the best. This was my take  when I previewed the season last week. Mead has yet to play so this week’s games against Rogers and Shadle Park will help sort things out.

Mercer Island coach retires

As long as we’re in Seattle picking up news and notes, a few things of interest to share with you.

Legendary Mercer Island boys basketball coach Ed Pepple retired Friday and yes, there is a note about the Shadle Park game from 25 years ago.

Local players dot the rosters for an all-star boys basketball series tonight (this link includes John Olerud going into the WIAA Hall of Fame) and the East-West football game, which is in Everett this summer.

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?

Remembering Dave Sanders

A lot of great athletes have passed before my eyes over the past five decades, but one of the more compelling was David Sanders, who 24 years ago set a single season Greater Spokane League scoring record - before the advent of the 3-point arc - that held up until the Adam Morrison, Josh Heytvelt era nearly 20 years later. I caught up with him a few weeks back and had an interesting chat. His interesting story is the topic of our weekly Then and Now series. 

Winter is officially over

Winter (sports) is over. I can officially now proclaim it spring. Hopefully the weather takes heed. And quite a winter it was. My prep notebook in Tuesday’s Spokesman-Review wraps things up.

In part it was look ahead, with a new football coach, Brian Gardner, chosen at North Central. In part it was look back on the second and third state places of Shadle Park and West Valley girls that brought closure to nearly three months of basketball.

 

Gallant effort by Highlanders

No question Shadle Park has the second-best 3A girls basketball team in the state. Keep rearding for the unedited game story from its championship game loss to Kennedy Saturday night.

 

Rogers eliminated

Rogers came up short against Foster. Keep reading for the unedited game story.

Shadle girls win, semi moved to 7

They just announced Shadle park’s semifinal game in the girls tournament has been moved to 7 p.m. because of a conflict for Meadowdale boys and girls.

The Highlanders are in the semifinals courtesy of a 52-39 win over Prairie. Keep reading for my unedited story that will appear in Frida’s paper.

 

Short-handed Pirates win

Rogers did more with less on Thursday, keeping its season alive despite behind short-handed, with a hard-fought grinder with Capital.

Keep reading for the unedited story that will appear in tomorrow’s paper, combined with the Shadle boys.

 

Who is Therone Tillett?

Rogers advances in the State 3A tournament with double digit efforts by Jesse Vaughan (22 points), Pat McCabe (13) and Dillon Franklin (12). But the guy tough when the Pirates began to pull away in the second half and in particular down the stretch was Therone Tillett. He played nary a varsity game until being rostered for post-season and scoring a basket against Mt. Spokane in district prior to state in today’s 68-59 win over Capital to remain alive for a trophy, Tillett scored nine points, including a 3-pointer, 4-for-4 from the free throw line with a couple assists and a steal. Heckuvan addition to the roster.

Dave Trimmer will have more.

Shadle boys eliminated

Talk about one that got away, the Shadle Park boys basketball team had its season end when Lakes rallied for an overtime win.

Anthony Brown had an outstanding game but his miscues contributed to the Highlanders’ demise.

Read on for the unedited version of the story that will be in Friday’s paper.

Quick review

Flipping between courts, it’s hard to see enough of every game at the State 3A basketball tournaments but I’ll throw some observations at you from the Tacoma Dome if you’ll click on the link below.

Shadle girls coast

Sorry it took so long to get this story to you. The girls court was running 70 minutes late by the time Shadle Park tipped off. Fortunately at halftime the game was decided but before the end I had to move to the boys court for the Rogers game. Then, of course, I had two stories to write, but, better late than never, click below for my unedited Shadle park girls story.