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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Area high school softball season preview

By season’s end last spring, Greater Spokane League teams fell short of expectations.

Just one team, North Central, qualified for a state tournament.

This year should be much different. Across the board each team brings back most of their starters.

Expect the GSL to be represented well into the postseason come late May.

Greater Spokane League

They return eight starters, three first team all-league selections. And they return the league’s top hitter and pitcher – all in one in junior Jaya Allen, the GSL’s most valuable player. It’s no wonder that the Shadle Park Highlanders are picked to defend their league championship. “If we stay healthy we should be fine,” understated coach Guy Perham. “We hope to be competing with the top teams and getting better.” Senior twins Laurie and Leslie Jones were first team picks as well. Laurie returns at shortstop and also backs up Allen while Leslie is back at catcher. Other returning starters are Melina Mendoza (first base), Bree Anna Barnes (left field), Caitlyn Fullmer (center field), Kaitlyn Scoble (right field) and Shyla Mangis (outfield). … Traditional power University, which runner-up last year, is expected to challenge Shadle. The Titans return seven starters: Kirsten Anstrom (utility), Gracee Dwyer (3B/1B), Alex Surby (OF), Sierra Apodaca (2B/OF), Courtney Awbery (U), Rachel Hawley (pitcher) and Brianna Hecker (1B). Anstrom, Dwyer, Surby and Awbery were first team all-league last year. “We should swing the bats pretty well and play solid defense,” coach Jon Schuh said. “We’ll be disappointed if we are not challenging for the GSL title.” … Central Valley also returns a bunch with eight starters. They are Hannah Anderson (P/2B), Aimee Gores (OF), Kelsey Gumm (P/1B), Abi Horton (P/OF), Haylee McCoy (SS), Elise Peck (OF), Macie Reynolds (C/1B) and Jordan Schneidmiller (OF). “Overall we will continue our winning ways and should be battling for a state berth,” coach Joe Stanton said. Reynolds is the lone returning first team all-league pick. … Mt. Spokane also brings back eight starters including Devyn Adams (OF), Hannah Bell (SS), Jadeyn Cronn (3B), Jolene House (OF), Kaitlyn Zemke (2B) and Kyla Stern (OF). Bell and Cronn are returning first team all-league players. “We are an experienced group ready to take what we’ve learned and build on it,” coach Carl Adams said. … Mead returns five starters. They are Sydney Hellman (INF), Kailey Johnson (U), Ashley Hammond (INF), Mikaylie King (P/INF) and Meredith Clark (OF). King and Clark are returning first team all-league selections. “We are young but we could surprise some people,” coach Steve Bagdon said. “We have a core that has played together.” … North Central has seven starters back. They are Casey Kiourkas (SS), Kaylee Levien (C), Jennifer Langager (CF), Brooke Olson (P), Paula Pintler (1B), Maddy Patterson (LF) and Rebecca Landron (RF). NC was the lone GSL team to advance to state. “I expect us to compete and win some quality games,” coach Rob Kuehn said. “We should be pretty balanced with power and speed.” … Ferris has three starters back including Allie Pinnock (P). “We are extremely young and inexperienced but have kids with an excellent work ethic and ‘team first’ attitude,” coach Laurie Smith said. … Rogers brings back five starters in Gracie Olsen (SS), Cass Shaw (P/1B), Macey Finch (1B/P), Marianna Furfaro (OF) and Jessica Gennett (2B). “We will definitely be better than last year and our pitching will keep us in every game,” coach Cris Coffield said. “Our goal is to be a contender for the playoffs.” … Lewis and Clark brings seven starters back. They are Sophie Harper (OF), Courtney Smith (1B), Peyton Hockett (2B), Shea Coston (3B), Allison Harvey (OF), Savannah McConnell (C), Taylor John (P) and Peris Ochsner (SS). Coach Paul Neff said defense will be his team’s strength. … Gonzaga Prep returns six starters. They are Rachel Valdez (P/1B), Maddy DeMarco (C), Darrian Staab (3B), Sarah Tweedy (INF), Julianne Young (CF) and Arianna Daniels (OF). “We’re looking to prove ourselves in the GSL and the group will hopefully do something special as the season goes on,” coach Jill Benson said.

Great Northern League

Defending champ Cheney is given a slight nod over West Valley in the chase for the league title. The Blackhawks return three starters, all first team all-league selections. They are Rachel Barsness (C/SS), Madison Kallsen (P/3B) and Meghan Krantz (1B/OF). Cheney has five freshmen and four sophomores on its roster. “We have our three leading hitters from last season returning but two of them are still coming back from off-season injuries,” coach Gary Blake said. “With such a young team I expect a lot of inconsistency early but it is an athletic group so we should gel later in the year.” … WV has been the traditional power under coach Paul Cooley, who begins his 11th season. The Eagles have won two league titles in that span while posting a 134-83 record under Cooley. The Eagles return eight starters. Leading the way are first team all-league picks Jordyn Tiffany (SS) and Morgan Ulbright (3B/C). They’re joined by Alisha Buffkin (LF/C), Sophia Henson (P/OF), Julie Mitchell (CF), Kelsie Sinclair (2B), Sydney Jones (1B/RF) and Rylee McConnell (RF). “We are more athletic this season,” Cooley said. “Our outlook should be good. There will be a great deal of parity in the league.” … Pullman brings back seven starters. The Greyhounds are led by returning all-leaguers Anne Mari Petrino (OF), Rebecca Wickard (INF/C) and Desi Tennant (P) along with Halley Gihleri (INF). … Clarkston returns eight starters. The Bantams are led by returning all-leaguers Megan Aliverti (INF) and Sequoia Swan (P). “I think we have the best catcher in the league (Aliverti) and we expect a lot out of her,” coach Shaun O’Kelley said.

Northeast A

The coaches believe Lakeside will have little difficulty defending its championship. The league receives three state berths this year. The Eagles qualified for state, placing third. They return six starters including first team all-league selections McKenzie Brittos, Taylor Wuesthoff and Mackenzie Matteson along with Hailey Lesser. “We have two pitchers that will be a force to reckon with,” coach Chuck Moffatt said. “We have a skilled infield and outfield and a veteran lineup with nine players returning.” … Deer Park was the other qualifier to state and figures to push Lakeside. The Stags return all-leaguers Carlie Durgeloh and Kylie Sweeney along with Peyton Erickson. … Colville, Chewelah and Medical Lake are picked to finish in that order following Lakeside and Deer Park. Colville returns five starters. The Indians are led by returning first team pick Baylee Main (CF) along with Gracie Schauls (P) and Rylee Merritt (SS). Coach Jim Ebel likes his team’s depth and experience at most positions. “We’re an improved team. However, Lakeside and Deer Park have senior pitching so it will be tough in league again,” Ebel said. … Chewelah brings back seven starters. The Cougars are led by Jaelynn Skok (P) and Shayla Hartill (OF). They could have six sophomores in their lineup. “We will compete well in every game and if we can get a hit or two at the right time we will pick up a critical win or two that will elevate us in the league standings a spot or two,” coach Tom Skok said. … Medical Lake returns practically intact with nine starters back. The Cardinals are led by Hannah Petek (OF). Glori Cheevers, an all-league pick last year, moved to Timberlake. “Glori’s glove and bat will be missed,” coach Tim Blakely said. Blakely likes his team’s offensive experience and defense.

Northeast 2B

There could be a big shake up in the standings this season. Usual power Colfax could slip from the top of the heap to the middle while Davenport and Springdale figure to be in the title hunt with Northwest Christian. … NWC brings back six starters. They are Lauren Taylor (CF), a first team all-league pick, Alexys Tibbetts (SS), Jenna Ostrum (RF), Rachel Wright (2B), Ellie Frey (LF) and Mattea Nelson (P). “We are a well-balanced team with varsity and club experience,” coach Renee Stewart said. “We should hit our stride midseason to make a strong run at the postseason.” … Kettle Falls returns six starters. The Bulldogs are led by Makyla Hall (CF), Olivia Bearslee (SS), Hannah Stillwell (RF), Kendall Elliott (P), Nicole Tallman (C) and Kennedy McKern (3B). “We have a solid batting lineup all the way through,” coach R.J. Glover said. “We feel we can compete for the top two spots in the league and expect a trip to state.” … Wilbur-Creston returns five starters. “We are a young team that can grow together,” coach Teresa Chrisman said. “The girls are positive and willing to try any position that will help the team.” … Lind-Ritzville/Sprague has six starters back. The Broncos are led by Raeann Hoeft (OF), Emily Kinney (3B/OF), Alarah Pulliam (1B/P) and Alisha Baker (C). “Our strengths should be pitching and defense,” coach Todd O’Brien said. He said replacing three solid hitters that provided 50 percent of the runs will be key.

Northeast 1B

Second in state a year ago and the defending league champ, Almira/Coulee-Hartline is picked to lead the pack again this year. ACH brings back four starters. The Warriors are led by Emman Dingman (INF), Savannah Kentner (1B), Kenadee Loomis (C), Brenna Oliver (SS/OF), Andi Olson (P/SS) and Laura Sconce (OF). “We have strong leadership among the team and very athletic freshmen coming into the program,” coach Andy Boyd said. … Cusick lost much to graduation, bringing back just three starters. They are Regan Allen (C), Brianna Balcolm (P) and Cassidy Hansen (1B). Allen and Balcolm were all-league picks last year. “Our ultimate goal is to reach state,” said coach Monica Allen. … Curlew, a state qualifier last year, returns five starters. Coach Charlie Groth said his team is strong defensively. “ACH and Cusick hands down are the top two teams,” Groth said. “After that it will be a dogfight for the next position.” … Republic returns just two starters but has high hopes. “This team will play hard in all games and be very competitive,” coach Rusty Summy said. “Once the players learn their positions well, the team will be very cohesive.”

5A Inland Empire League

A familiar coaching face replaces a legend. Darren Taylor, who coached Lake City to a state championship, takes over for Larry Bieber at Coeur d’Alene. The Vikings, state runners-up last year, are picked to win the league and return to state. CdA returns four starters. They are Breana Burke (P), Mariah Montee (3B), Kylie Smith (SS) and Jane Wilkey (1B/P). Burke was the league’s most valuable player last year and Montee and Smith were all-league selections. “This team is very well-schooled,” Taylor said. “They know how to play the game. We’ll be fun to watch. We have speed and a little pop, too.” … Lake City brings back four starters under second-year coach Jesse Lenz. LC is led by Michaela Flerchinger (P), an all-league pick last year. The key is replacing five starters with youth. “We know we are going to go through some growing pains but I like the girls’ attitudes and work ethic,” Lenz said. … Post Falls had a difficult first year under coach Brian Stranger, finishing 5-20 overall, 1-11 in league. But the Trojans have showed good signs early. Post Falls returns most of its players. The Trojans are led by Casey Goleeke (3B) and Brooke Bowers (P), an all-league pick a year ago. Goleeke was newcomer of the year last spring. … Lewiston brings back five starters, led by Cheyenne Rose (P), an all-league pick last year. Coach Ike Young likes the Bengals’ pitching and speed. “If we stay healthy we should be very competitive,” Young said.

4A Inland Empire League

Lakeland has qualified for state six out of the last eight years under coach Colleen Bevacqua and this spring looks just as bright. The Hawks bring back five all-league picks in Kari Prockish (P), Reilly Williams (1B), Katie Kastning (SS), Savannah Pruitt (2B) and Darby Litzko (LF). Kastning was the league’s MVP last year. The Hawks also return five other lettermen with experience. … Sandpoint returns five starters. The Bulldogs are led by Sam Holland (C), an all-league pick last year, and Bri Baldree (P), newcomer of the year last season. “We are very excited about this year,” coach Elizabeth Hawkins said. “We have a tremendous amount of varsity experience and our underclassmen are very talented.” … Moscow returns five starters. The Bears are led by returning all-leaguers Leah Dreesmann (P), Reese Bentley (OF) and Sarah Doty (INF). “We have quite a bit of experience,” coach Ted Matsuoka said. “Last year our sophomores had to play a lot of innings and went through some hard times. They’ve learned from it and have come back stronger.”

Intermountain League

Timberlake graduate and former standout player Casi Reisenauer takes over for Mike Menti, who took all 16 of his teams to state and finished with a 292-138 career record. Reisenauer, an assistant the past two years, played on Menti’s first team in 2000. Timberlake returns seven starters along with two talented transfers in Emily Vanderhoof (CF) from Lakeland and Glori Cheevers (3B), from Medical Lake. Returning all-league picks are Jacquelyn Mallet (LF) and Shelby Starr (SS). “The kids are excited and eager to play and learn the game,” Reisenauer said. … Bonners Ferry tripped Timberlake up at district last year, claiming the title and earning a state berth. … Priest River brings back six starters as Rob DeMent takes over as coach. The Spartans are led by Morgan DeMent (3B) and Melissa Krampert (SS), both all-leaguers last year. “We should have a good mix of speed on the bases to go with a few power hitters,” DeMent said. “We should be able to put a solid defense behind our young pitchers.” … Kellogg has seven starters back. Leading the way are Drew Twidt (SS), Eylssa Bradley (C) and Rylee Rikenau (P/3B). “Hitting will be our strength this year,” coach Craig Turbak said. “We could surprise some teams this year.”

Central Idaho League

Orofino is picked as the team to beat but St. Maries expects to be in the mix. St. Maries brings back nine lettermen including all-league pick Shelby Holder (C). Paige Sines and Kelsey Auer will handle pitching duties.

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