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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Artificial turf forces changes for state softball teams

Shoe shopping isn’t something many teenage girls dread, but the University and Shadle Park softball teams have uncovered the exception to that rule.

Part of the Titans’ and Highlanders’ preparations for the State 3A tournament Friday and Saturday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey: Buy new rubber cleats, as the metal ones they’ve worn on the dirt fields all season are not allowed on the RAC’s artificial surface.

The rule, which the WIAA tried to implement last year but didn’t enforce because of the short notice, will be strictly enforced this year.

“It’s tough on the feet – I coached a girl that wore a new pair of cleats at a tournament and came away with blisters everywhere,” Shadle coach Guy Perham said. “But they’re saying it has to be done.”

“You tell me another state tournament where four or five days before you arrive you need a new piece of pertinent equipment,” U-Hi coach Jon Schuh added.

The other issue for both teams – they’ve rarely, if ever, played on turf, which is a much faster surface.

“It’s going to be a definite adjustment,” Perham said. “Hopefully, it’s not too much of a disadvantage.”

“The other way to look at it, too, is that we’re playing at a state-of-the-art facility,” Schuh said.

Both teams will get a couple of practice sessions playing on local turf before they arrive in Lacey and use their allotted practice time on the RAC fields prior to their first-round games Friday morning. More than anything, both coaches and their players are excited to be playing during the final weekend of the season.

Shadle will face Enumclaw in the first round, while the Titans will take on Wilson in the same half of the 16-team bracket.

“We’ve hit a little speed bump as of late, so we’re looking to play how I know we can play and fire on all cylinders,” Schuh said. “It’d be nice to come home with something other than a state T-shirt.”

“For my girls, this is a feather in their cap,” Perham said. “We weren’t even expected to make it to districts and it’s been a brutal year – and now they get the reward. It’s a win-win.”

In the State 4A tournament, the Central Valley Bears are the last Greater Spokane League team standing after placing third at last weekend’s regional tournament.

The Bears won’t have to travel far for Friday’s first-round game against Jefferson, as the tournament is at Merkel Field.

“I hope that we’ll place and I expect that we’ll place,” CV coach Joe Stanton said. “We have all the pieces in place, but it’s not if you get hot – it’s when you get hot.”

The West Valley Eagles, who are in the 2A field along with Cheney, have been hot for some time now. They’ve won 23 straight games after losing their first game of the season.

The Eagles will face defending 2A champ Sequim in their opener, while Cheney will face Tumwater on the opposite side of the bracket.

“Our kids have a pretty good feel for what we’ve done this year,” West Valley coach Paul Cooley said. “I think we stand a pretty good chance, but when you have that many good teams, it can come down to the luck of the draw, the bounce of the ball, and things you don’t have control over.

“We just need to show up and play our best.”

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