There is no shortage of excitement when Central Valley and University High face off in a sport.
Pick a sport – these teams go so far as to slap a name on their rivalry games.
In fact, when they meet in the fall during slowpitch softball season they rent a set of lights and play the Fall Ball Brawl at night.
There is no name for the games these Central Valley School District rivals play in the spring, and that says something about the intensity of these games.
“These two teams know each other very well,” CV fastpitch coach Joe Stanton said. “Whether they’re neighbors or they played together in middle school or just know each other from playing summer league against each other, they know each other. In fact, they know each other so well that their parents all know each other.”
That makes Thursday’s Greater Spokane League regular-season finale at 4 p.m. at U-Hi all the more intense.
The Titans come into their final home game with a 12-1 league record; CV is 11-2. Both teams are primed for postseason play, but that’s not what this showdown is all about.
It comes down to this: With a one-game lead, University clinches the regular-season GSL title with a win. Central Valley is the only GSL team to have beaten U-Hi this season, and a win pulls the Bears into a first-place tie, and with a regular-season sweep would claim the title’s bragging rights.
There can be a tendency to get overly hyped for a game like this, U-Hi coach Jon Schuh said.
“We’ve been talking about just taking care of business,” he said. “We hold our destiny in our own hands.”
Each team sends a dominant pitcher to the circle for this game.
Central Valley will put the ball in the hands of pitcher Cheyenne Parker.
“She’s a funny story,” Stanton said. “She’s a senior and hadn’t played since she was in the eighth grade. She came out for her senior year, and I think she had it in the back of her mind that, since we rarely have to cut anyone, she would pitch a few games for the junior varsity and just have some fun.
“Instead she kind of got thrown right into the fire. I’m not sure she was really all that comfortable about that at first. But she’s risen to the occasion, and I think her competitive juices got flowing.”
Stanton said he’s proud of the way his team has rallied behind its first-year starting pitcher.
“This team has great chemistry,” he said. “I’ve had teams that had more talent than this one, but they never got along.”
Tammya Campbell has been the Titans go-to starter most of the season, but backup Erin Walls would be a No. 1 starter for just about anyone else in the league.
Parker came into the final week of the regular season second in the GSL in innings pitched and had a league-leading nine wins. Campbell was third in innings pitched and tied for second with seven victories.
Stanton said he’s been pleasantly surprised by how his Bears have scored runs, helping to ease pressure on the its starter.
CV’s Gianna McCoy leads the league in hits heading into the final three games with Suheyla Tanak and Julia Andrews also among the top five. University’s Alyssa Benthagen and Emily Stannard round out the top five.
When it comes to raw power, U-Hi’s Makayla Marshall leads the league with five home runs and has drawn a league-leading 14 walks while driving in a league-leading 20 runs.
The first time these teams met, University grabbed a 10-5 lead through two innings.
“We got ahead and then we just stopped playing for a couple innings,” Schuh said. “We let them come back on us.”
Marshall belted a home run in the seventh inning to tie the score, but Andrews had a walk-off single in the eighth inning to give CV a 14-13 win.
Anyone predicting another game with 27 combined runs scored?
“I’m not betting against it,” Schuh laughed. “You never know with these two teams.”
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