By JOHN McCALLUM
Rainouts and absences have led to a light week for the Summer Hawks AA American Legion baseball team. Light as in no games at all. None. Nada. Zilch.
Cheney last took the field June 19, sweeping visiting Lewis and Clark, before rain forced cancellations of games in Trail, B.C. against West Kootenay June 24. A mixed doubleheader Tuesday June 26 against Medical Lake and Chewelah, one game against each, was moved along with a doubleheader last Saturday at Medical Lake.
“It's kind of a blessing and a curse,” Summer Hawks manager Kadeem Smalls said. “(It) gives us a chance to re-focus and work on a few things, but you can't go two weeks without playing.”
Cheney, 7-5 overall, won't have to wait long to get back on the competitive diamond however. When they do, the Spokane American Legion's AA American League Division's third-place team will be plenty busy.
The Summer Hawks are competing July 4-6 in the annual Wood Bat Classic, with Cheney hosting a pod of five teams. The Summer Hawks opened Wednesday against the Helena Representatives, who are 26-9 overall in Montana American Legion and tournament play, and were to face fellow Spokane American Legion club Deer Park, 4-4 overall in the Federal League Division, in the nightcap.
Thursday, July 5, Cheney faces the Spokane Dodgers U-18 team, and wraps up the round robin schedule against Mountain View Toros from Meridian, Idaho in the nightcap. Each team from the Cheney pod will play one game July 6 against another team from the Medical Lake pod, with semifinals and finals at Avista Stadium July 7.
Smalls said he doesn't know a lot about the Wood Bat competition, adding that he's had experience with Helena's program having played a tournament there two years ago as a Summer Hawks player.
“They're pretty good, good coach, good program,” he added. “(We're) staying away from over analyzing and just looking to play our game.”
If the Summer Hawks should advance to semifinal or finals action in the Wood Bat it will mean the team is in the middle of a nine-day stretch of baseball. One game of the West Kootenay doubleheader has been rescheduled for July 8 at the Cheney High School field, a.k.a. the Ballpark In Cheney (BIC), with the mixed doubleheader between Medical Lake and Chewelah also there July 9.
Cheney hosts Rogers and Ferris in single games July 10 and 11, travels to North Central for one game July 12 and finishes the regular season Friday July 13 at home against Mead. A doubleheader with Medical Lake is uncertain and may only be rescheduled if needed.
The lay off may lead to a rusty Cheney team taking the field in the Wood Bat, but it will also be a Summer Hawks team that is back to full strength, Smalls said, having gotten through a period of vacation absences and minor injuries.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.