From staff and wire reports
Youth was served and age was rewarded: 10-year-olds and 65-year-olds from the area had their day on the diamond late last month, 1,800 miles apart. The results were comparable: Western National softball championships.
The Spokane Epic 10U girls fastpitch team traveled to North Mankato, Minnesota, July 22-24 and brought home the USA Softball West National championship in their age division to cap a tournament-heavy summer season.
Last week in Sacramento, California, the Spokane-based Stor A Way Storage Yeahoos slowpitch team won the 65+ Silver Division in the Senior Softball USA Western National Championship to qualify for the U.S. Championship in their division against the Eastern champion in September in Las Vegas.
Epic: It was a small tournament, just seven teams, but the 11 area players showed resilience and tenacity in surviving humid, 80-plus degree heat over three days. They played 11 games – three more than any other team – and won nine. On the final day, they went unbeaten in winning five games in 11 hours.
“They worked so hard and kept their spirits up all day,” said assistant coach and team manager Dawnice Dobbs, noting the grueling schedule was necessary as the players “worked their way back out of the losers’ bracket.”
After going 3-1 in pool play, Epic won its first game in bracket play, but lost its second, forcing it into the losers’ bracket. Both losses, incidentally, were to the Chicago-based Sparks. Epic would get its revenge, defeating Sparks twice at the end of the long, hot Saturday, 8-7 and 8-5, to win the championship.
Dobbs said that Cadence Buscher and Kensi Boyce formed a “pitching dream team,” sharing duties in the circle in both final games.
The championship game included what Dobbs called “a killer play” by shortstop Mya Martinez. “She made a backhand dive and threw from her knees” and first baseman Ali Malsom “laid out on a stretch to make the play.”
The team: Aivan Dobbs (Northwood MS), second base/pitcher; Buscher (Mountainside MS), pitcher/third base; Bailey Tampien (Mountainside), catcher; Malsom (Highland MS), first base; Kendall Perez (Highland), right field; Mykaela Koeller (Mountainside), third base/outfield; Reagan Davis (Stem Charter Academy, Rathdrum), outfield; Annie Beito (Sunset Elementary, Cheney), center field; Sophia Wickholm (McDonald Elementary), outfield; Boyce (Enterprise MS,
Richland), utility/pitcher; Martinez (Frontier MS, Moses Lake), shortstop. Head coach: Chris Buscher.
Stor A Way: The Yeahoos also prevailed in a small division, just six teams, and won five but were forced to go an extra game to capture the championship.
They won their first four games – two in pool play and the first two in bracket play – to advance to the title game, before running into the SportStan Islanders from Hawaii and falling 20-12 to force an extra game.
“We came back to win the ‘if’ game 17-15 for the championship,” reported coach Ron Klawitter. “We trailed the whole game and scored three in our last at-bat in the sixth (inning), then held them scoreless in the seventh.”
Besides earning a spot in the West-East championship game, the Yeahoos are guaranteed a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the SSUSA World Championships in Las Vegas in September. They also qualified for the Tournament of Champions in Florida in February, for which they had previously qualified.
The Yeahoos landed four players on the All-Tournament team: Dave Leake (.800 batting average), Jerry Coulter (.684), Dan Smith (.680), Allen Arnold (.667) and Jack Parker (.625). Other players: Klawitter, Tim Wheatley, Dan Griffith, Jim Pierce, Randy Willis, Mike Allen, Terry Graham and John Hollett.
Brett Harris of Gonzaga, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in special education and a 3.49 GPA, was named to the Division I College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America third team.
The third baseman, selected in the seventh round by the Oakland Athletics in the Major League Baseball Draft last month, earlier was named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-West Region Team, Collegiate Baseball’s All-America third team, the 2021 Senior CLASS Award second team and the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
• The Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association named Whitworth junior Trinity Frank (Gonzaga Prep) and grad student Grace Schmidt to its Division III Academic Honor Roll with GPAs of 3.5 or higher.
• Sophomore Jeremiah Guest of Gonzaga was selected as a 2021 Intercollegiate Rowing Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete with a 3.56 GPA. To be eligible, a rower must have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, be in at least their second year of eligibility and competed in one of the program’s top three boats.
• Eastern Washington grad student Parker Bowden, a hurdler from (Central Valley), was named to the 2020-21 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I All-Academic team with a 3.94 GPA.
• Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Whitworth were recognized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for academic achievement during the 2020-21 season.
The schools all received NABC Team Academic Excellence Awards for having team GPAs of 3.0 or above and all had junior or senior varsity plyers honored for posting GPAs of 3.2 or above.
Gonzaga: Will Graves, junior; Matthew Lang, jr.
Eastern: Tanner Groves (Shadle Park), senior (his second award); Eronmosele Fadal, jr.; Michael Meadows, jr.; Jack Perry, sr. (second award); Casson Rouse, jr.; David Veening, jr. Team: 3.41, (9th straight team award).
Whitworth: Rowan Anderson, jr.; Reed Brown, sr.; Tanner Fogle, sr.; Isaiah Hernandez (Lewis and Clark), sr.; Garrett Hull (CC Spokane), sr. ; Jacob Hjort, jr.; Miguel Lopez, sr.; JT McDermott, jr.; Garret Paxton, jr.; Chewy Zevenbergen, sr. Team: 3.43.
• Five Gonzaga men, who had stroke averages under 76.0 and minimum GPAs of 3.2, were among the first wave of student-athletes named Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars – Holden Backes, sr.; Grant Johnson, jr.; Charlie Magruder, sr.; Matthew Ruel, RS sr.; and Zach Stocker (Central Valley/CC Spokane), sr.
Leon Sitz of Germany, a midfielder who played the last two seasons at Monroe College (New York), is transferring to Gonzaga University, where he will be a junior. In 22 games at Monroe, he had 11 goals and 20 assists and was a member of the school’s undefeated NJCAA Division III national championship team of 2019.
The Zags also signed recent high school graduate Nico Braun, a midfielder from Beaverton, Oregon, to a letter of intent.
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