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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Grip on Sports: Before we hit the road, we take some notes – and pause to pass them along

A GRIP ON SPORTS • An ancient Willie Nelson song should be playing in the background. Or any tune about leaving town. It’s time to hit the road, an adventure that’s changed radically in the past couple decades.


• No, we’re not referring to gas prices, though they are not as important as they once were if you’ve joined the EV revolution. Alas, we’re not there yet, though it is a destination for not too far down the road, if you allow us to write metaphorically. If not, then let’s be blunt.

Forty years ago, you left home on vacation and you left all thoughts of following your local sports teams behind, along with your bathing suit and favorite T-shirt. Unlike those items, though, replacements were hard to find at your destination.

Not anymore.

No matter how far we roam, staying up-to-date is a lot easier since Steve Jobs and his unrelated kin changed our world.

Want to listen to the Mariners’ final game in Minnesota today? Satellite radio has you covered. Want to find out who is doing well in the high school playoffs? There’s an app on your phone for that. Heck, want to watch your niece’s volleyball tournament while sipping an adult beverage in Barbados? Not an issue – if you can afford it. Just consider such things an add-on to your vacation costs.

“Getting away from it all” doesn’t have to include your sports teams these days. In fact, it’s hard to do. But if you muster the courage to leave your phone back in the Airbnb or in the trunk of the Vrbo, you can. But, honestly, who wants to?

• Before we pack the car, we have some notes to unpack. Ones you’ve might have missed in the day-to-day rat race.

We’ll start with updating the progress of the area’s rookies trying to make WNBA rosters. There was a decent amount of fanfare, after all, when Gonzaga’s guard duo of Brynna Maxwell (Chicago) and Kaylynne Truong (Washington) went in the second-round of the draft. And a little less when WSU’s Bella Murakatete, a standout at Post Falls’ Genesis Prep, signed with Phoenix as a free agent.

Murakatete has gotten some run in the Mercury’s exhibition games but faces the league’s roster squeeze the next few days as teams set their regular season rosters. The Gonzaga pair are in a different situation. Both are injured, with Maxwell out about a month with a knee injury and Truong sidelined with a bad ankle. Decisions on their future may have to wait.

• Speaking of injuries, pitcher Bryan Woo’s return to health happened to correspond with replacement starter Emerson Hancock’s struggles. The latter made the Mariners’ move yesterday easy – and predictable.

Hancock is headed back to Tacoma. Woo, who was injured in spring training, will rejoin the team and probably make his first start Sunday in Seattle against the surprising Athletics.

• As the weather warms up – it should be in the 80s this weekend in the Inland Northwest – the ballpark experience improves, right? It doesn’t matter what level, MLB, college, heck, T-ball. Sitting outside on a late spring or summer evening watching baseball is always better on a warm night.

The only other aspect that has more of influence on enjoyment? Maybe the outcome. If you are an Indians’ fan, then that element looks bright. Spokane is back in first place in the Northwest League standings after their 4-2, 10-inning win in Hillsboro last night. And it looks as if the Indians and Eugene, a 6-1 loser against Tri-City on Wednesday, will trade that spot back-and-forth for at least the first half of the season.

• There is something special about soccer’s U.S. Open Cup. Lower-level men’s teams facing off against their major league counterparts. On a level field. With a chance to shine. To pull a remember-for-years upset.

Louisville City FC had its chance Wednesday against the Sounders. The USL Championship squad (a level above the new Velocity’s USL League One) took Seattle to overtime and beyond at the Starfire Complex. Sure, it wasn’t the Sounders’ best roster – a rivalry showdown with Portland looms Sunday – but Alex Roldan and Danny Leyva, among others, joined backups and Academy players in a match that was tied at two until newly extended goalie Andrew Thomas gave Seattle a 3-2 win with a deciding penalty kick.


WSU: The NCAA Football 25 video game will be out this summer. A rebirth of a Madden-like game for colleges, after an 11-year drought without a collegiate alternative fueled by greed and bureaucracy. That’s a big deal to those who will be included in the game, as Greg Woods’ documents in this fun story from Pullman. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, yesterday we linked Jon Wilner’s thoughts on the transfer portal winners and losers. Today they are available on the S-R’s website. … Wilner has a conversation today on the Mercury News site. It is with Mountain West commissioner Gloria Nevarez. … John Canzano has wide-ranging thoughts on his website. … Washington and Oregon are rivals, sure, but the guys who cover them are colleagues. Colleagues who share their thoughts online as well. … The Huskies picked up a Michigan linebacker. … Oregon’s staff must like satellite camps. … How Oregon State filled out its new staff is coming under some scrutiny. … A new day, a new Colorado player. … An old Utah tight end is actually a new one, in the health sense. … On the basketball court, the Colorado men are counting on a returning player. … Tommy Lloyd has caught up after a slow start on Arizona’s roster rebuild.

Gonzaga: One of the Zags’ main targets in the last high school recruiting cycle, Trent Perry, reopened his recruitment after the USC coaching change, considered the Zags again and then signed yesterday with UCLA. … Elsewhere in the WCC, a Santa Clara pitcher is dealing with a family tragedy as he navigates the season.

EWU: The transfer portal was main subject Wednesday. How local schools were faring with the roster subtractions and additions. We opined new Eastern basketball coach Dan Monson seemed to be still getting settled in. Well, he’s settled. And the Eagles have four new players, something Dan Thompson covers in this story. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, former Montana women’s coach Shannon Schweyen and the school agreed to a settlement of her lawsuit. … A new Montana State player will be continuing a family tradition.

Preps: Of all the spring sports, golf finishes its postseason the earliest. Jim Meehan was out covering the GSL’s title matches yesterday. … District playoffs continued as well, with Dave Nichols putting together this roundup.

Indians: Before we get to Wednesday’s results, we have to pass along Dave’s story on do-it-all-at-100-miles-per-hour prospect Cole Carrigg. … Jesus Ordonez hasn’t played often this season but the backup catcher delivered a big blow last night in Oregon, with his two-run, 10th-inning home run lifting Spokane to the 4-2 victory. Dave has that story as well. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, as we mentioned above Eugene lost at home to Tri-City 6-1. … Vancouver rallied past visiting Everett 5-4 with two runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Chiefs: One more story for you from Dave. The 2024 WHL U.S. Priority Draft was held Wednesday. Spokane selected defenseman Brady Elbert in the first round (the seventh overall pick) and forward Spencer Anderson in the second (29th).

Mariners: George Kirby doesn’t walk folks. Which is a blessing and, when his location is just a little off, a curse. The Twins were in attack mode against the right-hander last night and drove three misguided pitches out of the park early. The solo shots gave Minnesota a lead it never relinquished in a 6-3 loss. … Seattle made a couple roster moves yesterday. … The M’s sure do strike out a lot. The guys Jerry Dipoto blamed it on, and didn’t keep, are sure hitting a lot of dingers too. … We know this pain. All too well. Well, except we never had our arm broken.

Seahawks: Seattle waived its third-string quarterback and will be in the market for a new one in the summer.

Reign: Seattle and Kansas City played to a scoreless draw.

Kraken: If the NBA ever relents and allows Seattle a reborn Sonics franchise, there is an umbrella organization waiting to take control. … As the Kraken look for a new coach, they found out their draft status.


• Yep, we’re heading out. As we mentioned before, part of our trip includes celebrating the 90th birthday of Kim’s mom. Pretty cool. You know what isn’t cool? We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, so we’re going to skip the writing. Sorry. You are on your own to figure out what to watch on TV over the weekend. Until later …