In his preseason questionnaire, Lewis and Clark baseball coach Dexter Davis listed inexperienced pitching as an “area of concern.”
Seniors Jimmy Reed and Benny Baird allayed those fears, and the Tigers won nine of their final 10 Greater Spokane League games and finished 12-8 for their first winning season since 2002.
The wins, double last year’s total, earned them a District 8 4A berth and playoff game Monday at Avista Stadium against rival Ferris (13-7), which LC won 5-0 on Reid’s four-hit pitching.
LC’s 10th win in 11 games earns the Tigers a semifinal meeting with regular-season champion University (18-2) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Avista. Mead plays Central Valley at 4 in the opener of the double-elimination portion of district play. Both are 16-4.
LC took advantage of three walks and three Ferris errors for a three-run first inning, and Sage Poland delivered a two-run double in the second inning to give Reid all the support he would need against Ferris. Reid struck out four and didn’t issue a walk.
“To be honest, I thought potentially they’d be pretty good.” Davis said of his pitchers prior to Monday’s playoff win.
It took a summer’s worth of maturing during American Legion baseball and the ability to locate their pitches, he said, that helped both Reed and Baird compile sub-2.4 earned-run averages and go a combined 11-5 during the GSL season.
“The thing that was great about those kids is that they are pitchers only and really are students of the game,” said Davis. “It was pretty much a one-two combination.”
The Tigers played so many sophomores last year that improvement was expected on offense and defense. Still, seven juniors start afield and playing the GSL’s top four finishers in eight of the first 10 games put LC in an early 3-7 hole.
“We saw some of the league’s better pitching,” said Davis of the slow start.
Early mistakes and cold bats, he added, didn’t help. Everything meshed at season’s midpoint and the Tigers finished with a rush. Most of the lineup, including Garrick Little, Stefan Altberg, Dean Nielson and third-year regulars John Goodwin and Sage Poland, hit over .300.
The steady pitching duo of Reed and Baird took care of the rest.
•3A: Rogers coach Jim Wasem said he figured the Pirates could be pretty good by season’s end once the “rookies” had figured out varsity baseball. He also didn’t use pitcher Jacob Partridge as much as last year, hoping to keep him fresher for the postseason.
“Last year we used him a lot more and he got sore,” Wasem said, reasoning, “all we had to do was beat one team to get into the 3A playoffs.”
The fourth-seeded Pirates (4-16) won their last three games and begin 3A regional play today at 4 p.m. at No. 2 seed Shadle Park (6-14). East Valley is at Hanford. The remainder of the tournament, including GSL top seed Mt. Spokane, is Friday and Saturday at Shadle.
A couple of weekends ago, Mt. Spokane girls basketball coach Julie Kistler was at a church benefit in Odessa being held for a close friend.
Her former high school classmate, age 34, has a terminal brain tumor and three young children about the ages of Kistler’s two who are 3 and going on 6.
“The light bulb came on,” said Kistler. “It put life into a little bit more perspective. I needed to spend more time with my family.”
Two Mondays ago, Kistler announced her resignation after three years. This year’s Wildcats had their best season, going 8-15 overall although young. They were 20-48 for her career and made two successive 3A regional tournaments.
Activities coordinator Paul Kautzman said he told her to take time to figure out what was best for the family and after a week she confirmed her decision. Family comes first.
“When I took over (coaching) my children were 1 and 4, I wanted the challenge and was pretty stubborn thinking I could do everything,” Kistler said. “I weathered the storm for three years.”
Both Kautzman and Kistler agreed there were pressures and parental expectations that come with the job, but she said you learn to deal with that. She expects, when her children are older, a return to coaching.
“I’m going on 35 and this will be the first year my whole life I haven’t done this,” Kistler said. “I played two sports at Eastern and then have been coaching for 11 years.”
She becomes the third coach Mt. Spokane must replace. Bill Ayers resigned the boys basketball job earlier and Sean Linder took a job and gave up girls cross country.
“We’ll post them this week,” said Kautzman. “We’ll see what we get in interest and go from there.”
He said he wants the basketball jobs filled as quickly as possible for the summer.
While Mt. Spokane is in the market for a girls basketball coach, Northwest Christian has landed one in former Mead coach Beth Wing. Wing was 61-17 in three years with the Panthers – 1997-99 and 2002-03 – sharing two league titles and placing fourth in state in ’99 and winning their division of the GSL during her next go-around. She moved when her husband, in the military, was transferred.
“It is truly a blessing to be back in Spokane again,” said Wing in a news release. “My family and I feel like the timing is right for me to get back into coaching.”
Coming of age
During six years beginning in 2003, Clarkston boys soccer had won a total of seven matches. Today, the Bantams are at Medical Lake in the Great Northern League 2A District playoffs after doubling that total with a 7-8-1 2009 season.
Randy Semanko, whose son Jordan was one of the league scoring leaders and who is involved with the club program there, wondered if it was the best in school history.
It’s probably a safe bet. Looking back on the 20 years of Clarkston soccer history, as much as can be documented, the Bantams typically have been at or near the bottom of their leagues. West Valley is at Riverside in the other playoff match. Winners advance at league champion Cheney and runner-up Pullman on Thursday.
•4A time change: Don’t forget – the time of today’s District 4A soccer championship match between Mead and Lewis and Clark has been changed. Coaches requested the match be played at 5 p.m. at Albi Stadium.
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