Baseball: Final month of the regular Greater Spokane League baseball season began Tuesday, and the week through next Tuesday promises to answer some questions.
So far, the league is going the way I envisioned with district rivals Mt. Spokane and Mead at the top and Rogers, after a slow start, in the thick of the fray.
What sets those teams apart is their pitching experience, even if the Pirates still are awfully young afield.
But even if teams are eight or 10 games into their 20-game schedules, nothing is for sure.
Back-to-back games, including today at Mt. Spokane between the first-place Wildcats (now 10-1) and second-place Panthers (7-2), headline a week of interesting contests.
So far, Mt. Spokane has been as dominant in pitching as expected. An example of how dominant it has been was its doubleheader sweep of Shadle Park in which Paul Smith threw a no-hitter and Nic Fowler a two-hitter in the shutout wins. Before Tuesday’s games, its only loss was to Gonzaga Prep, 2-1, and its pitchers had allowed a mere 15 runs in 10 games.
Mead hasn’t been quite as stingy, although David Hennessey, who has thrown a couple of one-hit shutouts, and sophomore Chris Allen have taken the burden off last year’s workhorse, Matt Walsh.
The Panthers take on Ferris on Friday and next Tuesday. The Saxons (6-3) play North Central twice before that, hoping to hang onto their share of third place. The Indians (5-6), another team I figured would contend, seek to move back into the thick of things.
Several other teams will determine where they stand in a hurry in a pair of home-and-home series. It’s getting to be crunch time for Gonzaga Prep (3-8), which faces University (7-2) and Rogers (4-5).
The Pirates first finish two games with Central Valley (5-6), and the Titans play NC. Improved Shadle Park (4-6) also is in the playoff picture with games against Lewis and Clark and CV upcoming.
Depending on the outcomes, there may be more questions than answers when these games are done.
Highlanders roll on
There is a decided demarcation in Greater Spokane League softball, with five teams separated from the other six. One thing is certain: Shadle Park remains perfectly dominant heading into the final 12 games of the season.
The Highlanders (9-0) have allowed only six runs and gone beyond five innings only three this year. That is the one thing that concerns coach George Lynn.
“As we get to district, will it get us ready for the (Columbia Basin League) or State?” he asked a couple of weeks ago. “It’s disheartening that there are no nonleague games. There are going to be some creative practices and a lot of batting practices against Sam (Skillingstad) getting us ready.”
The key game this week will be Friday when University (8-2) seeks revenge against North Central (8-1) in a game for second place.
Track unbeatens face off
GSL track and field resumes today with the first of four straight Thursday meets. Mead, Lewis and Clark and Central Valley started 2-0 and Ferris is 1-0 among boys teams. Shadle Park, North Central and East Valley began 2-0 among girls, and Ferris is 1-0. The Saxons host the Panthers and Indians, so something’s got to give in week two of the season.
The big invitational meet of spring is this weekend. The Pasco Invitational draws the state’s best athletes in a preview of state competition.
(Posted April 5) Did you see what already has transpired in track? Andre Jennings of Ferris leads the state in both the 100 and 200 with 10.6 and 21.8 (hand-held) times. And he’s just one of many local state leaders. Others are EV’s Tim Armstrong (14.54 in 110 high hurdles), Ferris’ Kelly McNamee (5-6 in girls high jump in a three-way tie), Mt. Spokane’s Jordan Roskelley (11-8 in girls pole vault) and Shadle Park’s 800 girls relay team (1:44.8) and 1,600 girls relay team (4:02.5). Plus, numerous others are near the top in their track and field specialities.
GSL soccer, tennis
•In boys soccer, Mead is unbeaten at 4-0, while East Valley, Lewis and Clark and University all are 4-1. On Friday, the Panthers will be tested by LC at home at 4 p.m.
•In tennis, unbeaten girls teams, defending champion Ferris and Mead, will face off on the Panthers’ courts on Thursday. The defending champion Saxon boys, the league’s only unbeaten, will host once-beaten Mead in another biggie.
Elsewhere, Cheney is experiencing a baseball turnaround as part of a six-team Great Northern League logjam. Colville and Pullman are early softball leaders, and Cheney – who else? – tops boys soccer.
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