The Cheney softball team hit well and fielded well, but struggled on the mound in a home loss last Tuesday to East Valley. The Knights capitalized on walks and 15 hits to down the Lady Hawks 13-3, moving over Cheney into fourth place in the Great Northern League.
After falling behind in the top of the first, Cheney wasted little time in knotting the score at 2 in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Hawks loaded the bases on three straight hits by Cheyenne Wright, Amy Anderson and Katie Bethel, scoring on Adriana Suiter’s bases-loaded walk and Shay Turner’s sacrifice fly.
But the Knights answered with two runs in the second and five in the third for a 9-2 lead off starter Megan McDowell. Cheney got one back in the fifth on a one-out double by Suiter and another double from Turner, but got no closer as the Knights scored four runs off reliever Julia Boyd in the seventh.
McDowell took the loss (3-5), giving up nine runs on eight hits and five walks over two and a third innings. Boyd gave up seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, four coming in the seventh.
Cheney was 12 for 32 at the plate for a .375 average, with Wright going 4 for 4 and Whitney LaValley, Suiter and Turner each 2 for 3. Cheney had just one error for a .962 fielding percentage.
Cheney is still hitting a respectable .318 for the season. Anderson leads the team with a .426 average, Turner is second at .413 with four others hitting in the .300s.
The team has a .919 fielding percentage, not far from the .925 head coach Gary Blake would like to see. The struggle has been at third base where four players have tried to fill in, Blake said. On the other hand the preseason question mark about the young outfield’s ability seems to have been settled.
“They’ve been playing well for quite awhile,” Blake said.
The Lady Hawks are still trying to get consistency is on the mound, which has a group ERA of 12.0, but there have been good signs there as well.
The Lady Hawks, now in fifth place at 6-9, 7-9 overall, faced league champion Colville (17-0, 18-1) Tuesday, travel to Idaho’s Rathdrum on Thursday and wrap up the regular season Saturday in a doubleheader with Pullman (1-15).
Cheney can still move up to fourth, and an opening round home game, if it can at least sweep Pullman while East Valley drops its final three games, one with third-place West Valley and a doubleheader with second-place Deer Park.
“It looks like we’re going to be playing East Valley in the opener,” Blake said. “It’s just a matter of who’s going to be the home team and who’s going to be the visitor.”
As for going further than districts, Blake said he reminded his girls that in 2010 Cheney finished sixth, then upset the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds on their way to a first state playoff appearance.
“There’s no reason this group doesn’t have the potential to do the same thing,” he added.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.