Lady Hawks all but assured of No. 4 seed to district softball
The Cheney High softball team split its pair of games last week, losing 6-4 at East Valley in Great Northern League action Tuesday and rallying for an 8-7 win in non-league play over Idaho’s Lakeland Thursday.
If head coach Gary Blake had his way, he’d swap those results. A win would have pulled the Lady Hawks to within two games of the second-place Knights with three games remaining on the schedule, and would have given Cheney the season series and edge in any tiebreaker.
For six innings Cheney kept East Valley within reach, cutting a 3-0 lead to two on Rachel Barsness’ RBI single scoring Abbie Waldon in the sixth. East Valley got that run back and more in the bottom of the frame, capitalizing on three Cheney errors for three unearned runs.
But the Lady Hawks weren’t done. In the seventh, Shay Turner and Waldon singled, with Turner scoring on a two-out single by Bailey Towey and a fielding error at first. Cheyenne Wright then singled to score Waldon and Towey, but that was all Cheney could muster.
“We just couldn’t quite dig out of a hole we made for ourselves,” Blake said.
Adrianna Suiter led the Cheney offense with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate. Boyd took the loss on the mound, with Towey coming on with one out in the sixth. Blake said both threw well, with Boyd at 64 percent strikes and Towey at just under 69 percent.
Thursday Cheney jumped on the visiting Hawks for four runs in the first on RBI singles by Suiter, Boyd and Whitney LaValley along with a Lakeland fielding error. Lakeland cut the lead to two in the third, but the Lady Hawks responded with Wright’s RBI single and an RBI fielder’s choice by Barsness in the bottom of the inning to go back up 6-2.
But in the sixth Lakeland took the lead, capitalizing on three doubles, a single, a walk, fielder’s choice and Cheney error to score five times. Barsness tripled to left centerfield with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and eventually tied it on a wild pitch, and in the seventh, Wright’s bases-loaded RBI single scoring LaValley won it.
Towey got the win on the mound. The senior along with Boyd, LaValley and Wright all had a multiple hit day at the plate.
Cheney sits at 8-7 in GNL play, 10-7 overall with three games remaining: Tuesday at home against league-leader Colville (16-1, 17-2) and a doubleheader Saturday at sixth-place Pullman (2-12, 2-13). The Lady Hawks are virtually assured of a home game in next Tuesday’s loser-out opening round, likely against fifth-place West Valley.
Blake thinks Colville is “pretty locked in” for the No. 1 seed and should be the favorite to win the district title. East Valley has a good shot at the No. 2 seed, needing to win two of its last three games that include a season-finale doubleheader at third-place Deer Park.
But when it comes to the playoffs, Blake sees a pretty even playing field in the competition for the GNL’s second slot to the state tournament.
“From two down through five, it’s pretty balanced,” he said. “All of those (season) series have been split.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.