'Strange play' preserves doubleheader split for Lady Hawks
The Cheney Lady Hawks softball team went 2-1 last week, downing Pullman 14-5 and earning a split at West Valley, thanks to what head coach Gary Blake termed a “really strange play” in game two.
Leading 11-6 in the top of the sixth, the Lady Hawks had the bases loaded with one out when Cheyenne Wright hit a soft, just-above-the-head-height pop up that landed halfway between the pitching circle and home plate. West Valley’s pitcher ran forward to field the ball and threw home for a supposed force out on Cheney’s Julia Boyd coming in from third.
That’s when things got strange as the home plate umpire invoked the infield fly rule, which led to an automatic out for Wright and no force at home. So when West Valley catcher Katelyn Sage threw the ball back to the mound, Boyd sprinted home for what ended up being the winning run in the Lady Hawks’ 12-11 win.
West Valley made things interesting, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth and two in their final at bat to pull within one before Cheney recorded the final out at first with the Eagles tying run standing at third.
“At the time, it wasn’t obvious how essential that call was,” Blake said, adding it was also an incorrect call West Valley head coach Paul Cooley argued after it took place, but didn’t press the point.
Blake said an infield fly is determined to be a ball popped up in the infield that is easily playable — which Wright’s hit was not.
The win gave Cheney a split of a doubleheader in which they hit the ball well, but struggled on the mound and in the field, especially the latter with six official errors on the afternoon.
But it was the Blackhawks bats that saved the day. Cheney had RBI singles from Wright and Rachel Barsness, and a 2RBI single from Amy Anderson to take a 5-0 lead in the second inning.
Shay Turner made it 6-0 by launching an 0-2 pitch for a home run in the third in what Blake termed a “cardinal sin” by the West Valley pitcher.
“You do not give up a good pitch on an 0-2 count,” Blake said.
West Valley cut Cheney’s lead to two with four runs in the third, but the Lady Hawks regained a solid margin with a five-run fourth on a 2RBI double from Boyd, an RBI double from Cheyenne Hanson and 2RBI single from Adrianna Suiter. After that, it was hang-on time coupled with a little weirdness.
Towey (2-2) got the win on the mound, relieved by Boyd in the sixth.
In the first game the Lady Hawks had scoring opportunities but couldn’t capitalize in the 13-4 loss. Cheney tied the score at 2 in the top of the second on a 2RBI double by Towey, only to have the Eagles use two walks, three singles and a double for five runs in the fourth for a 7-2 lead.
Cheney cut the lead to 7-4 on RBI singles by Towey and Anderson in the sixth. But in the bottom of the frame the Lady Hawks glove woes jumped up and bit them, as in three errors plus six hits equaling six runs to complete the Eagles’ win.
Boyd (5-3) took the loss on the mound.
Wednesday the junior had a much better time in the circle, throwing 69 percent strikes and needing just 87 pitches to lead Cheney to a 14-5 win over visiting Pullman. Cheney rallied to take a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the second on Towey’s 2RBI double, and after the Greyhounds tied it in the fifth, scored nine runs in the final two innings, led by Suiter’s two-run HR, for the win.
Cheney sits at 7-4 overall, 6-4 in the Great Northern League, half a game back of East Valley and 3.5 behind Colville. The Lady Hawks stay home this week, facing last place Clarkston (1-8, 2-8) Wednesday and fourth-place Deer Park (3-4, 3-5) in a doubleheader Friday.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.