April 18, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 52

Finally – Lady Hawks find West Valley's number

The last time Cheney beat Great Northern League rival West Valley in softball it was to earn a trip to the 2A state tournament.

That was May 2010. Since then the Lady Hawks have dropped 11 straight to the Eagles. That includes five losses last year, one each in the District 7 and regional tournaments, and twice this season.

But, Cheney softball fans can now move that streak into the “over with” column. The Lady Hawks played one of their best games of the 2013 season in a 6-2 win over the visiting second-place Eagles (6-3, 7-4) in chilly, windy conditions last Saturday, salvaging a doubleheader split.

Cheney got all it would need in the second inning, opening a 3-0 lead with an RBI single by Bailey Towey and 2 RBI single by Cheyenne Wright. The Lady Hawks answered West Valley’s run in the fifth with one of their own in the bottom of the frame, and after the Eagles scored in the top of the sixth making it 4-2, added insurance in the home half on RBI singles by Adriana Suiter and Shay Turner.

“And I was very happy to have the insurance,” Lady Hawks’ head coach Gary Blake said.

That was because things got interesting in the Eagles last at bat. West Valley loaded the bases with nobody out and the heart of their power-hitting lineup just a couple batters away. But Towey snagged a hard-hit line drive to center and doubled up the runner on second, with the next batter popping up to Cheyenne Hanson at short to end the game.

“That was cause for celebration,” Blake said.

It was the end of what Blake called a “good week,” starting with a 13-3 win at winless Pullman (0-10). The Lady Hawks hit well, seven singles and two doubles, but benefited from the Greyhounds mound struggles – 12 walks and five hit batters. In the fourth, Cheney broke open a 2-2 game with five runs on two hits, neither leading to RBIs.

Julia Boyd got the win on the mound, allowing two runs – both on back-to-back triples and a wild pitch in the first – on five hits, striking out four and walking two.

In the first West Valley game the Eagles pretty much tore the cover off the ball against pitchers Megan McDowell and Towey, batting over .500 for the game. Each gave up eight hits including five doubles, two triples and three home runs – all going over the fence. McDowell took the loss to go to 2-3.

Cheney hit the ball well too, Blake said, going 7 for 22, a .318 average. The Lady Hawks took a brief 3-2 lead on Suiter’s 3-run home run in the bottom of the first that also cleared the fence in right-centerfield, but didn’t score again until the fifth.

But the Lady Hawks made up for the loss with their win in the nightcap, putting a smile on Blake’s face and ending a good week that left Cheney at 5-6 in GNL play, 6-6 overall and in a spot to make a late season run and potentially move up the standings from fifth.

Blake was particularly impressed with Boyd, who got both wins last week to run her record to 3-1. The sophomore had a 1.62 ERA in 13 innings, averaging 6.5 hits and 3.25 walks.

“It all added up to a couple real nice performances by her,” Blake said. “She pitched well and they (Cheney defense) backed her up.”

The Lady Hawks also hit well, averaging .378 over the three games, led by Amy Anderson at .571 with Towey and Turner at .556 each.

Cheney has seven games remaining in the regular season, including Tuesday’s home game with fourth-place Clarkston (4-4) and a doubleheader Saturday at third-place Deer Park (5-3, 6-3).

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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