Lady Hawks rally falls short in playoff loss at East Valley
The Cheney High School softball team’s late game rally fell just short of overcoming an 8-0 East Valley lead as the Lady Hawks ended their season with an 8-7 third-round road playoff loss to the Knights last Tuesday.
Cheney got on the board in the fourth inning, capitalizing on an East Valley error that allowed Adrianna Suiter to score from third on Shay Turner’s grounder. Cheney added two more in the frame on Cheyenne Hanson’s triple to left field — that appeared to be just a single before it took a huge hop over the Knights’ left fielder’s head — and an RBI single by Hailey Walker.
“I’m not sure what it hit, but it took quite a hop,” Lady Hawks’ head coach Gary Blake said of Hanson’s triple.
Cheney added one more run in the sixth with another Walker RBI single, scoring Amy Anderson, courtesy running for Turner, who led off with a double. In the seventh, Suiter smacked a one-out single and Julie Boyd then doubled to put runners at second and third for Turner, who drove them home with a 2RBI single. After Hanson popped out to first, Walker and Cassie Schlep both singled to load the bases.
Bailey Towey drew a walk, scoring Anderson, running for Turner, from third and pulling Cheney within one run with two outs and bases still loaded. But the next batter, Wright popped to short and Abbie Waldron, running from second for Schlep, inadvertently made contact with her and was called out on an interference call, ending the game.
Blake didn’t dispute the interference call, but added it was an easy, routine pop up to the shortstop who likely would have made the out anyway.
The Lady Hawks got off to a rocky start with a pair of errors in the first and second innings leading to five unearned East Valley runs, including Jackie Lucas’s three-run home run and Rachel Wilson’s 2RBI single in the first inning.
“You know you’re going to have them,” Blake said of the miscues. “Nobody expects flawless ball in high school.”
Towey took the loss on the mound as she and Boyd rotated pitching duties, with Boyd pitching the first, third and fourth innings and Towey the second and fifth and sixth.
Cheney finishes the season at 12-11 overall, 9-9 in GNL play, earning the No. 4 playoff seed. The Lady Hawks started off playing well in all aspects of the game – pitching, hitting and defense – but then struggled off and on in the field and on the mound down the stretch.
What stayed consistent was their hitting. Blake said their .379 team average for the season might be the highest in his 11 years at Cheney, with Anderson going .513 to lead the club before an injury reduced her role to courtesy running at season’s end.
The Lady Hawks will lose a good group of seniors in Anderson, Towey, Turner and Whitney LaValley but will also return a solid core of five juniors, a sophomore and a freshman that got a lot of playing time. Blake said he also sees a pretty good group of current eighth-graders entering the program in 2015.
“They might not all make varsity next year, but they will definitely contribute before they top out,” he said.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.