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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Prep baseball notes: Senior Logan Kurucz sparks Shadle Park

When Shadle Park senior Logan Kurucz plants his foot in the batter’s box, he displays the confidence that pitchers hate to face.

He waits for the pitches he likes and punishes the ball when he gets them.

“He’s a kid you can always count on,” Highlanders coach Ron Brooks said. “He pushes himself and others are attracted to it. He’s a good one.”

Kurucz, pronounced “Cruise,” is among the leaders in the Greater Spokane League in several offensive categories.

Coming into the week, Kurucz was hitting .424 and he was tied for second with five doubles. He was among the leaders in runs scored and was tied with Gonzaga Prep’s Ryan Gross and Mt. Spokane’s Tyler Bailey for the lead in RBIs with 12.

“We don’t have Brett (Rypien) this year,” Brooks said of the former Shadle star now off to play football at Boise State. “But he and Brett are best friends. That class grew up together in their youth sports. I could tell in middle school that these kids like competition and don’t back away from it. It doesn’t matter what sport, they compete.”

Kurucz also played linebacker for the Highlanders.

“It’s been fun over the years watching him develop,” Brooks said. “He’ll just say he outhustles kids. But he’s always in the right spot.”

Kurucz is hitting better than .400 even after a slow start.

“He was arriving on time and making good contact, but he was just hitting the ball right at people,” Brooks said. “He can go 0 for 4 and hit the ball on the screws and everybody thought he had a tough day.”

Brooks knows when he puts Kurucz on the field that he will get everything the kid has to offer.

“He couldn’t care about what happens as long as we win. That’s the most important thing to him,” Brooks said. “That’s what I’m going to miss.”

Norden by Northwest

On the mound, few area pitchers can match the production of Rogers’ Evan Norden, who threw a no-hitter on March 26 in a 5-0 win over Ferris. He’s also been the main leader for the Pirates, who find themselves in the hunt for a potential GSL crown.

Norden won a dual Tuesday with Central Valley fireballer Austin Bergdahl to go 5-2 on the season. Entering the week, Norden had pitched more innings and was among the leaders in the GSL with a 1.67 ERA. He also was leading the league with 46 strikeouts, one more than Bergdahl.

“He’s meant a lot to us,” coach Jim Wasem said. “We had two games he should have won, but we had some errors behind him.”

Norden threw mostly curveballs last year, but this year he has added some speed to his fastball, Wasem said. … “He’s not one-dimensional. He’s a great young man and he does a great job for us.”

Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman said Norden is one of the toughest pitchers his team can face in the league.

“He’s really a competitive pitcher,” Schuerman said of Norden. “He mixes his pitches well. He really does it all on the mound.”

Entering Thursday’s games, the Pirates (8-5 GSL) were tied with G-Prep and two games behind Mt. Spokane (11-2). Rogers won only five games last year.

“Gonzaga Prep and Mt. Spokane were loaded last year,” Wasem said. “That really kind of tipped the scales. But we have a great group of boys.”

The difference between the five-win campaign and this year starts on the mound, Wasem said.

“We never had enough pitching,” Wasem said of last year. “But now we’ve got three or four guys.”

Wild finish

The final three weeks of the league are shaping up to be a mad dash following two straight years when G-Prep took the league with the same 17-1 record.

Rogers played Mt. Spokane on Thursday and will finish with Shadle Park (7-6) and North Central (3-10).

G-Prep played Lewis and Clark (7-6) on Thursday and ends with University (7-6) and Central Valley (6-7).

Mt. Spokane has Ferris (0-13) and Shadle after Thursday’s game with Rogers.

“That makes for a brighter and better league when everybody has a chance going into the last three weeks left,” Wasem said.

Brooks agrees that parity just makes the wild run to the finish that much more fun.

“I think you can see that Mt. Spokane is starting to go away with it,” Brooks said. “But everybody else is right in the middle of it. It’s kind of fun to go check the scores … because it’s full of surprises.”

Moving on

Freeman senior Jake Phipps has committed to play baseball at Division II Saint Martin’s University.

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