Cheney softball head coach Gary Blake believes that if his team started games stronger, they might not have to play so furiously later on.
The Lady Hawks gave up 19 runs in going 1-2 last week, 14 of which came in the first two innings against Deer Park at home Tuesday and in a doubleheader Saturday at East Valley. Cheney tried to rally but couldn’t in the first two of those three games, losing 4-2 to the Stags and 8-2 to East Valley in game one. In game two, after falling behind 6-0 after two the Lady Hawks got three in the fourth and four in the fifth to tie the Knights, tacking on a run in each of the final two innings for the 9-7 win.
Shay Turner helped get the Lady Hawks rally going in game two with an RBI single in the fourth, followed eventually by Whitney LaValley’s 2 RBI single, two of Cheney’s five hits. In the fifth they produced four more runs on four hits, Katie Bethel’s 2 RBI double and Megan McDowell’s 2-run home run.
In the sixth Amy Anderson walked, Bethel singled and both advanced on a wild pitch before Turner singled to bring Anderson home with the eventual game winner. Cheney added on more in the seventh for insurance.
McDowell got the win, giving up seven runs on five hits, striking out three, walking eight and hitting two batters over seven innings.
The Lady Hawks were their own worst enemy in game one. After falling behind 1-0 in the first, a one-out error in the second opened the door for four East Valley runs, three on a double.
Cheney’s two runs came in the sixth, with Cheyenne Hanson hitting a triple and then scoring on a bad relay throw. Bailey Towey reached and scored on a wild pitch.
Julia Boyd took the loss, giving up eight runs, four unearned, on 10 hits while walking three and striking out three in seven, throwing 68 percent strikes.
Tuesday McDowell struggled in the first, giving up three runs on two hits, three walks and a hit batter. Cheney answered with two runs and three hits in the bottom half, Towey scoring on an error in left field and Bethel on Cheyenne Wright’s RBI single, forcing Deer Park to make a pitching change.
“That’s when they brought in Sweeney and it was lights out the rest of the way,” Blake said.
Sweeney as in Kylie Sweeney, someone Blake knows through club ball. The freshman limited Cheney to one hit the final six innings, walking one and striking out 12.
McDowell took the loss, give up just five hits but six walks and the hit batter.
So far Blake is still happy with his team at 4-3 overall, 3-3 in Great Northern League play. The defense has been averaging an error or two a game, not bad for high school Blake said, while the pitching is trying to find its rhythm.
As a team the Lady Hawks are hitting a solid .349, with Anderson leading with a .444 average while Turner is somewhat of a surprise at .435 after hitting all of .061 in 2012. Last week, Anderson was 5 for 10 while Hanson was 3 for 6, Bethel 5 for 11 (.454), Towey 5 for 12 (.417) and Wright 2 for 5 (.400).
Cheney’s offense will get a test Saturday as perennial powerhouse Colville (4-0, 5-1) comes to town tied for the league lead with Deer Park.
“We’ll have to crank up the pitching machine at the end of this week because they’ve got a pitcher who throws in the 60s,” Blake said.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.