Cheney has played in multiple leagues – Border, Frontier, Greater Spokane and the current Great Northern – but the Blackhawks had never won a softball championship until Tuesday.
Julia Boyd (12-0) allowed two singles and struck out nine, and Rachel Barsness went 3 for 4 with a leadoff home run as the Blackhawks (16-0, 12-0) clinched the GNL title with a 10-0, five-inning victory over visiting East Valley.
“I think definitely it’s the collaboration, the teamwork,” Boyd said. “I think that’s what brings us together and gives us the ability to win.”
“We have 10-runned the vast majority of our opponents this year, but they still haven’t had the swelled heads that would cause problems,” 12th-year Blackhawks coach Gary Blake said. “I’m really proud of the way they’ve handled it.”
Blake said the school started playing fastpitch softball in the early 1990s. The Blackhawks have qualified for state three times, including the current seniors when they were freshmen, but never as league champions.
Cheney earned the right to host the District 7 2A title game on May 16. Both teams involved in the district title game will play “glue crossover” games on May 23 against Central Washington Athletic Conference rivals for berths to state.
Boyd held in a check a team that was averaging 11 runs in league games, with a .353 batting average.
“I try to stay humble,” the Cheney senior said. “I know I’m not the best out there, but I try hard. I work hard and it pays off, I guess.”
The top three in Cheney’s batting order, Barsness, Cheyenne Wright and Maddie Kallsen, finished a combined 7 for 11 with seven runs and five runs batted in. All three scored during the Blackhawks’ three-run first that was aided by four EV errors. Barsness’ homer, her first of the season, cleared the fence in left-center field.
Wright also doubled home Barsness and scored on Kallsen’s groundout as Cheney boosted its lead to 5-0 in the second.
Cassie Schliep led off Cheney’s three-run fourth with a double to deep left. Boyd capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to left for an 8-0 lead.
Kallsen ended the game with a one-out RBI single to center field.
“I tell them the same thing every game: I want you confident. I just don’t want you overconfident,” Blake said.
“We had a fairly new team (this season) and I wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out,” Boyd said. “But these girls are awesome and they’re really working it.”
The second-place Knights (8-8, 7-5) played without senior shortstop Brianna Lasso, who was injured Sunday in a freak accident at home. Lasso was hitting .571 with three homers and 20 RBIs.
Both teams have four league games remaining.
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