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Locally: Former Mt. Spokane softball player Hannah Bell comes up big with final swing at Portland State

UPDATED: Sun., May 30, 2021

Hannah Bell is greeted at home plate by senior teammate Tayler Gunesch (21) who scored ahead of Bell on the home runs.  (Courtesy of Jim Nicholson)
Hannah Bell is greeted at home plate by senior teammate Tayler Gunesch (21) who scored ahead of Bell on the home runs. (Courtesy of Jim Nicholson)
By Chuck Stewart The Spokesman-Review

Hannah Bell saved the best for last. Literally.

The college softball experience wasn’t at all like the former three-time, first-team All-Greater Spokane League infielder from Mt. Spokane had envisioned.

She started at Monterey (California) Peninsula College in 2017, but in the fall of her freshman year she tore ligaments in an ankle and missed the spring season. She played as a sophomore and then transferred from the community college to Portland State for the 2020 season .

“I didn’t have the easiest road,” she acknowledged.

With graduation coming this spring and med school on her mind, she planned on making this her last season. She had hoped it would involve more playing time. It didn’t. She found herself more on the bench encouraging teammates and less on the field with them.

“As strange as it sounds, it’s a role I found gratifying,” she said.

She played in just 13 games for the 15-26 team, getting one start and 13 at-bats.

But for all the frustrations, her career ended on May 22 in the arms of Vikings teammates during an elimination game against Seattle University in the NCAA Division I Seattle Regional, shedding tears of happiness.

Here’s how the Portland State website described the scene:

“With one runner on base (in the top of the sixth inning) and her team trailing by three, the Vikings called on Hannah Bell to provide a spark for the offense. The senior did just that, belting (a 3-2 pitch for) her first career home run over the left field wall to … cut the Seattle lead to one.”

But the Vikings were unable to find more magic in the seventh and their Cinderella postseason ended in a 6-5 loss.

“I was pretty relaxed,” she said of that at-bat. “Not nervous at all.”

After she hit the ball, “I didn’t really process it” that it may be a home run on her last at-bat. As she neared second base, it started to sink in. “I started to get emotional,” she said. As she approached home, with teammates gathering to mob her, “I was getting teary-eyed. My teammates were pretty emotional also.”

“HB was the purest example of the game paying you back,” said Vikings coach Meadow McWorter. “Almost every morning, you could find her in the gym getting swings in. For her to end her career with that monster home run was magical. A moment she, her teammates and coaches will never forget.”

Although she has another year of eligibility after redshirting as a sophomore, and could take advantage of the extra year granted by the NCAA because of COVID-19, Hannah is ready to get on with the next chapter in her life. She’ll graduate in virtual ceremonies June 12 with a degree in health science, then she applies for medical school.

“I’d like to go to the University of Washington” because of its Spokane connection, she admitted, “but I’m applying to several schools.”

Basketball

The Washington State women and Idaho men shored up their rosters with transfers last week.

Keeli Burton-Oliver, a 6-foot-3 forward from Eastlake High School in Sammamish, Washington, where she was a two-time Washington Class 4A Player of the Year, will have four years of eligibility at WSU starting in the 2021-22 season after transferring from Arizona State.

Idaho has added Trevante Anderson, a 6-3 guard from Tacoma who played the last three seasons at San Francisco, and Philip Pepple Jr., a 6-10 forward from Shoreline, Wash., who is transferring from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Anderson, who played sparingly last season at San Francisco, was All-State as a senior at Rainier Beach HS, where he averaged 21 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists per game. Peppe Jr. was All-State his senior year at Shorecrest HS, averaging 22 ppg and 11 rpg. He averaged 24.7 minutes and 7.8 ppg and 5.0 rpg in four games last season at SIUE.

College scene

You can add Academic All-America to Lexi Hull’s list of honors.

The Stanford junior from Central Valley was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) women’s NCAA Division I Academic All-America first team with a 3.92 GPA as a management science and engineering major.

Hull is just the second player in program history named a first-team Academic All-American, joining Chiney Ogwumike (2013 and 2014).

• Eastern Oregon senior guard Max McCullough from Post Falls was named to the 2020-21 NAIA men’s basketball CoSIDA Academic All-America first team after being a second-team choice in 2019-20.

He has a 3.94 GPA working toward his master’s in business administration after earning a bachelor’s degree in business admin with a 3.81.

• Gonzaga’s Ernie Yake has been named a semifinalist for the 2021 Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the player selected the best shortstop in college baseball by the College Baseball Foundation. The winner will be announced at a date to be determined.

Hitting .315 as the leadoff batter for the Bulldogs since the start of the season and fielding .958, Yake has been a consistent major asset for the top-20 ranked Zags, who won the West Coast Conference. With only 12 strike outs, he ranks 18th among the toughest to strike out nationally.

McKabe Cottrell, a Community Colleges of Spokane sophomore from Freeman, was named Northwest Athletic Conference baseball pitcher of the week after for his complete-game, 10-1 victory over Treasure Valley on May 22. He struck out 18, limiting the Chukers to six hits, one walk and one unearned run.

Darby Doyle, a Western Washington senior midfielder from Gonzaga Prep, was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer offensive player of the week after she scored from 20 yards out into the upper right corner in the 48th minute of the season-ending game. Her second goal of the season was the winner in a 3-1 victory over Central Washington.

Breana Burke, a Lipscomb (Tennessee) grad student from Coeur d’Alene HS, was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic Team in softball with a 4.0 GPA.

On the field, she ranked in the top 10 in the league in seven pitching categories, including first in complete games (19), second in starts (21) and third in innings pitched (1451/3). She had a 13-9 record, 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts.

• For a third-straight complete season, the Gonzaga women’s tennis team is rated in the final Oracle Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, coming in at No. 72. The Zags were 64th in 2018 and 51st in 2019. The 2020 season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• With a record 44 students posting perfect 4.0s, Gonzaga student-athletes combined for a 3.46 GPA for the spring 2021 semester. Women’s tennis led the way with a 3.85 and men’s tennis had a 3.77 as all programs had at least a 3.0. There were 101 on the President’s List (3.85-4.0) and 92 on the Dean’s List (3.50-3.84).

• With 266 student-athletes compiling GPAs of 3.0 or above, Idaho had a second consecutive semester this spring with a 3.37 GPA, tying the record it set in the fall. There were 92 athletes with a perfect 4.0 GPA and 154 made their respective dean’s lists. Women’s tennis led the department with a team-record 3.87 GPA. Track led the men with a 3.64.

Golf

Corey Prugh, golf coach at Community Colleges of Spokane, finished ninth to lead the showing by area players in the Washington Open Invitational last week at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, Washington.

Prugh shot a consistent 70-71-70 for a 5-under-par 211 in the 54-hole tournament, five strokes back of six-time champion Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash. Two North Idaho pros, Russell Grove, the North Idaho College coach, and Jeff Gove from The Idaho Club in Sandpoint, were in a three-way tie for 12th at 3-under 213. Grove shot 69-78-66 and Gove 73-71-69.

Gove had led a team of sponsors to second place in the Pro-Am.

Low area amateur was Andrew Reinhardt from Gonzaga University, who was at even-par 216 (70-77-69). He finished fourth among the amateurs and tied for 17th overall.

Hockey

Adam Beckman, who received the Spokane Chiefs player of the year award for the 2019-20 Western Hockey League season, shares this season’s honor with team captain Eli Zummack after the team recently named its 2020-21 awards recipients.

Beckman, a 19-year-old Minnesota Wild prospect, became the first player in franchise history to lead the team in goals for three consecutive seasons. His 17 goals in 21 games accounted for 31% of the Chiefs’ goals and tied for second in the WHL. Beckman’s 1.28 points-per-game average in his career edged Kailer Yamamoto for 10th best in club history.

Zummack, a 21-year-old center, the 33rd captain in Chiefs’ history, led the team with 13 assists. He was second to Beckman in points (22) and goals (9) and had eight multi-point games, including a couple of four-pointers. Zummack wound up his career sixth in club history in assists (169), 17th in points (239) and 33rd in games played (254).

Other award winners: Raegan Wiles, John “Hitman” Hern Defenseman of the Year; Matt Leduc, Players’ Player; Mason Beaupit, Rookie of the Year; Cordel Larson, Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player; and Blake Swetlikoff, Scholastic Player of the Year.

Wiles, a second-year Chief, contributed major minutes, generally on the top defensive pairing with the veteran Leduc. Leduc was chosen by his teammates as a leader who best exemplifies what it means to be a good teammate. Beaupit is a 6-foot-5 goalie whose .916 save percentage was second in the U.S. Division. Larson compiled just eight penalty minutes in 17 games. Swetlikoff completed his high school graduation requirements at the end of fall semester and enrolled in a university class.

• Swetlikoff is one of two Chiefs listed on the final 2021 NHL Central Scouting Service Draft Rankings. The rookie winger is 160th while defenseman Graham Sward is ranked 117th.

Letters of intent

Gonzaga men’s soccer: Chris Swider, MF, Coeur d’Alene HS, All-IEL first-team as a senior when he scored 14 of his 30 career goals.

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